Three Democratic candidates for governor pitched their reasons why their party's voters should choose them on the Aug. 21 primary during a debate at Casper College on Wednesday.

State Rep. Mary Throne, D-Cheyenne, said she has the most experience in dealing with government, energy and education compared to other candidates Ken Casner, a restaurant owner in Elk Mountain, and Rex Wilde, a carpenter from Cheyenne.

Candidate Michael Allen Greene of Rock Springs did not attend the debate.

Throne, Casner and Wilde agreed on most issues including providing better internet access, better prenatal care, keeping public lands in public hands, and expanding Medicaid to cover up to 20,000 Wyomingites without health insurance.

They differed somewhat on energy, with Throne advocating further development of fossil fuels, nuclear power and renewable energy sources.

Wilde and Casner leaned more toward the development of renewables including wind and solar power.

They also differed on dealing with education, which has suffered severe cutbacks in recent years.

Throne said she entered the race because the Senate wanted to dismantle the public education system. Additional cuts are not needed and the current model works for funding school, she added.

Casner favored consolidating the 48 school districts to align with the state's 23 counties.

Wilde said many of the state's financial problems including health care and education could be fixed by charging downstream users in othe states for using Wyoming water, and that the legalization of marijuana would reap major state tax revenues.

In response to a question about promoting Wyoming's second largest industry of tourism, Throne said South Dakota spends more than Wyoming to promote itself.

Wilde said legalizing marijuana would be a boon to tourism. "You won't have to go to Colorado to get your Rocky Mountain high."

They agreed the government has no right to tell a woman what to do with her body.

They reluctantly agreed that the Legislature may need to help fund the Game and Fish Department so it doesn't need to solely rely on fees for hunting and fishing.

Wilde said the department should raise those fees for out-of-state hunters and anglers.

Casner said outfitters need to be taxed.

They agreed the state needs to do more to provide mental health services to reduce the high suicide rate, and help rural health care facilities.

Regarding suicide, Throne said the state needs to provide adequate safety nets and do more to lessen the stigma of mental illness.

Wilde stunned the audience when he said his son died by suicide in 2010, and he had no answer for how to deal with that issue. "I still blame myself. I still have no clue."

In his closing statement, Wilde walked to the front of the stage and said he's a carpenter, a veteran, bilingual in English and Italian, that his passion is Wyoming's water resources, and that Wyoming would benefit from legalizing marijuana.

Casper, who unsuccessfully ran for his party's nomination for governor in 2002, said the state's residents are not represented the way they should be.

in her closing statement, Throne castigated state government for its resistance to change.

"The leadership in Cheyenne is in the dark ages," she said. "We can't be doing the same thing over and over again and expect different results."

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