One Of First Questions Of GOP Convention — Can Laramie County Participate?

The question of whether Republican delegates from the states biggest county will be allowed to take part in the Wyoming Republican Partys convention later this week will be among the first issues settled by the party.

Leo Wolfson

May 04, 20225 min read

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The question of whether Republican delegates from the state’s biggest county will be allowed to take part in the Wyoming Republican Party’s convention later this week will be among the first issues settled by the party.

The party’s 23-member Credentials Committee, during its meeting Thursday, will be asked to determine whether to punish Laramie County for alleged rule violations by refusing to seat 34 of the county’s 37 delegates at the convention in Sheridan.

The Credentials Committee is in charge of approving every delegate sent to the state convention from around the state. 

Typically, the process is fairly straightforward, said Committee Chair Scott Clem, but it hasn’t come without its fair share of drama over the years. 

For example, during the 2020 convention that was already complicated by COVID-19 restrictions, Clem said a proposal was made not to seat Natrona County’s delegates because of that county party’s failure to pay dues. 

Although all of Natrona County’s delegates did end up getting seated that year, the county will only have six delegates seated at this year’s convention as a result of litigation filed over the dues dispute.

Laramie County Issues

This year, the Laramie County party has been accused of committing several rule violations during its own county convention in March, including failing to vote for delegates and alternates on a secret ballot and failing to take nominations for delegates from the floor. 

The state GOP executive committee has asked the Credentials Committee to determine whether all 37 of the county’s delegates will be seated or whether the state’s largest county will have only three delegates at the convention.

Meanwhile, Gail Symons of Sheridan County has filed her own complaint with the party, noting that several other county parties were guilty of similar infractions to those alleged by Laramie County, but they have not been punished with a proposed cut in their delegate numbers.

Neither Clem or committee co-chair John Bear plan to cast votes themselves on the delegate issues but will deliver the Credentials Committee’s recommendation to all of the other delegates at the convention when it officially begins on Saturday.

Bear said if Laramie County fails to follow bylaws in the future, it could create problems down the road when the state party sends delegates to the Republican National Convention in 2024. 

More Serious

He said while he does agree with Laramie County GOP Chairwoman Dani Olsen that every county party should be expected to follow their respective bylaws, he also said he views Laramie County’s infractions are more serious than the ones brought up by Symons.

The alleged rule violations raised by Symons included failure to publish notice of a county convention and failure to use secret ballots to cast votes for delegates. She said when submitting the complaint she did not believe any of the counties acted intentionally.

Bear said due to the way Laramie County performed its delegate nomination process, delegates were not nominated equally from the party as a whole.

“Ultimately, the power to make decisions belongs to people,” Bear said. “That’s what the bylaws allow for and that’s what I believe should have happened in Laramie. You can’t take that away from the people.”

Bear said the other complaints, mostly pertaining to notification complaints, are still critical issues. He said when the Campbell County GOP made a mistake with its notices, it chose to reschedule its convention, something that also occurred in Park County this year.

“You’ve got to do the right thing and follow the rules,” said Park County Republican Party Chairman Martin Kimmet.

Civil and Smoothly

Clem hopes Thursday’s committee meeting will remain civil and run smoothly. 

Any issue brought before the committee must be presented to the committee’s members through a motion that must be made by a committee member. If no motion is made no action will be taken.

Some of the committee’s members have already spoken out about Laramie County’s alleged violations.

The Laramie County allegations were brought straight to the state Party’s Executive Committee rather than to the local party. The executive committee then passed the issue off to the Credentials Committee.

“If something happened in Laramie County it should be fixed locally at that level,” Clem said. “If there are any wrongs to be weighed it should be addressed first and foremost at that county. If people don’t like the leadership, the grassroots need to elect new leadership.”

If the Credentials Committee decides to not take action on the matter, Clem said Laramie could still be censured by the Resolutions Committee, but this would only be in the form of a formal reprimand.

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Leo Wolfson

Politics and Government Reporter