Saturday, November 22, 2014

Fictional characters CAN win

A headline in the Wyoming Tribune-Eagle the day before this month’s general election brought a smile. “Fictional characters can’t win Wyoming elections.”

The smile disappeared the next day next day when voters actually elected a fictional character to the state House of Representatives. Harlan Edmunds is now a state legislator. Only a “fictional character” makes his living off the government while moonlighting as an anti-government activist and publicly trashes legislators prior to running for the office himself.

The Wyoming Tribune-Eagle endorsed Lee Filer, Edmunds opponent, because the editorial board found it “hard to consider Mr. Edmonds a serious candidate.”

We’ll soon learn whether Edmunds is a serious legislator. 

Harlan is a state employee who openly expresses disdain for government. He is equally clear in his disdain for more than a few of those fellow Republicans he now joins in the legislature.

As the founder of CROW (Conservative Republicans of Wyoming) Edmunds solicited others to provide “evidence of Republican misconduct, from deliberate efforts to undermine conservative persons, principles, organizations, or legislation, to violations of trust or law, or other ethical problems” so that he might investigate them.

On his website, the Republican legislator-elect crowed, “As a part of CROW’s mission to recruit and elect conservative Republican leaders, it may become necessary to identify liberal Republican officials for removal, either for purposes of rehabilitation or permanent retirement from any position of trust within the Republican Party.”

He made no bones that among those “liberal Republicans” are Governor Mead, state senator Charlie Scott, and others with whom he will uneasily caucus.  Edmunds claimed on the WyWatch website that we “are engaged in a great civil war” and that Matt Mead and other GOP elected officials are on the wrong side of the battle line.

He calls the Republican-dominated state capitol “a RINO (Republican-in-name-only) petting zoo.”

Edmunds pounced on Wyoming’s all-GOP congressional delegation, citing their “reluctance to fight as often and as visibly as the rising conservative fire-eaters. For Edmunds, the latter are folks like Ted Cruz.

It’s not only legislative colleagues on the receiving end of Edmund’s rhetorical strafing. He viciously shelled the lobbyists with whom he’ll now have to work.

In a WyWatch website editorial, Edmunds called the Capitol Club “a sort of subterranean scupper-hole” where a “hive of lobbyists” meet to “begin their quest to cajole legislators either to ‘fence-in’ their employer’s interests or to ‘fence-out’ their employer’s competition.”

Capitol Club members are professionals who lobby the legislature. Their mission, per their website, is “to promote, among its membership, the highest standards of responsible, professional lobbying before the Wyoming State Legislature in order to affect timely and beneficial public policy for the state of Wyoming, its businesses and citizens.” Most responsible observers believe they fulfill that mission.

Perhaps, like me, you’ve never used the term “scupper-hole.” Google defines “scupper holes” as foot and tank wells in the beds of kayaks, which allow water coming over the deck of the kayak to automatically drain out.

Hopefully at least one member of the Capitol Club, the vast majority of whom are Republicans, will inquire. What the heck did Edmunds mean comparing them to a “subterranean scupper-hole?” Context makes clear the term wasn’t intended to compliment these men and women for the contributions they make to the legislative process.

It’ll be entertaining to watch Edmunds rubbing shoulders with people he disdains. Those who elected him may get a lesson on the importance of their vote if they watch him advance his extreme personal agenda, not as a commentator, but as a legislator.

Edmonds is a Wyoming Department of Transportation employee but believes Wyoming should become self-sufficient, rejecting all federal funding. He’ll have an opportunity to propose replacing WDOT federal funds with state dollars.

Edmunds can either throw CROW-bombs from the cheap seats or do the hard work of representing all of his constituents, but he cannot do both.

We’ll know by the end of the coming session whether Harlan Edmunds is a serious legislator or just another fictional character.

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