- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 20, 2014

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - Gov. Matt Mead’s victory in Tuesday’s Republican primary set the stage for a general election against Pete Gosar, a scrappy Democrat who says he’s prepared to match his hustle and drive against the incumbent’s advantages in voter registration and funding.

Mead said he won the Republican primary over Dr. Taylor Haynes and Superintendent of Public Instruction Cindy Hill by focusing on his record and refusing to engage in negative campaigning. He also said he looked forward to the race against Gosar, noting he had appointed Gosar to state board of education.

“We’re certainly eager to discuss some of the issues he’s been discussing, from the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid expansion and education,” Mead said. “I know he’s going to work hard, and we will certainly work as hard as we can as well, and do our best to earn the voters’ of Wyoming support.”

Seeking a second term, Mead has enjoyed considerable support from the state’s energy industry. He has been an outspoken advocate for Wyoming’s coal industry, traveling to Asia to seek new markets and filing numerous legal challenges to U.S. Environmental Protection air-quality regulations he says would hurt the industry.

The Republican Governors Association swiftly congratulated Mead.

“Wyoming is a stronger state today thanks to Gov. Mead’s smart, results-driven leadership,” said New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, chairman of the association.

Gosar, 46, stepped down as chairman of the Wyoming Democratic Party to mount his long-shot gubernatorial campaign. In Wyoming, Republicans hold a 3 to 1 registration advantage over Democrats, and the GOP holds every statewide elected office.

Even before Tuesday’s primary - he was unopposed - Gosar directed the brunt of his campaign against Mead, criticizing the governor’s opposition to the federal Affordable Care Act. Mead has declined to apply for millions of dollars in available federal money under the act to expand Medicaid coverage to some 17,600 working adults in the state. He says he doesn’t trust federal promises to continue to fund the program.

Gosar said Tuesday he looked forward to focusing on Mead’s first-term record.

“I think if you look at science, or health care, education in general, you’ll see that there’s not a clear vision and not a clear leadership style,” Gosar said.

Hill had attacked Mead directly in the GOP primary campaign, accusing him of not telling the truth about what she said were his efforts to remove her from running the Wyoming Department of Education.

Hill personally sued to overturn legislation that Mead signed into law removing her from the education department. She campaigned on the position that she had fought to uphold the rights of the voters not to have their choice of her as department head overturned.

Mead brushed off Hill’s criticisms, saying that responding would lead to “it’s a race toward the bottom.”

Haynes campaigned on the notion that he would drive the federal government out of Wyoming. He said the state would prosper if it didn’t have to share its mineral wealth with the federal government.

Mead, a former U.S. attorney for Wyoming, said during the campaign he didn’t believe Haynes’ approach was constitutional. Governors, he said, are bound to deal with reality, not spin their wheels engaging in fantasies about how things ought to be.

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