On a windy, cold November afternoon, Mary Throne switched out a thin puffy jacket for a long woolen one and turned the collar up against the breeze.
Throne had just parked next to Teton County Fairgrounds on Thursday to begin one of the most important, if not the most glamorous, parts of being a candidate for statewide office: canvassing.
“I did a lot more of this when I was a candidate for the Legislature,” said the gubernatorial hopeful. “But we’ve knocked on a good number of doors this time around.”
Throne and her campaign’s operations manager, Cindy Lewis, were trying to turn out likely voters in one of the few parts of the state where Democratic candidates stand a chance. Even though more than 60 percent of votes cast in the primary election in Teton County were from ballots marked Republican — some of which could be attributed to party switching — several Democratic candidates look likely to be elected, so Throne was capitalizing on the strength of the party to turn out more votes for her governor’s office bid. She’s running against Republican Mark Gordon, Constitution Party candidate Rex Rammell and Libertarian Lawrence Struempf.
Midafternoon Thursday at Spark, a downtown co-working space, Throne met with a few volunteers and local Democratic candidates: Mike Yin, who is running for House District 16, and Seadar Rose Davis, who is seeking a seat on the Teton County Board of County Commissioners.
Clipboards were passed out with different zones in town. For her first day of canvassing in Teton County, Throne drew the two blocks between Flat Creek Drive and Jackson Street, and Kelly and Karns avenues. Pickings were scarce at first. Many of the houses and driveways were empty, with many people probably still at work.
“We’re a bit early,” Throne said.
After a few houses where Throne simply left flyers hanging on the doorknob, a woman answered the door, blinking sleepily.
“Hi, I’m Mary,” Throne said. “I was coming by to see if you knew who you were going to vote for in this election.”
“Well, I’m going to vote for you,” said the woman, Jean Fulton.
“Wow, that was easy,” Throne said.
At each of the few occupied houses, Throne spoke about the issues she sees as most pressing for Wyoming. Education and health care topped the list, as she advocates for Medicaid expansion and maintaining funding for schools. But her biggest point was economic.
“Wyoming has to escape the boom-and-bust cycle,” she told pretty much anyone who answered the door. “I’m an energy girl, but we can’t let the minerals industry keep paying all of our bills.”
While that issue may be top of mind for many communities across the state, the comment fell mostly on deaf ears in a town whose economy doesn’t rely on minerals extraction. After a couple of houses, Throne seemed to catch on.
“Well, obviously, Teton County is different, and you’re not as worried specifically about that,” she said to Barbara Tufo, a homeowner who wasn’t ready to commit to voting.
Most of Throne’s interactions were friendly, but one woman who took a flyer seemed uninterested in Throne’s message.
“Are you Emily?” Throne asked as the woman opened the door.
“Nope. That’s my son’s ex-girlfriend. Thanks for coming by,” she said as she slid the door shut.
Though the two-block radius was a small sample size, most of the people who did answer either committed to voting for Throne or said they were going to spend the last few days before the election buffing up on the candidates before making a choice.
One woman, Molly Gibbs, emphatically said she would vote for Throne.
When Throne arrived at her house, lawn signs for pretty much every Democratic candidate were stuck in the yard. Throne knocked on the door, and a voice that sounded like it said, “Come in,” sounded back. But after a long pause, during which Throne knocked again and then waited, Gibbs opened the door, smiling but on crutches, just one day out from leg surgery.
She listened to Throne’s spiel, took literature and pledged to vote for her.
“Whatever it takes, I’ll crutch myself to the polls on Tuesday,” she said.