Taylor Haynes and Troy Mader are Wyoming’s version of modern-day vampires — two far-right politicians who refuse to go quietly into the night, even though voters have forcefully pounded stakes in their hearts.
It’s as if they’re begging to be kicked when they’re down. Haynes, a Cheyenne rancher and retired urologist, finished second to Gov. Matt Mead in August’s three-way gubernatorial primary, capturing only 32 percent of the vote. While all three candidates signed a unity pledge at the state GOP convention to rally behind whoever won the primary, Haynes and third-place finisher Cindy Hill both reneged on their promises, leaving Mead and party leaders to wonder, WTF?
Meanwhile, Rep. Troy Mader (R-Gillette), who fortunately will soon lose that “Rep.” designation in front of his name because he was creamed in his primary election, is back to it again. No, he’s not following Haynes’ lead and running as an independent in House District 52. But the Wyoming House’s biggest opponent of marriage equality still has a lot of things he wants to spew about the issue, and he chose this past Tuesday — the day Wyoming issued its first marriage license to a same-sex couple — to rant about the injustice of it all.
Haynes announced his write-in candidacy Tuesday, saying he was reluctant to break the unity pledge but felt compelled by the serious issues facing the state that only he is qualified to handle.
That issue, he told Wyoming-Tribune Eagle reporter Trevor Brown, is Ebola.
Yes, Ebola. You may not have heard much about the disease thus far in the gubernatorial race between Mead and his Democratic opponent, Pete Gosar. There is not a single case of Ebola diagnosed or treated in Wyoming.
But if there is, Haynes is convinced he’s the man for the job.
“I’m not thinking about politics. I’m a pure statesman,” Haynes modestly told the Cheyenne newspaper. “The unity pledge was about politics, and that was fine and all until the Ebola threat arose.”
Apparently, the retired doctor was comfortable staying on his ranch outside Cheyenne until a Liberian man died from the disease in Texas after returning from West Africa. He isn’t happy with Wyoming’s “lackluster” response to the disease, even though it doesn’t exist here and officials have already made all the preparations necessary to handle patients if Ebola ever does strike the state.
“Ebola is probably the 600-pound gorilla in the room,” Haynes told Brown. So far he’s the only candidate courageous enough to talk about this health crisis. Let’s give him credit for that.
“People keep insisting that they will write my name down [on the ballot],” Haynes said. “And what I’m hearing is that [the other candidates] have not demonstrated the depth of knowledge in the Constitution and in many other areas.”
Who are these people who keep telling the good doctor to run, and can we slap them?
In case you have a short memory, the candidate’s knowledge of the Constitution includes that the state’s governor has the right to pick and choose which federal laws to obey or ignore. During the primary election he vowed he would jail federal employees who dared to carry out their duties if he disagreed with their agency’s right to be in Wyoming.
Haynes’ futile vow to fight on despite the primary results has understandably irked state Republican officials. Wyoming GOP Chairwoman Tammy Hooper said the party is “deeply disappointed” Haynes chose not to endorse Mead, as he agreed to do.
Haynes ran as a write-in candidate for governor in 2010, when Mead won his first term. In that election, he garnered 13,769 votes, slightly more than 7 percent of the total. It’s doubtful that’s enough to throw the election to Pete Gosar, the Democrat.
Haynes said he doesn’t plan to do much other than put up campaign signs because his war chest is empty. “All I can do is offer my insights and my views, and we’ll see how that goes,” he told Brown.
No wonder he called himself a statesman. Isn’t that a statesman-like statement? But unlike a true statesman, consistent with his inability to concede the contest to Mead in August, he’s unlikely to concede anything on the upcoming election night, either, because write-in votes aren’t tallied by the state unless a candidate files to have them counted. But Haynes says he wants to know his “grand total”, so we’ll likely waste the state’s time and money counting those write-ins.
This past week, Troy Mader, who was appointed to fill Rep. Sue Wallis’ unexpired term when she died earlier this year, wrote a letter to the editor of every newspaper in the state. In it, he urged Gov. Matt Mead and Attorney General Peter Michael to appeal a federal court’s ruling in favor of marriage equality in Wyoming.
This is not surprising, since Mader wrote a 1987 screed about the evils of being gay called “The Death Sentence of AIDS.” Here’s one of its many inflammatory statements:
“Many homosexuals demand the right to kill themselves with the AIDS virus and to kill others by infecting them. Many homosexuals demand the right to have sexual acts with children of any age, including infants.”
While the state’s most homophobic legislator likely won’t ever win an election, he’s still going to use the cache of once being an official Wyoming lawmaker in an attempt to give credibility to his anti-gay crusade.
“Check out the nations, empires and civilizations found in the trash heap of history,” his letter continued. “You will always find the erosion of ‘traditional marriage’ and the acceptance of sexual immorality has ALWAYS been a common denominator in their self-destruction.” I think I’d put my money on climate change as a more likely future cause of the destruction of civilization, but I digress.
He added, “To think we can mock the very laws of nature and ‘Nature’s God’ as set forth in the Declaration of Independence and not reap serious consequences is clearly misguided.”
While Mader is dialing back the craziness a bit — his letter doesn’t include a single reference to bestiality unlike his book – he holds out hope that a higher court will overturn U.S. District Judge Scott Skavdahl’s decision because…well, doesn’t that happen all the time?
“If you folks can find error in a recent judge’s decision on the management of wolves in Wyoming and defy it by going to court, then by all means you can certainly find error in a ruling that defies all of nature’s laws and undermines the very fabric of our society,” the soon-to-be former state lawmaker told the governor.
Haynes and Mader — we definitely can’t live with them, but we can’t get rid of them, either.