Laramie County GOP chairwoman Dani Olsen

Wyo GOP Hostilities Continue; Now Laramie County Members Demand Chairwoman Resign

in News/politics

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By Leo Wolfson, Cowboy State Daily

Hostilities continued to simmer in the Laramie County Republican Party on Tuesday as competing factions submitted their own resolutions calling for members of the other faction’s leadership to resign.

One resolution, delivered by precinct member Ben Hornok, calls on Laramie County GOP Chairman Dani Olsen to resign. Olsen has been chairman of the party since 2019.

“It’s just been her overall behavior,” said Laramie County GOP convention delegate Freddy Flores-Salieb. “It’s just the whole power grab and choosing the exclusion of people.”

At the same time, Mike Heath, a member of the county party’s executive committee, wrote the other resolution, strongly urging precinct committee members Hornok, Susan Graham, Fred Schlachter, Steve Johnson, Christine Johnson and “others not named but who support their actions to resign from their elected positions as precinct committeemen and precinct committewomen effective immediately” and refrain from all party involvement in the future.

“There has been a longtime, successive attempt to undermine the party,” Heath said.

The resolutions were both submitted amid allegations that each faction was trying to split the party. They followed a dispute during the Wyoming Republican Party’s convention over the weekend that saw 34 of Laramie County’s possible 37 delegates turned away from participating in the convention as punishment for violations of party bylaws.

Hornok’s resolution called for Olsen to resign because she was responsible for the violations that took place at the county party’s convention on March 5. 

These violations, including failing to rank alternates and call for nominations from the floor, were addressed by the state party at its convention in Sheridan on Saturday with an overwhelming majority voting to only allow three of Laramie County’s possible 37 delegates to be seated for the convention.

“That’s a big deal,” Flores-Salieb said.

Flores-Salieb said Olsen should resign not only because of Laramie County losing its delegates, but also because she made “a big show” at the convention of turning in her credentials and then failing to return to the convention hall as a spectator, as many other county party members did.

Olsen said she has no plans to resign and feels confident the majority of the party will support her. At the convention on Saturday, Olsen took some responsibility for the mistakes made at the county convention.

“This is just a continuation of divisions already brought forward,” she said.

Olsen said the push to oust her is coming from Hornok, who was the first to report the county party’s violations to the state Republican Party’s executive committee.

Hornok later advocated for seating all of Laramie County’s delegates at the state convention. 

Hornok did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Heath, meanwhile, said Hornok and his supporters are “Democrat infiltrators” attempting to pull the party apart, an accusation he also directed at state party leadership. 

Olsen said she doesn’t agree with Heath’s theory, but does agree with Heath that her detractors are using the same tactics used by Democrats in Colorado to divide Republicans and take over political leadership in the state. The theory is detailed in a book called “The Blueprint.”

“They are taking the steps that already happened in Colorado,” Olsen said.

Olsen said although Heath was not “unwarranted” in drafting his resolution, she added it should be up to the voters to decide whether they want to reelect these committee members or elect someone new.

Olsen, Heath and Flores-Salieb all agree cracks within the party started forming long before the county convention in March. 

Flores-Salieb criticized the way Olsen has conducted herself as chair, saying she performed a “near assault” on Hornok when she took a microphone away from him.

Since joining the party in 1991, Heath said there has always been a group of people within the Laramie GOP attempting to divide the party, but said this contingency has “gained more power and become more vocal” over the last few years. He said their growing influence started becoming noticeable during the 2012 Wyoming governor’s election, when he said winner Matt Mead received a significant amount of crossover votes from Democrats.

Olsen said another resolution asking just Hornok to resign was crafted while the state convention was actively taking place, but it has since been rescinded. 

These resolutions will be discussed at the Laramie County GOP meeting next Tuesday, May 17, at 6 p.m. at The Metropolitan Downtown restaurant in Cheyenne. Olsen said she will recuse herself from serving as chair on both resolutions and will abstain from voting on them as well.

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