Nurse challenges incumbent representative

The Republican representative for Wyoming’s House District 14 will face a Democrat looking to take his seat in November’s general election.

Democrat challenger Lorraine Saulino-Klein is running against incumbent Rep. Dan Furphy, R-Laramie. House District 14 represents roughly 9,000 people from northeastern Laramie and Albany County. Furphy has had the seat since 2016. Former Republican Speaker of the House Kermit Brown of Laramie had the seat before Furphy. Brown is now a member of the University of Wyoming Board of Trustees.

Saulino-Klein said she was running because she is concerned about the health of the community. She has more than four decades of experience in the health care sector. Saulino-Klein said with all the talk about health care, it is worth having someone with her experience in the Legislature. While she said she Furphy is a nice guy, Saulino-Klein thinks being a Democrat will allow her to stand up to the conservative majority.

Furphy’s experience in the Legislature will leave him better prepared to work on Wyoming’s tight budget, he said. An estimated $900 million shortfall in the previous budget cycle meant lawmakers had to draw heavily from the state’s Legislative Stabilization Reserve Account, commonly known as the rainy-day fund. But Furphy said the savings being used to balance the state’s budget won’t be there forever.

Both candidates were concerned about funding for the University of Wyoming. Furphy said he was concerned the university could lose its prestigious position without more funding. Saulino-Klein said the Legislature cannot keep “beating up” the university if it is to continue to be a prestigious institution. Unlike some Wyoming Republicans in the Legislature, Saulino-Klein said she would not be bound to a no-new-tax pledge. She said the Legislature should have voted to receive federal tax dollars for health care by expanding Medicaid. Saulino-Klein said the people of Wyoming already pay taxes that would pay for Medicaid expansion, so they should receive the money back. Both candidates said they favor an increase in the state’s cigarette tax as they think it will help discourage young people from smoking.

Furphy said he is not one of those Republicans who oppose all taxes, and he has not taken any kind of no-tax pledge. He said he voted to expand Medicaid. There should be an increased tax on cigarettes, Furphy said. He cited a study that showed cigarette smokers cost Wyoming $240 million dollars a year in both public and private costs. He said, however, he would not support a personal income tax in Wyoming.

On the issue of gun control, Furphy said he supports people’s right to bear arms. He said he worked diligently on the Wyoming “stand your ground” bill, making sure it only applies in cases where the shooter was in mortal danger.

Saulino-Klein said she was in support of common sense gun control.

She said she favors institutions creating their own policies on weapons. It should be up to the schools or hospitals if they would want weapons on their premises, she said.

Fuprhy won his seat in 2016 in a campaign facing Laramie Democrat Erin O’Doherty. He garnered 2,200 votes, accounting for about 60 percent of the total. Furphy has served on the House Revenue Committee; the House Corporations, Elections and Political Subdivision; and Select Committee on Capital Financing & Investments.

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