- Associated Press - Thursday, October 20, 2016

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - Tension mounted in a U.S. House race debate Thursday as Democrat Ryan Greene and Republican Liz Cheney traded a series of increasingly hostile barbs and even accused one another of relying on their parents to secure jobs for them.

Cheney suggested that Greene, who works in his family’s oilfield services company, is out of touch with the hard times encountered by recently laid-off Wyoming coal miners.

“Not everybody in our state has the job security of being able to work in their parents’ company for their whole career, like my opponent,” Cheney said.

Greene quickly interrupted: “Not everybody was given a job in the State Department because their father was vice president.”

Cheney was a State Department official specializing in U.S. policy in the Middle East while her father, Dick Cheney, was vice president under George W. Bush. She also has been a Fox News commentator.

Greene works for Greene’s Energy Services in Rock Springs.

The only debate to be held among the four candidates for Wyoming’s lone seat in the U.S. House also included Libertarian Lawrence Struempf and Constitution Party candidate Daniel Cummings. But Greene and Cheney created by far the biggest political fireworks Wyoming has seen this year as each sought to undermine the other.

Each questioned the other’s ties outside the state. Greene said he doesn’t support significant restrictions on guns and fossil fuel development but Cheney questioned that, saying Greene is aligned with Democrats who do.

“My opponent can act like, ‘Gosh, we’re all on the same page here.’ But we really aren’t,” Cheney said, mocking Greene’s sometimes folksy demeanor.

Greene said Cheney can’t honestly claim to oppose tax subsidies for renewable energy when her top donors include Phil Anschutz, a major wind-energy developer.

Cheney has vastly outraised and outspent Greene and the others in the race. Cheney said she has raised more money from inside Wyoming than her opponents have, but Greene said her substantial out-of-state donations put her loyalties elsewhere.

“L.A., New York, D.C., and Chicago. Let’s be honest, folks. They don’t give a hoot about Wyoming issues,” he said.

Meanwhile, Cheney swung back around to Greene’s ties to Democrats several times.

“The candidate in this race who can’t be trusted is my opponent. He tells you now that he’s a Wyoming Democrat. He tells you that he’s a moderate. He tells you he’ll fight for our issues. He caucused for Bernie Sanders,” she said.

Greene interrupted her again. “Did you caucus here or were you in Virginia?”

Cheney moved to Jackson Hole from Virginia in 2012, the year before she launched a short-lived campaign to unseat fellow Republican Sen. Mike Enzi. Accusations that she moved into the state in pursuit of political opportunity undermined that campaign and have played a much smaller role in this one now that Cheney’s lived in the state four years.

Cheney also criticized Greene for announcing Monday his support for Hillary Clinton, one week after he told The Associated Press neither Clinton nor Donald Trump had earned his vote.

The Casper Star-Tribune and Wyoming PBS hosted the debate at Casper College.


Follow Mead Gruver at https://twitter.com/meadgruver

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