Unique strategy: Hill, Lain hit campaign trail together

2014-08-10T00:00:00Z Unique strategy: Hill, Lain hit campaign trail togetherBy LAURA HANCOCK and LEAH TODD Casper Star-Tribune The Billings Gazette

 CASPER, Wyo. -- Not far from many of gubernatorial candidate Cindy Hill's red campaign signs stands a blue sign endorsing her co-worker Sheryl Lain for the top schools job in the state.

The two Republicans share a radio spot on Hill's website. A mailer sent at least to voters in the Cheyenne area features their portraits side by side, detailing their shared support for repealing the Common Core.

Lain, 70, a deputy to Hill at the Wyoming Department of Education, is running for Hill's current job, superintendent of public instruction.

She said she’s a campaign newcomer, and Hill is showing her the ropes -- from how many fliers to print and what kind of fliers to how to approach people on the trail.

“Isn’t it awesome that she’ll take this novice and show me how to do the campaigning?” Lain said. “It’s really been useful and helpful.”

Co-campaigning in the primaries is odd, said University of Wyoming history professor Phil Roberts. It’s commonplace when campaigning for the general election, however, for candidates to travel together as a party ticket.

“I've been thinking back on the primary races, and I don't remember a case like this one prior to a primary,” Roberts said. “Frankly, it would make more sense had Cindy Hill hooked up with one of the secretary of state candidates because then it would be somewhat like Colorado and other places where governors and lieutenant governors commonly run as a team.”

If primary candidates have ever campaigned together in the past, it was done quietly and out of the public eye.

“But to be this open and blatant, never,” Roberts said.

Other candidates typically support their party's winning candidates after the primaries. In interviews with the Star-Tribune, most other gubernatorial and superintendent candidates said that was the case.

GOP candidate Taylor Haynes is not saying which superintendent candidate he will vote for on Aug. 19. However, he said he will support the Republican primary victor in the Nov. 4 general election.

Gov. Matt Mead, who is seeking re-election as a Republican, has not discussed a favorite superintendent candidate, said Gale Geringer, his campaign manager.

“He is working hard on his own primary election," she said in an email. "We will address that question after Aug. 19.”

Democratic candidate Peter Gosar said he is supporting the only Democrat in the superintendent’s race, Mike Ceballos, but the two aren’t sharing commercials.

“Mike and I, we sometimes show up to the same events with other people, too, so no, we’re not campaigning together,” Gosar said.

Ceballos has not yet endorsed a candidate for governor, according to his campaign manager, Kathryn Boswell.

Jillian Balow, a Republican running for superintendent, said she has not endorsed any candidate for governor.

"I will support the Republican candidate," Balow said.

Bill Winney, another Republican candidate for the schools chief job, said the same. He said he had been asked the question several times already and each time declined to answer.

Hill and Lain campaign together, but Lain said she goes off and campaigns on her own, too. In addition to receiving advice from Hill, Lain said her daughter-in-law, Dallas Lain, is managing her campaign.

Lain and Hill were among about a dozen Wyoming Department of Education employees to testify before an investigative committee in January.

Hill was questioned extensively regarding her unconventional leadership tactics, use of federal funds and several teacher training programs the Legislature had tried to prohibit.

Lain testified about hiring her daughter, Shan Anderson, to work at the WDE in 2011. She said she did not know she had violated state nepotism laws when she requested that competitive bidding be waived on the position, then signed her daughter's contract without disclosing the family ties.

Lain also developed the reading program that became controversial for directing a massive number of state resources into a single school on the Wind River Indian Reservation in 2011.

A state law removed Hill from her position as top official at the education agency in 2013. Lain, along with several others on Hill's leadership team, moved into the newly created Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction

The office was tasked with mostly ceremonial duties like administering the teacher of the year award and handing state concussion policies.

Hill and Lain returned to the Department of Education after a split Wyoming Supreme Court ruled the law mostly unconstitutional earlier this year.

Hill did not return the Star-Tribune's request for comment.

There is no agreement that Lain would hire Hill to work for her at the Wyoming Department of Education if she won the superintendent’s race and Hill lost the governor’s race, Lain said.

“That has absolutely not come up at all,” Lain said. “We’re just simply doing this campaign and meeting all the wonderful people in the state.”

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