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    State Sen. Schuler Says She’s ‘Had It’ With Mean, Divisive Politics In Legislature

    State Sen. Wendy Schuler, R-Evanston, isn’t known for being one of the Wyoming Legislature’s rabble-rousers.

    The mild-mannered second-term senator from Uinta County is usually a voice of compromise and reason inside a chamber that has shown an increasing propensity for divisiveness and infighting.

    And Schuler’s had about enough of the infighting and posturing, telling Cowboy State Daily that she “just kind of had it” when she wrote a critical column summarizing the recently completed legislative session for the Wednesday Uinta County Herald, calling out some of her fellow legislators for their “lack of professionalism and integrity.”

    “It was a frustrating situation, it really was,” she said about the recently completed 2024 session. “We killed a lot of things we shouldn’t have.”

    Listen To Constituents, Not Out-Of-Staters

    Second Amendment advocacy group Wyoming Gun Owners went after Schuler during the session for opposing House Bill 125, legislation that would repeal gun-free zones in Wyoming.

    “Wyoming Gun Owners, they’ll go after me, I don’t care,” Schuler said. “People here in Wyoming are the people that are most important. Some of these guys from out-of-state show up once a year at the Capitol, I could care less.”

    Although founded by Sen. Anthony Bouchard, R-Cheyenne, WyGO is now run by Aaron Dorr, a lobbyist who lives in Iowa. WyGO members have been accused in the past of using aggressive tactics and badgering lawmakers with inappropriate messages on bills.

    Dorr said he found Schuler’s comments a source of “great amusement.”

    “WyGO apologizes for nothing,” Dorr said. “Our unrelenting grassroots pressure is the reason why WyGO has passed a stand-your-ground law, why our members have thrown dozens of RINOs into the dustbin of Wyoming political history and how we were able to put two landmark gun bills on Governor Gordon’s desk this session.

    “We look forward to continuing the fight for freedom and exposing RINOs like Schuler in elections for years to come.”

    No Backing Down

    Schuler unsuccessfully attempted to bring an amendment to the bill requiring anyone who intends to carry a concealed weapon into a public school to notify the school district’s superintendent in writing. Her amendment failed on a 24-6 vote.

    “Schuler is whining because WyGO opposed her terrible amendment to HB-125, which would have created a de facto gun registry here in Wyoming,” Dorr said.

    Schuler stands by her vote against the bill and said she made it based on the input of her constituents, as she does without almost all her votes. She said she keeps tallies of the input she receives from constituents to guide her votes.

    “I literally had hundreds of emails saying ‘don’t vote for (HB) 125, we have school security already, we spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to make our schools secure and we don’t need this,’” she said. “So, I listened to them.”

    She believes certain members of the Legislature have become too responsive to outside influences and posturing for elections.

    “I think we don’t need have somebody from Washington, D.C., wherever they get their notes to say how to vote,” Schuler said. “My constituents, they’re the ones that matter.”

    Other Disappointments

    Schuler was also disappointed that the Joint Travel, Recreation, Wildlife & Cultural Resources Interim Committee’s bill to increase nonresident fishing license fees died on introduction, as did her individual bill requiring children to attend school by the age 6 in Wyoming.

    “It didn’t matter if they needed money or not,” Schuler said of her fellow legislator’s votes on the first day of the session.

    A two-thirds vote is required to introduce any non-budget bill during a budget session.

    In conversation with her fellow lawmakers, Schuler said she came to the conclusion that many were either being told how to vote by outside organizations or voting blindly against anything that resulted in an increase in government revenue or spending.

    “I just couldn’t get answers that I thought were sufficient in my mind,” she said.

    Party Politics?

    Schuler believes there is an inordinate amount of Republican Party politics being played in the Legislature. She said her biggest priority is representing the wishes of her constituents, not adhering to a party platform.

    A commitment to vote with the Republican Party platform on at least 80% of votes has become a popular litmus test for loyalty to the party in GOP circles.

    “Most of the folks that I talk to here are good with that,” she said. “The party platform doesn’t mean to me as much as what my people mean.”

    ‘Silent Majority’

    She believes “extremist” voices that fail to represent the majority of Wyoming residents are waging an undue amount of political influence against what she sees as the “silent majority” represented by the rest of the state.

    Schuler said she’s willing to knock on doors and campaign for other candidates during the upcoming election season to combat this and is optimistic the Legislature can improve in the future. She mentioned how more traditional Republicans took back the Uinta County Republican Party from far-right leadership last year as a similar “transformational” effort.

    “I just think the majority of people in Wyoming, that’s what they want,” she said. “I think there’s such a small minority of people that are the loud extremists on either side, and they don’t really represent probably 80% of our population.”

    Her preference is for long-term residents to “step up to the plate” and run for office.

    “I think we kind of fell asleep at the wheel a little bit out here in our beautiful state and didn’t get involved as much as we should have,” she said.

    Out-Of-State Mentality

    Schuler said Wyoming politics has changed significantly since she first entered the legislative fray in 2018. She sees less collaboration and compromise occurring on bills, and a general fragmentation of the body.

    “I hope in the elections coming up that we continue to try and find people that are common sense, reasonable sense people, whether they’re Republicans or Democrats,” she said. “Listening to their constituents and not some other stuff that comes into play.”

    Schuler, a fifth-generation Wyomingite, said she’s concerned with how many new residents are running for office in Wyoming. She believes most of these people haven’t made an effort to understand Wyoming culture or their neighbor’s beliefs.

    “I’m not saying those folks that have moved in the last two or three years can’t assimilate and figure out what the Wyoming way is, but I don’t think they always do,” Schuler said.

    She wants to see people serve on local boards and councils before they run for a position in the legislature or higher.

    “I don’t think they (voters) want somebody they hardly know that just spews the right thing,” Schuler said. “I’m not a big fan of extremists.”

    Schuler has won both her Republican primary elections by comfortable margins. If she chooses to run again, she’ll be up for reelection in 2026.

    “They get to have me for two years and some of them may not like that,” she said. “But I’m around for two more years with my happy cheery face.”

    Leo Wolfson can be reached at Leo@CowboyStateDaily.com.

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