GOP moves to rein in its rebels

 

Two years ago, Barbara Cubin, a first-time candidate for the House of Representatives, stocked sporting goods stores across Wyoming with pamphlets describing her opposition to the "Clinton-Babbitt War on the West." In Idaho, another first-time candidate, Helen Chenoweth, held a pretend endangered salmon bake to show her scorn for the Endangered Species Act. Now, as they begin their bids for re-election, these feisty first-termers are hearing a new message from their national party: Start looking green.

In mid-May, a memo went to each Republican candidate for the House from Rep. Bill Paxon of New York, coordinator of the GOP's election drive for Congress. It urged the injection of a green vision into their campaigns: "Hold a press conference and issue a press release on the importance of a cleaner, safer, healthier environment for future generations. Ask families and children to appear with you at your press conference. Remember, Republicans are saving the environment for them."

While Paxon's advice may be taken by Republican House candidates elsewhere in the country, neither Cubin nor Chenoweth would comment on whether the directive will re-focus their campaigns. But Met Johnson, founder of the Western States' Coalition, a "wise-use" organization of county, state and federal legislators that supports the two representatives, says the charge to overturn laws controlling public lands has not changed. "I do speak for the rural areas in the West," says Johnson. "And I've heard no one who's changed their mind."

Cubin and Chenoweth's Democratic opponents disagree. Pete Maxfield, one of two candidates vying for the chance to defeat Cubin, says people in Wyoming "didn't expect the extremism on public lands." Ted Sullivan, spokesman for Dan Williams, Chenoweth's challenger, says that although Idaho is a resource-based state, Idahoans are extremely concerned about Chenoweth's attempts to give public lands to the states. As proof of Chenoweth's weakness, he points to the May 28 Republican primary: Chenoweth's rival, William Levinger, got 32 percent of the vote, even though he spent part of his campaign in a mental hospital (HCN, 5/13/96).

But Democrats in both states may not be able to capitalize on the incumbents' possible vulnerabilities. According to Stephanie Kessler of the Wyoming Outdoor Council, Pete Maxfield has alienated labor, trial lawyers, environmentalists and "most of the Democratic party constituencies' during his time in the state Senate. His Democratic rival, Casper insurance salesman Worth Christie, has never held an office before, although he has run for state legislator both as a Democrat and a Republican. And in Idaho, Williams has such little name and face recognition he has been called the ghost candidate.

High Country News Classifieds
  • COPPER STAIN: ASARCO'S LEGACY IN EL PASO
    Tales from scores of ex-employees unearth the human costs of an economy that runs on copper.
  • FEATURES DIRECTOR - HIGH COUNTRY NEWS
    High Country News, an award-winning news organization covering the communities and environment of the Western United States, seeks a Features Director to join our editorial...
  • GENERAL MANAGER
    The Board of UYWCD seeks a new GM to manage operations & to implement our robust strategic plan. Details at www.upperyampawater.com. EOE
  • IN TUCSON, FOR SALE: A BEAUTIFUL, CLASSIC MID-CENTURY MODERN HOME
    designed by architect David Swanson in 1966. Located a block from Saguaro National Forest, yet minutes to Downtown and the UofA campus, 3706 sqft, 6...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    The Friends of the San Juans is seeking a new leader guide our efforts to protect and restore the San Juan Islands and the Salish...
  • 80 ACRES
    straddles North Platte Fishery, Wyoming. Legal access 2 miles off 1-80. Call 720-440-7633.
  • DIRECTOR OF PRODUCT AND MARKETING
    High Country News seeks a Director of Product and Marketing to join our senior team during an exciting chapter of innovation and growth. This individual...
  • OWN A THRIVING MOUNTAIN GUIDE SERVICE.
    Eastern Sierra guide service for sale to person with vision & expertise to take it onwards. Since 1995 with USFS & NPS permits. Ideal for...
  • IMPROVED LOT
    Private road, hillside, views. Well, pad, septic, 99 sq.ft. hut. Dryland permaculture orchard. Wildlife. San Diego--long growing season
  • UNIQUE INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITY
    Profitable off-the-grid business located 2 miles from Glacier National Park. Owner has 6 years operating experience. Seeking investor or partner for business expansion and enhancement....
  • REMOTE SITKA ALASKA FLOAT HOUSE VACATION RENTAL
    Vacation rental located in calm protected waters 8 miles from Sitka, AK via boat with opportunities to fish and view wildlife. Skiff rental also available.
  • EXPERT LAND STEWART
    Available for site conservator, property manager. View resume at http://skills.ojadigital.net.
  • CONSERVATIONIST? IRRIGABLE LAND?
    Stellar seed-saving NGO is available to serious partner. Package must include financial support. Details: http://seeds.ojaidigital.net.
  • CANYONLANDS FIELD INSTITUTE
    Colorado Plateau Natural & Human History Field Seminars. Lodge, river, hiking options. Small groups, guest experts.
  • WESTERN NATIVE SEED
    Specializing in native seeds and seed mixes for western states.
  • CHUCK BURR'S CULTUREQUAKE.COM BLOG
    Change will happen when we see a new way of living. Thinking to save the world.
  • COMING TO TUCSON?
    Popular vacation house, furnished, 2 bed/1 bath, yard, dog-friendly. Lee at [email protected] or 520-791-9246.
  • OJO CALIENTE COMMERCIAL VENTURE
    Outstanding location near the world famous Ojo Caliente Mineral Spring Resort. Classic adobe Mercantile complete w/living quarters, separate 6 unit B&B, metal building and spacious...