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Trump card being played in local elections

Updated: Aug 11, 2022

By Abby Vander GraaffLaramie Boomerang

LARAMIE – Wyoming is at a crossroads going into the heart of this year’s midterm election season. U.S. House candidates Liz Cheney and Harriet Hageman, bothRepublicans, represent an increasingly wide and volatile rift among conservatives.

Nearly 10,000 people packed into the Ford Wyoming Center in Casper to attend a rally with Donald Trump on May 28 to show their support for the former president and promote Hageman’s push to unseat the incumbent Cheney. The congress womanhas been a national political firebrand since voting to impeach Trump following theJan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol and her position as vice-chair of the select House committee investigating the incident.

The rally also was a visible platform for Republican candidates seeking election at state and local levels. Across the nation, from high-profile races to battles for city council and county offices, support for Trump and his platform has become a campaign issue for conservative voters.

As the House Select Committee on the Jan. 6 Attack has begun presenting findings from its investigations of the insurrection of the Capitol and Trump’s continuing claims of fraud in the 2020 election, the support, denouncement or silence from candidates on the issue is something local voters may consider when they head to the polls.

So far this year, 5,951 Albany County voters have registered as Democrats, 9,047 as Republicans and 3,481 are unaffiliated, according to the Wyoming Secretary of State’s Office.

Albany County is considered to be relatively balanced politically in comparison with the rest of Wyoming, which is considered one of the nation’s most conservative states. Still, issues within and outside of the Republican Party play a role in elections.

One Republican candidate for Albany County sheriff, Rafael Delgadillo, has been outspoken about his support for Trump and Hageman on his campaign Facebook page. He’s posted multiple photos of himself at the Casper rally, including close-ups of U.S. Reps. Lauren Bobert, R-Colorado, Kat Cammack, R-Florida, and Andy Biggs, R-Arizona.

He also posted a selfie with Mike Lindell, the My Pillow CEO known for making unsubstantiated claims about the existence and extent of election fraud in the 2020 presidential election.

“At the Save America Rally with Mike Lindell of My Pillow fame,” Delgadillo wrote in a Facebook post. “Mike was responsible for documenting fraud in the 2020 election.”

Lindell has put millions of dollars into sharing his election fraud claims, which include a film on the subject set to be released in July. Elections technology companies have filed lawsuits against Lindell saying there is not evidence for the claims.

Sheriff’s race

Political allegiances very well could become an issue in local races, Delgadillo said.The race for sheriff is the most high-profile contested Albany County race leading up to the Aug. 16 primary.

“It could inflame people for and against (a particular candidate), and I’m OK with that,” he said.

Delgadillo also said the Jan. 6, 2021, committee has only represented one side of the story of what happened that day.

“I looked at that and I saw a peaceful demonstration,” Delgadillo said of the Jan. 6incident. “There were fringe groups that did violate the Capitol, that did injure some police officers and those people should be punished by the law. They should also be given their constitutional rights.”

Delgadillo said that while he hasn’t discerned voter fraud on the local level, he feels nationwide voter fraud is a legitimate concern and that its further investigation is essential for democracy.

Other candidates for sheriff said they feel the issue of elections management should be left to those who are professionals in the area.

“Elections we run here in Albany County are top-notch,” said Sheriff Aaron Appelhans, who was appointed mid-term in 2020 and is running for the first time asa Democrat. “They are free, open and secure. They always have been and will continue to be.”

Appelhans said he hasn’t had concerns about voter fraud in 2020 presidential election and that the facts support this stance.

“For a law enforcement perspective, we always present the facts,” he said. “We present them in an unbiased way. How people take in those facts is up to them.”

Other candidates

Aside from mentioning that he supports the work of local election representatives,Democratic sheriff candidate Curtis Moore said he feels national politics are irrelevant to Albany County.

“You give honest answers and keep people informed,” Moore said about handling divisive situations. “This is a society of instant news and feedback, and the quicker you accept that the better off you will be.”

Joel Senior, who is running for sheriff as a Republican, said that while holding legal elections are important, the issues of alleged election fraud and the insurrection shouldn’t have an impact on local races.

“I would hope that locally people are more focused on bringing people together than dividing them,” he said.

Democratic candidate Zeb Gladney said that while disagreement is healthy to a certain point, there are better ways to be politically active than to storm the U.S.Capitol. He also emphasized the importance of elevating local issues and the local community.

“(I want to) make sure the community has what it needs to get both parties to work together, and get everyone to at least a compromise level,” Gladney said.

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