Trauner says decision will come today
By Noah Brenner
November 9, 2006
Democratic challenger and Wilson resident Gary Trauner today will either ask for a ballot recount or concede the election for Wyoming's U.S. House seat.
Trauner said Wednesday he had not decided yet if he would ask for a statewide recount after losing to Republican incumbent Barbara Cubin by 970 votes, or less than 1 percentage point, according to unofficial tallies. He will announce his decision during a news conference at 1 p.m. today.
“I feel that I owe it to the people of Wyoming to make sure that every vote has been counted accurately,” he said in a prepared statement. “I want to take a day, get a little sleep and check on the reports of problems in Carbon County and provisional ballot questions before moving forward.”
By state law, if the margin between the two candidates had been less than 1 percent of Cubin’s vote total, in this case 932 votes, there would have been an automatic recount. Trauner may still request a recount if he believes that “fraud or error” occurred during the election process. In this case, Trauner would likely make his grounds for such a claim on computer problems in Carbon County that forced election officials there to count ballots by hand. Any recount would include all ballots statewide, not just those in Carbon County.
Whatever Trauner chooses to do, he will have the support of the state party, said Wyoming Democratic Party Chairman Mike Gierau.
“We stand by Gary in whatever decision he makes and his team makes,” Gierau said at a Wednesday news conference. “They've got people on the ground in a lot of these counties. I can't get more specific than that.”
Gierau also praised Trauner for running a clean, competitive campaign.
“He ran the best campaign,” Gierau said. “He campaigned on issues. He ran on people’s hopes, not their fears like Barbara Cubin did.”
“We sent Barbara Cubin to Washington 12 years ago to clean up the cesspool and now she thinks it’s a hot tub,” Gierau said.
Trauner may be justified in asking for a recount, but it may not make a difference in the outcome of the election, said Thomas Seitz, adjunct professor of political science at the University of Wyoming. Seitz said the margin between the candidates was slim but not as close as it would be in other states with higher numbers of registered voters.
“In Wyoming that margin isn’t as significant as it would be in other states,” he said.
Overall, Seitz said he was surprised the race was so close between the two candidates. He attributed Trauner's success to Cubin mistakes and a national backlash against the Republican Party.
“I am curious as to the impact of the incident after the debate when she had words with the Libertarian candidate,” he said. “That might have given some people in the state more insight into her personality. But it is also a possibility that it's a reflection on a broader referendum on the Republican-dominated Congress rather than Cubin herself.”
Regardless of how close the race is, Cubin’s campaign is confident any recount will uphold her position as the winner of the election.
“What we saw tonight will be born out in the recount,” said Joe Milczewski early Wednesday morning after Cubin declared herself the winner.