One of the co-authors of the unconstitutional “Hill Bill” and Wyoming’s most well-known homophobic author were two of the four House incumbents whose re-election bids flamed out in Tuesday’s primary.
Four-term Republican legislator Rep. Matt Teeters, chairman of the House Education Committee, was one of the legislative leaders of the movement to strip most of Superintendent of Public Instruction Cindy Hill’s powers to head the Wyoming Department of Education. Urging passage of Senate File 104 in January 2013, Teeters tweeted, “This is an attempt to remove personal politics from the implementation of the law.”
Uh, Matt, we’re pretty sure Cindy and her supporters took it personally. If they hadn’t, you probably would have been in the winner’s circle Tuesday. The last time he had an opponent, in the 2008 general election, Teeters received nearly 70 percent of the votes.
Political newcomer Cheri Steinmetz topped Teeters, 1,270 to 867, in House District 5. Barring a write-in campaign, Steinmetz will be unopposed in the Nov. 4 general election.
In another high-profile race, Troy Mader lost the seat he was appointed to just prior to this year’s budget session by the Campbell County Commission. Mader replaced the late Rep. Sue Wallis, who still had a year in her term unexpired.
Mader was defeated by Campbell County Sheriff William Pownall, who was making his first bid for the Legislature after serving as sheriff for 12 years. It wasn’t close, with Pownall posting 855 votes to Mader’s 540 in HD 52.
Mader earned notoriety during his year in office when WyPols learned he wrote an anti-gay book in 1987, “The Death Sentence of AIDS: Vital Information You Need for Your Family’s Health and Safety.” Actually, “wrote” is an overstatement, as the screed featured quotes from AIDS “experts,” with Mader adding a few homophobic thoughts of his own at the end of each chapter.
During the budget session, WyPols published several chapters of Mader’s book, in which he advocated for the quarantine of all people with AIDS. Widely criticized for his views after being sworn in as a House member, Mader doubled down on the issue, defending himself in a commentary, “Of Gay Rights and Marriage,” that he distributed to news outlets throughout the state.
Mader believes gay marriage leads to polygamy and bestiality. In his column he wrote, “We’ve ‘progressed’ from considering homosexuality detrimental a generation or so ago to now considering it an alternative lifestyle. Will we soon ‘progress” further and call marriage any ‘love’ relationship between whatever — another man or woman or child or animal or perhaps a mix of all the above or in multiple quantities?”
So long, Troy — we hardly knew ye, and we’re pretty damn happy we didn’t get to know ye any better.
The other two incumbents who lost in their respective GOP primary contests were Rep. Dave Blevins, HD 25; and Rep. Kathy Coleman, HD 30. They were serving their first terms in the Legislature, and both lost by several hundred votes.
Both Blevins and Coleman voted for SF104 during the 2013 general session. Mader was not a member of the House when the Hill Bill was approved.
No current state senators seeking re-election failed to be nominated again, though a few of the contested races were closer than expected. Sen. Drew Perkins of Casper won the SD 29 GOP nomination by only 35 votes over challenger Bob Ide. Meanwhile, Sen. Ogden Driskill of Devils Tower defeated Judy McCullough by 54 votes.
Both Perkins and Driskill voted in favor of SF104 last year.
Two House incumbents who supported SF104 also won narrow primary victories. Rep. John Patton outpolled Ryan Muholland, 600-578, in HD 29, while in HD 58, Rep. Thomas Lockhart survived a strong challenge by Charles Gray, 552-504.
During the final Republican gubernatorial debate before the primary, candidate Cindy Hill — who wound up running a distant third in the race — predicted that many lawmakers who tried to take her down through SF104 would not be returning to the Legislature.
So if you’re scoring at home, that’s three wins in the House for Cindy Hill supporters, and four near-misses in other races — with the general election still to come.