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County Dems to help with key Senate races
Fundraiser Aug. 14 to benefit candidates in three contests outside Wyoming.
By Thomas Dewell, Jackson Hole, Wyo.
Date: July 25, 2012
Teton County Democrats have turned their fundraising prowess to preserving their party’s majority in the U.S. Senate.
To meet that aim, organizers will help three candidates raise money Aug. 14 for races that will be decided this fall. The event, called Jackson Hole Save Our Senate will involve a cocktail party at the South Park ranch home of Mike Wardell and Paula Grosch and a dinner at the Indian Springs clubhouse.
The fundraisers will benefit the campaigns of sitting Montana Sen. Jon Tester, Rep. Martin Heinrich, of New Mexico, and former Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine.
Valley Democrats are working on out-of-state races because the state’s congressional delegation remains firmly controlled by Republicans, Democratic state Central Committeewoman Marcia Kunstel said.
“We think Democrats who care about this, who care about what happens in our Senate, that their viewpoints are not being represented by our own delegation,” Kunstel said. County and Wyoming Democrats “would like to have an opportunity to make their dollars count and make a difference on these really close races. We think this is the best way to do it.”
Tester is running for re-election against Montana’s lone representative in the U.S. House, Republican Dennis Rehberg. In June, a Rasmussen Poll said the race was too close to call.
“This is a really important race especially for those of us who care about environmental issues,” Kunstel said. “Tester has been on the right side of most issues, and this is going to be a critical race. [Opponent] Denny Rehburg is not a friend of the environment.”
Heinrich faces former U.S. Rep. Heather Wilson for the Senate seat being vacated by Democratic Sen. Jeff Bingaman. The environment remains an important issue in the race that has drawn national attention.
“Heinrich is really good on the environment,” Kunstel said. “He helped to do wolf reintroduction in New Mexico.”
Plus, he knows the issues familiar to residents of the Rockies.
“We wanted to have some folks who understand Western issues and would represent our points of view better than some of our own elected officials in Wyoming,” Kunstel said.
Kaine is running against Republican George Allen. Allen has represented Virginia in the House and Senate and, like Kaine, served as governor of the commonwealth.
Kaine served as chairman of the Democratic National Committee from 2009 to 2011. He has visited Jackson for party events before.
“People know him, and people like him,” Kunstel said.
The fundraiser comes after Mitt Romney, the presumptive GOP presidential nominee, came to Jackson and raised a reported $4 million for his campaign. That event was hosted by former Vice President Dick Cheney.
T.R. Pierce, the chairman of the Teton County Republican Party, said the Jackson Hole Save Our Senate event parallels similar GOP fundraisers.
“They have a sense of need for certain candidates, and they want to support their party on a national level just like we do,” Pierce said Tuesday. “I don’t see anything wrong with that.”
In the past, Teton County Democrats hosted fundraisers for presidential candidates, congressmen and senators. Holding the Senate was the target for this year.
“We decided to work on these really close races and try to make a difference that way,” Kunstel said.
The cocktail party at the Wardell and Grosch place starts at 5:30 p.m. Aug. 14. Contributions range from $100 for “guests” to $1,000 for sponsors.
The dinner portion of the evening requires a minimum donation of $2,500. It starts at 7 p.m.
Those interested should send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 733-2016. To contribute online go to https://secure.actblue.com/entity/fundraiser/31162