In a reversal of his earlier comments, Wyoming Secretary of State Ed Buchanan announced Tuesday morning he will not run for re-election this fall, choosing instead to apply for a position as a state district court judge.
“It has been an honor and privilege to serve the citizens of Wyoming as your Secretary of State” Buchanan said in a news release. “Recently, the opportunity presented itself to apply for a judicial position in my hometown of Torrington, Wyo. While I have been so grateful for the time I have spent as the Secretary of State, it would not be appropriate for me to explore a judicial opportunity while also running for this important office.”
Buchanan had announced in mid-April he would seek his second full term in the office he was appointed to by Gov. Mark Gordon in March 2018.
But in Tuesday’s announcement, Buchanan said he will begin the application process to fill the vacancy in the judge’s position in the Eighth Judicial District in Torrington to be created with the retirement of Judge Patrick Korell.
Buchanan said he will continue to fulfill his duties as secretary of state while applying for the judge’s position.
Buchanan applied to be a judge in Goshen County in May 2019 — a little more than six months after he was elected to his first full term as secretary of state — when he sought to be appointed to an opening in circuit court. Although he was selected as one of the final three candidates for the position, Gov. Mark Gordon did not choose Buchanan, citing a need to bring stability to the secretary of state role.
Monique Meese, a communications and policy director with the Secretary of State’s office, said Korell will finish his duties Aug. 2, leaving a possible gap in judges if Buchanan is selected for the job before his term ends.
Meese said “for now,” Buchanan has committed to serving out the rest of his term, which does not expire until the end of year.
District court judges are appointed by the governor in Wyoming. Following an application period, the Wyoming Judicial Nominating Commission submits the names of three finalists for the governor to choose from.
No candidates have filed to run for the secretary of state’s office. The filing period ends on May 27.
Wyoming’s Secretary of State serves as the state’s chief elections officer, securities commissioner, corporations administrator and notaries public commissioner. Buchanan also chairs the State Canvassing Board and serves on the State Loan and Investment Board, the Board of Land Commissioners and the State Building Commission.
After graduating from the University of Wyoming, Buchanan served in the U.S. Air Force as an intelligence briefer. While serving, he received a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Colorado.
After the Air Force, Buchanan studied law at UW and then grew a successful law practice in Torrington. He was elected to the State House of Representatives in 2002, where he served for 10 years as chairman of Judiciary Committee, majority floor leader and speaker of the House.
Buchanan was appointed to the office of secretary of state in March 2018, filling the vacancy created with the resignation of Ed Murray, who faced two separate allegations of prior sexual misconduct. Buchanan was selected to finish out Murray’s term, which expired at the end of 2018, and successfully ran for election to his first full term in the office in November 2018, beating Democrat James Byrd by a 68% to 26% vote.
In his press release, Buchanan touted increasing revenues and the securing of election equipment as some of his major achievements while in the secretary of state’s office. He said he was also proud to have modernized notary and security laws and of keeping his office open during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Buchanan’s tenure was not free of tension, as many questioned the security of Wyoming’s election equipment following the 2020 election. His department was also successfully sued by Wyoming Gun Owners over a $500 fine the State had levied against the firearms advocacy group for alleged violations of the state’s electioneering laws pertaining to failing to disclose donors. The secretary of state’s office filed an appeal in Federal court early this month.
“I am thankful to the people of Wyoming who gave me this amazing opportunity and to the incredible staff at the Secretary of State’s Office who worked diligently to reach the goals we set,” he said. “Stepping away from this role has been one of the most difficult decisions of my career.”