Public-lands issues loom large in November

  • Wyoming

    Diane Sylvain

Note: This article is a sidebar to a feature story.

A hot election issue this year in Wyoming is the fate of the state's 3.6 million-acre school trust lands, which generate money for the public school system. The Legislature approved the sale of some 35,000 acres in 1995, despite well-attended protests. Primary results show little tolerance for legislators who approved the sales: The incumbent who was responsible for killing a moratorium on sales lost her bid for re-election.

Public-lands issues also figure in the race for retiring Republican Sen. Alan Simpson's seat. Former Secretary of State Kathy Karpan, who hopes to become the first Wyoming Democrat in the U.S. Senate in more than 20 years, opposes the transfer of federal lands to states proposed by Wyoming's other senator, Republican Craig Thomas. Karpan says Wyoming has a difficult time managing the land it already controls.

Karpan's opponent is state Sen. Mike Enzi, a mining booster. Stephanie Kessler at the Wyoming Outdoor Council characterizes Enzi as an "extremist anti-environmentalist."

Meanwhile, another fighter against the "War on the West," freshman Republican Rep. Barbara Cubin, is defending Wyoming's only House seat against Democrat Pete Maxfield, who's also not known for his environmental record. Recent Democratic polls show that Maxfield may be closing the gap.

On the ballot: U.S. SENATE: Kathy Karpan (D) vs. Mike Enzi (R). U.S. HOUSE: Barbara Cubin (R-incumb.) vs. Pete Maxfield (D).

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