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Ted Ladd's Uphill Run {Wyoming Democrat Challenges Congresswoman Barbara Cubin}
Cheyenne Wyoming Tribune-Eagle ^ | 10-26-04 | Lowell, Jessica

Posted on 10/26/2004 12:40:23 PM PDT by Theodore R.

Ladd's uphill run Candidate hopes to be the first Wyoming Democrat since 1978

By Jessica Lowell Published in the Wyoming Tribune-Eagle

CHEYENNE - Sticking closely to a schedule that has been worked out days in advance, Ted Ladd arrives at VFW Post 1881 here at about 11 a.m.

The wood-paneled function hall on the main floor stands mostly empty, but men and women fill the seats at the bar off to the right, watching TV and talking among themselves.

They're not paying attention to the lunch that is being laid out on tables in the back of the hall, nor to the clean-cut candidate, his wife, Laura, or members of his campaign who are getting ready to meet whoever comes to see Ted Ladd in action.

On this day, Oct. 14, Ladd is campaigning in Cheyenne in his bid to become the first Democratic U.S. representative from Wyoming since Teno Roncalio left office for the second time in 1978 at the end of his fifth term.

When you're running a campaign to challenge an established incumbent, you're doing just that: running. Every day is another chance to meet people, to explain who you are, what you do and to ask for another vote.

Ladd does this, and has been doing this, most days since he started his uphill run for Congress in March. And it is by all accounts an uphill run.

Ladd is a Democrat, and he is facing a five-term Republican incumbent in a state where Republicans outnumber Democrats by more than 2 to 1.

This Thursday is a windy, cloudy fall day, which doesn't bode well for plans later in the day to knock on doors and ask for votes. That decision is still hours away, and there are plenty of stops to make first.

Campaign experts say there is no substitute for the candidate in a political race.

Ladd has taken that to heart. With two weeks and four days left until the general election, he still is running hard.

He has spent the previous day in Torrington, and the next day he'll wind up in Cheyenne with a radio debate before heading to Rawlins and ultimately back home to Wilson, where he hasn't been in about three weeks.

At 9 a.m. he parks his Oldsmobile sport utility vehicle outside the Blue Cross-Blue Shield building on House Avenue.

It's the first stop in a plan that will take him to the Qwest executive offices, the VFW, a meeting with Cheyenne Mayor Jack Spiker, a campaign stop at Laramie County Community College, a visit to the Pointe Frontier retirement community and some door-to-door campaigning with Gov. Dave Freudenthal.

Ladd, his wife and staff are waiting for human resources director Kathi Tarantola to guide them through the building to meet as many workers as they can and leave campaign brochures on desks and in break rooms.

"If the candidates ask, we let them come through," Tarantola says. "We had quite a parade in 2002 with all the governor candidates."

At each floor, it's the same thing.

"I saw you last night on TV!" someone will announce.

"How'd I look?" Ladd asks.

If you like what you read, please consider voting for me, Ladd tells them.

As he is shaking hands, his campaign manager, John Vanvig, is doing a little advance work, handing out fliers and telling workers that the candidate is making the rounds if they would like to meet him.

Working as hard as Ladd is wife Laura: She's shaking hands, talking about Ted and asking people about their jobs. Later in the day, she will say campaigning is hard work.

"You need to be engaged," she says. "You can't be insincere when you talk to people."

At Blue Cross-Blue Shield, many workers are women who are processing claims or talking to customers on the phone, and they are not an easy sell because they are focused closely on the task at hand.

"I feel bad disrupting so many people," Ladd says, trying not to annoy potential voters but still making contact with as many as he can.

In the basement mailroom he gets one of the warmest welcomes he will have all day. In some cases, people take his brochure and barely wait until he passes before throwing it away.

One of the women working in the mailroom is an election judge and a Democrat.

"You've had my vote for a long time," she says, grinning. "We definitely need a change. I am keeping my fingers crossed, and I will definitely say a little prayer for you."

About two hours later, at the VFW on Nationway, a group has gathered around Ladd, pulling up chairs to hear what he has to say and to ask him questions.

"Are you running as a Republican in disguise?" asks a man named Bill.

"I don't know how to answer that," Ladd says.

He says he disagrees with parts of the national Democratic platform and parts of the national Republican platform.

"I don't know where the party labels are anymore. I'm running as Ted Ladd," he says.

"That's good," Bill responds. "I'll vote for you then."

When considering parties, Ladd says his interests align more with the Democrat side of the ticket. But they don't match up 100 percent, he adds.

"The only thing worse than running for office in Wyoming as a Democrat is running as an independent," Ladd says.

His delivery is humorous, but he is not really joking.

If elected, he says, he's probably going to anger party Democrats and party Republicans because he doesn't embrace traditional party platforms.

He says that is a good thing. Rep. Barbara Cubin, R-Wyo., is tied up in the partisan gridlock that's the hallmark of Washington politics, he adds.

The best way to break that is to send a Democrat who has to prove every two years that he has helped Wyoming, he says.

The talk turns to one of the key issues on voters' minds: the rising cost of health care and prescription drugs.

Teresa Wolff says she would like to see ads by pharmaceutical companies stopped. She adds that prescription drugs are over-prescribed.

Ladd says he doesn't agree because those companies have the same right to advertise as companies in other consumer products businesses.

"There are no perfect solutions," he adds. "Anyone who tells you that doesn't have it right.

"As a country, we're looking for something better than we had. The prescription program? We tried it, and it doesn't work. Maybe we should pull the plug and try something else."

One of the reasons he says he is running for Congress is that he believes federal lawmakers are taking action based not on what they hear on the streets from constituents but from lobbyists who come to their offices.

"I do believe he's committed to the people of Wyoming," Wolff says a little later.

She had seen the ad in the paper, and the VFW is close to where she lives, so she decided to stop by and meet Ladd.

"He's willing to look at the issues for what's best for Wyoming, what outcome is best for the state," she adds.

She says she will vote for Ladd, and not as a vote against Cubin, and she collects a yard sign.

"It's possible to elect a Democrat to Congress because I think there are enough Republicans out there who are irritated with Barbara Cubin, who has not shown up for votes and who is not accessible to people," she says.

In Ladd's maroon SUV is everything he needs to campaign.

His cell phone is mounted on a hands-free stand so he can take calls while on the road and give interviews. The back is filled with campaign materials, clothes and everything else a candidate needs, and the rear windows are covered with Ladd for Congress stickers.

As he crosses Cheyenne one more time, Ladd talks about being compared to John Kerry, the Democrat who is challenging President Bush.

Just as Republicans are taking shots at Kerry for changing his mind, state Republicans are making a great deal of Ladd changing his mind to support a cut in the trona tax by two-thirds, which Cubin has championed.

Ladd said he had read a University of Wyoming study on what impact changing taxes on coal would have. The result is that it doesn't change anything, he said.

"I spent some time in Sweetwater County, and it was demonstrated to me that the economics of coal and trona are different," he says.

China is coming on strong as a producer of trona in the world market, but its costs do not include environmental or employee protection or health care.

"We won't be able to fix the health-care and trade problems soon enough. We can't wait to fix the real problems," he says, so he changed his mind.

"People are taking shots at me, but I'm not in this for my pride. Changing your mind is bad when you are pandering, saying different things to people based on what they want to hear."

In this case, he says, the boards of the trona operations have committed to reinvest the money they won't pay in taxes back into technology and payrolls. In the end, it keeps employment up.

"I am going to be learning the rest of my life," he says. "I decided not to get nasty. Cubin has flip-flopped on term limits and a balanced budget, but let's move on."

In the days that would follow, the Cubin campaign will take other shots at Ladd, chiefly about the fact that he was born in Massachusetts and has lived in Wyoming a relatively short time. He has lived in the state before for short periods of time.

One of Ladd's main issues is stemming the flood of the state's young people leaving the state, and he is asked about that during the day by a woman whose son is a lawyer in Washington, D.C., and whose daughter is a chief financial officer at a Denver hospital.

"We made trade-offs with compensation when we decided to live here," Laura Ladd says.

Ladd says he would like to see the U.S. Small Business Administration start up a couple of programs here that exist in other states, like the Senior Corps of Retired Executives.

"It's OK for kids to go off and see the world and learn a lot of stuff," he says. "I would like to see them come back here and start a company."

If Ladd is elected, the irony is he and his wife would leave the state where they chose to settle and move to Washington.

Before the primary, Ladd issued his Contract with Wyoming, in which he has promised, if elected, to visit every county in the state at least once a year, to be present to vote in the House at least 90 percent of the time, and to not vote to increase the deficit unless he finds a cut to balance out the spending.

Whatever happens, he says, 2005 will be the year of the wife. Laura Ladd has been on the road with her husband and trying to continue working with clients of the couple's consulting firm, Hewitt Ladd Inc., by keeping in touch in the mornings before they head out and during breaks in the day.

It's a little after 5 p.m., and Freudenthal meets the Ladd campaign at Pointe Frontier.

The plan turns out to be a bust: The residents are already eating dinner, and campaigning is not allowed then. What's more, an absentee ballot drive came through the day before, and most already have voted.

The small entourage moves over to McCue Drive, a residential street around the corner and across Powderhouse Road. The wind has calmed, and the sun has come out; there's no rain in sight.

Freudenthal and Ladd find some people are not home from work yet.

"Don't cut across the lawn," the governor cautions Ladd as they move between houses.

Ladd backs up and walks down the driveway to the sidewalk and on to the next house.

"Just trying to be efficient with time," Ladd says.

Only a few people answer their doors, so Ladd ends up leaving more brochures than he makes contacts.

In the end, that will have to do: Ladd has an early-morning debate, and this day will end only after an evening of preparation.

Before they reach the end of the street, a woman who opens her door says she hasn't decided yet whom she will vote for.

"It would be great to have this kind of leadership in Washington," Freudenthal says.

TOPICS: Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: barbaracubin; cheyenne; congress; democrat; jackspiker; republican; tedladd; tenoroncalio; wy
All WY congressmen since Richard B. Cheney (elected 1978) have been Republican. Cubin is under fire for lack of accessibility and missing key votes, Democrats charge.
1 posted on 10/26/2004 12:40:26 PM PDT by Theodore R.
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To: Theodore R.
Richard B. Cheney (elected 1978)

Whatever happened to that guy? ;)

2 posted on 10/26/2004 12:44:20 PM PDT by TheBigB (Please Lord...let Bush win and I naughty thoughts about Lindsay Lohan for a week.)
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To: Theodore R.

The only thing is your Democrat congressman may not be bad but however, the leadership positions are filled by the liberal ilk of Joe Biden, Ted Kennedy, not those like Zell Miller. A vote to put a Democrat into office is a vote for the radical liberal DemocRAT leader. Something to remember.

3 posted on 10/26/2004 12:49:09 PM PDT by CORedneck
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To: Theodore R.
Republicans are making a great deal of Ladd changing his mind to support a cut in the trona tax by two-thirds, which Cubin has championed.

I don't have a clue what a "trona" tax is but I say don't just cut it, eliminate it. Bad tax, go away!

4 posted on 10/26/2004 1:00:38 PM PDT by Graybeard58
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To: Theodore R.

Were Ladd to be elected, the FIRST vote he would cast would be to elect Nancy Pelosi Speaker of the House. So why doesn't he bring her in to campaign for him?

5 posted on 10/26/2004 1:01:24 PM PDT by ken5050
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