Open Spaces
3:33 pm
Fri August 17, 2012

Republican Candidates Debate Conservative Values

During Tuesday’s Republican primary election a large number of so called conservative candidates in the state are hoping to make a dent in legislative races.  These are candidates who believe that some office holders have forgotten their Republican values.  Organizations known as WyWatch, Conservative Republicans of Wyoming or Crow and the Tea Party are supporting these candidates who they hope will make changes in how government is run and get more conservative legislation such as anti-abortion measures passed.  A race in Casper appears to be the headliner of this battle between conservative and moderate republicans.  Wyoming Public Radio’s Bob Beck reports…

BOB BECK:    It’s not a surprise that State Senator Charles Scott has a primary opponent.  Scott says he has had a primary or general election opponent every year since he was first elected in 1979.  But this is the first time he’s faced off against someone this experienced.  State Representative Bob Brechtel has served Casper and Natrona County for the last decade.  But Brechtel decided to run against Scott for the reason that he does not believe Scott supports the same core values that he does…

BOB BRECHTEL: As a statesman I just want to take a strong stand for what I consider to be our conservative republican values.  I think that’s really been my position all along and I will continue to fight for those values.  It’s really nothing against Charlie in that regard. 

What are those values?  Brechtel has either been involved with or sponsored legislation that has opposed gay marriage, abortion and even wanted to make it a crime for anyone in Wyoming to implement the Affordable Care Act…

BRECHTEL:  Depending on government for all of our decisions on health care I think can potentially long term be a dangerous thing.

BECK:  In contrast, Scott says government provides necessary health care with Medicare and Medicaid and he says if Brechtel opposes that…then his view is unreasonably extreme.  But Scott says making it unlawful to implement the A-C-A was also radical…

CHARLES SCOTT:  Anybody who thinks that that bill was an effective way to fight the Obama care reforms just doesn’t understand how our government works.  And is going to be ineffective in Cheyenne as a consequence.

BECK:  Scott is also pro-choice on the abortion issue and while he says he is very much for second amendment rights, he upset conservatives by opposing Wyoming’s law that allow people to carry concealed weapons without a permit.  He still believes asking people to have a permit is a good idea…

SCOTT:  It does provide us some protection, really not so much against the criminals, but against the crazy people.  And it gives the police an ability to ask when they think someone might be carrying a gun in shopping mall, or a theater or  any kind of event like that.  And that’s a significant protection for us.

BECK:  But Brechtel sees that as another intrusion on personal freedoms and he says he is running against Scott to bring another viewpoint into the state senate…

BRECHTEL:  A Wyoming for the future needs to remain both fiscally and morally strong, if we are going to stand against the…especially the overreaches against a federal government that seems to have almost gone wild.

BECK: There was a time when Brechtel’s viewpoint would have been out of the mainstream, but that is certainly not the case this year.  There seems to be heavy disagreements between those who see themselves as moderate Republicans versus those who are much more conservative.  Tammy Hooper is the chairman of the Wyoming Republican Party.  She sees the conservative movement as a positive change in the party.  Hooper also says the interest in conservative values is not surprising…

TAMMY HOOPER:  After three years of a Democratic President and also certain things, the economy, people are becoming more activist.  And so as you become more activist, you are drawn to certain things that perhaps you are more passionate about, a policy or a program that’s more near and dear to your heart.

BECK:  Hooper says a number of younger republicans have joined forces with some old members of the party to drive the movement. Brechtel says this conservative movement is coming from the people…

BRECHTEL:  What I have seen is a continual struggle towards what I would consider to be a more conservative constituency across the entire state.

BECK: But Scott says these candidates are not conservative, but radical…

SCOTT:  Who want to do away with some of the basic functions of our government and at the same time want the government policing people’s personal lives to a much greater degree.  That doesn’t strike me as very conservative.

BECK: Scott and Brechtel will find out what voters in Senate District 30 really want on Tuesday.  For Wyoming Public Radio, I’m Bob Beck.