Several statewide offices contested in Wyoming GOP primary

0
44
Several statewide offices contested in Wyoming GOP primary

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) – Gov. Mark Gordon has a clear path to re-election as more competitive Republican primary races took shape for secretary of state and state superintendent of public instruction in Wyoming on Tuesday.

Democrats, meanwhile, have all but ceded these offices to Republicans, with just two candidates who don’t even have websites running for governor and just one Democratic candidate running for state superintendent.

Here’s a look at the races for Wyoming’s five statewide elected officials:

GOVERNOR

Gordon has faced fierce opposition within the GOP to public health measures to limit the spread of the coronavirus, prompting speculation that he faces a tough primary challenge.

He doesn’t. One candidate who might have run against him, Cheyenne natural resources attorney Harriet Hageman, who finished third among five candidates in the 2018 GOP gubernatorial primary, decided to opt out instead of Liz Cheney as Wyoming’s congresswoman.

Now, after lifting a statewide mask mandate and other coronavirus restrictions, Gordon is largely back in his party’s good graces.

Last year, he urged the National Rifle Association to move its headquarters from Virginia to Wyoming. In March, he signed a ban on most abortions that briefly went into effect a month after the US Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade overturned and is now on hold pending a lawsuit challenging the ban. Both moves helped shore up Gordon’s right-wing credentials.

And while Gordon didn’t go out of his way to praise Donald Trump, he also didn’t criticize the former president’s fixation on the false belief that fraud cost him re-election in 2020, which, as Cheney discovered, might be a had serious primary challenge.

Still, three Republicans stepped up to oppose Gordon.

One is Brent Bien, a retired U.S. Marine Corps colonel, Laramie native and University of Wyoming graduate who oversaw Marine operations in Guam. Bien, of Sheridan, campaigned in part to question Gordon’s coronavirus restrictions.

Also running is Rex Rammell, of Rock Springs, a veterinarian and perennial, unsuccessful candidate for various offices in Idaho and Wyoming. Rammell calls for the state to take control of federal lands.

Douglas oilfield services business owner and Marine veteran James Scott Quick is trying to protect the state’s energy industry and give raises to state employees.

Retired U.S. Bureau of Land Management employee Theresa Livingston, of Worland, and retired cabinetmaker and perennial candidate Rex Wilde, of Cheyenne, are seeking the Democratic nomination for governor.

SECRETARY OF STATE

Wyoming Secretary of State Ed Buchanan announced in May that he would not seek re-election so he could apply to become a state district court judge, a position he will take in the coming months now that Gordon has appointed to the vacancy.

Buchanan’s announcement caused several Republicans to run just days before the filing deadline. Among them are two legislators: Chuck Gray and Tara Nethercott.

Gray, a former political radio commentator who is the son of a Casper radio station owner, has proven to be one of Wyoming’s most Trump-like lawmakers since his election to the state House in 2016.

Gray briefly ran for US House in 2021 and spoke out against Cheney after she voted to impeach the former president for the uprising on January 6, 2021. He visited Arizona to see and be seen at a recount of the presidential vote in 2020 in that state.

Gray abandoned his congressional campaign after failing to win Trump’s endorsement, but he now serves as secretary of state, serving as Wyoming’s no. 2 civil servant oversees elections and business licenses.

Nethercott is a Cheyenne attorney who has served in the state Senate since 2017 and, like Gray, has made “election integrity” a campaign focus. Nethercott also promises to keep the state’s business administration fees low.

STATE SUPERINTENDENT

Brian Schroeder, former principal of a private Christian school in Cody, became state superintendent in January when Gordon chose him from among three finalists nominated for the job by the state GOP.

He succeeded Jillian Balow, who left Wyoming to lead Virginia’s public school system.

Schroeder is now running for office under the slogan “Wyoming Education – Not Indoctrination.” He promises to “refuse our children to become pawns of the social engineers who are determined to groom them into their relativistic value system.”

His opponents include Megan Degenfelder, a Republican from Laramie who was chief policy officer under Balow. Degenfelder calls for doing “more with less” amid a tight state budget and prioritizing funding for classrooms over administration.

Republican Jennifer Zerba, a Casper substitute teacher and University of Wyoming doctoral student in education, is also in the running, advocating more fiscal transparency and volunteerism in schools.

Educator and Northern Arapaho tribal elder Sergio Maldonado is the only Democrat running for state superintendent.

STATE TREASURER

Incumbent Republican Curt Meier faces a primary challenge from Bill Gallop, of Cheyenne, an investment officer for the Wyoming Retirement System.

Gallop criticized Wyoming’s state investments under Meier for lagging U.S. stock market returns, calling it a “broken engine with seven of eight cylinders broken” on its website.

Meier, who is endorsed by Trump for a second term, is a former state lawmaker with a farm and ranch in the LaGrange area. Meier says the state treasurer’s office beat his investment benchmarks in his first term and he helped expand access to low-income housing.

STATE AUDITOR

Republican Auditor Kristi Racines, of Cheyenne, is unopposed for a second term.

___

Anderson reports from Denver.

___

Follow Mead Gruver https://twitter.com/meadgruver

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here