The Democratic candidate for the US House of Representatives supports the Republican platform in the debate

CHENEY – Although three Democratic primary contenders took the stage in Riverton for debate Thursday night, only two appeared to endorse the party’s platform.

Lynette Graypool, Steve Hilling and Megan Jensen vie to become the first Democratic Representative in Congress from Wyoming in nearly four decades, since former U.S. Representative Dick Cheney beat Tino Roncalio in 1978. Liz Cheney’s daughter, Liz, has held a seat Wyoming is the only one in the US House of Representatives for the past three two-year terms, facing four Republican challengers in her party’s primary.

The winner of the August 16 Republican primary will face one of three candidates who made their case at Central Wyoming College to become the sixth Democrat to be elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from an equal state.

Candidates running for Democrats in Wyoming often stick to the state’s party platform on a slew of issues, such as support for women’s reproductive rights, economic diversification, statewide tax reforms to increase state revenue, and tackling climate change through investment in clean energy.

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Gray Paul and Jensen demonstrated their devotion to these ideals throughout the debate, making additional calls for action to oppose white nationalism and an investigation into the January 6, 2021 riots at the nation’s Capitol.

Instead, he argued several points made by the Republican Party in Wyoming.

He criticized Cheney and her role on the Jan. 6 congressional committee, claimed the election was stolen, took a pro-life stance, and said the state needed to continue investing in the mineral industry.

I was not happy about this country. But more than my unhappiness, I was crazy. I was angry with the January 6 commission, which goes on and on and on, and whose sole purpose is to try to destroy one man, President Donald Trump,” he said when speaking about why he decided to run. “Who got us energy independence, border controls, low inflation, and moving the Israeli embassy? to Jerusalem and did what he said he would do.”

Hilling has deviated from his Democratic opponents on almost every issue, including the challenges the country faces with regard to the economy. He said he thinks it’s a mistake to suddenly turn away from fossil fuels, and may not address climate change.

Gray Bull and Jensen have argued that the state needs to take steps to move away from oil and gas and work to diversify the number of industries rooted in Wyoming. They also emphasized the renewable energy opportunity in the state, but said there was a need to support employees who would need jobs in the market after that.

“Wyoming is in an ideal position to continue that leadership with renewable energies. If you look at the stats, in the past three years, it has been declining rapidly,” Gray Bull said. “I have a family that works in the oil field. I have a family that works in the coal industry. I spoke to Families in Gillette who lost their homes, lost their mortgages, lost their way of life.”

Housing was another issue in and of itself, and the two women on the initial ballot said a solution had to be found.

Jensen said the affordable housing crisis is a dangerous situation, given the severe weather in Wyoming, and if elected, she would bring many different parties to the table to start work immediately.

Gray Bull discussed how it negatively impacted the northern Arapahoe Tribe, and how she helped implement the statewide Emergency Rental Assistance Program. It wants continuous cooperation to find housing for residents.

Helling said he believes affordable housing issues prevail across the country, and said there is no easy answer.

However, he said it’s a complicated issue because many homeless people struggle with drug addiction or mental illness, and he doesn’t want to incentivize not working by pushing more unemployment.

“We definitely have a homeless population problem, and that’s in every big city I know,” he said. “Some people just don’t want to work. They don’t want a house. Some people are happy to live on the street.”

Jensen retracted his response and said that there are often situations where families do not have the resources, such as childcare, a place to live or food to eat. This makes it difficult to keep a job.

“I think people basically want to work. They want the best for themselves and their family.”

In light of the repeal of Roe v. Wade, which leaves abortion legislation to the states, the candidates were asked if they would support legislation protecting abortion under federal law.

Both Gray Bull and Jensen said they support Congress’ passage of such a bill, a strong position for the Wyoming Democratic Party. Both women spoke not only about the medical risks women would be left with if they could not have an abortion and the importance of choosing if a woman was impregnated because of sexual abuse or incest.

Gray Bull, as an Aboriginal woman, said it was a sensitive topic, and no one should be told what to do with her body.

Although Helling said he greatly respects women, and “admirers of brave women” – he would not vote to legalize the right to abortion.

I hate abortion. I have always been pro-life, and will continue to be pro-life,” he said. “Killing unborn children is not the answer to anything.”

He also said that he did not believe in systemic discrimination or critical race theory, immediately following Gray Bull’s description of the unknowingly sterilization of Aboriginal women in hospitals and her arguments for representing them in the entire political debate.

When asked if white nationalism is a threat to democracy, Helling said there are a few radical maniacs to stop.

This came in contrast to Jensen, who said the nation needed to focus on domestic terrorism and the dangers of white nationalism as it was tearing societies apart.

“We see how white supremacy gets in the way of our politics, it gets in the way of our leadership,” Gray Bull added. “We’re seeing an increase in gun violence by white supremacists. We’re seeing targeting of people of color. It’s definitely a problem, and it’s a problem we can solve.”

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