CHEYENNE - Republican Cynthia Lummis, a former state treasurer and longtime legislator, beat Democrat Gary Trauner on Tuesday to win Wyoming's seat in the U.S. House.
With 98 percent of precincts reporting, Lummis led 52 percent to Trauner's 43 percent. Libertarian W. David Herbert had 5 percent of the vote.
Lummis will replace Republican Rep. Barbara Cubin, who decided not to seek re-election this year after being elected to seven terms in the U.S. House.
Lummis was 24 when she became the youngest woman elected to the state Legislature in 1978. She went on to serve 14 years in the state Senate and House and later two terms as state treasurer.
It was the second defeat for Trauner, a businessman from Jackson Hole who lost to Cubin by half a percentage point in 2006.
This year's outcome gave Lummis a much wider victory than a mid-October poll predicted. The poll showed Lummis, 54, and Trauner, 49, virtually tied.
National Democrats had viewed the race as an opportunity to gain a seat in Congress, spending tens of thousands of dollars to help Trauner. In just the final week, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spent $265,000 on advertising.
Lummis also received outside help. The Republicans' House committee poured more than $350,000 into the race, and Vice President Dick Cheney campaigned with Lummis and U.S. Sens. Mike Enzi and John Barrasso at a rally last weekend in Laramie.
On the campaign trail, Lummis called for smaller government and low taxes and Trauner pledged to help restore bipartisanship in Congress.
Lummis' conservative message resonated with voters in a state where Republicans outnumber Democrats 2-to-1.
"I believe she does represent the values that are most important to America and to humanity in general, how important human life is in particular," said Chandra Hageman, 30, a retail store employee from Cheyenne.
"I think she has better ideas," said locksmith Eric Hauff, 34, of Cheyenne. "I like the way she's in-state, born and raised."
Door-to-door campaigning persuaded at least a few Cheyenne residents to vote for Trauner. Iron worker Chris Aldrich, 35, said he met Trauner while the candidate was in his neighborhood.
"He sat down and answered every question I had," Aldrich said. "And even if I didn't like his answers, he just answered them the way he would anyway. So that means more to me than a guy that's willing to tell you what you want to hear."
Day-care worker Jenn Henderson, 19, also voted for Trauner after meeting him at her home.
"We sat and talked with him for 30 minutes," she said. "He just seemed like a really great guy, really down to earth. Nobody else came to my door to talk to me."
The financial crisis became the top issue in the race starting in late September.
Trauner voiced reservations about the $700 billion federal bailout that passed Congress but said he would have voted for it because the risks of doing otherwise were too great. Lummis said she wouldn't have voted for the bill because it contained too much pork-barrel spending.