Although retired Army colonel Denton Knapp admits he’s not a frontrunner candidate in the Republican race for U.S. Congress, he’s not letting a new job be an excuse to drop out of the race.
Earlier this week, Knapp started working as an administrative director for the Campbell County commissioners. Knapp has been campaigning for more than a year to unseat U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney, after announcing his intentions to run in May 2021.
After receiving an endorsement from former President Donald Trump last fall, former gubernatorial candidate Harriet Hageman quickly became the lead challenger to Cheney as far as public recognition and financial contributions.
Knapp has raised $26,235 for his campaign so far and spent $20,243. Cheney has raised around $10 million and Hageman has raised more than $2 million. If financial contributions are a marker of how candidates in the U.S. House primary race will finish, Knapp would finish fourth behind Cheney, Hageman and Anthony Bouchard. Challenger Robyn Belinskey has not released any financial statements to the Federal Election Commission.
Knapp said he will juggle his new full time job with campaigning by spending a few hours each night after work and weekends attempting to reach voters. He recently visited 60 homes in Casper getting the word out about his campaign.
He said requests made by the Trump team, the State GOP party and some potential constituents to drop out of the race have not dissuaded him. Knapp believes staying in the race is the right thing to do.
Knapp, Gillette native, said many Hageman supporters have urged him to quit because they fear a higher number of candidates will create a split among voters and allow Cheney to win. He said a Cheney victory would be an affront to the Wyoming way of life.
“The fact is, people in New Jersey selected our candidate for us and expect us to support it,” he said.
No matter what place he finishes, Knapp said he will judge his campaign as a success by sticking it out to the end.
“Just going the distance,” he said.
Knapp is looking forward to a June 30 PBS debate he will participate in with all the Republican U.S. House candidates. He believes the debate will allow him to separate himself from the pack with his Wyoming-focused platform.
“The current policies are not effective,” he said. “We have the potential to make change immediately.”
Knapp said he chose to run for Congress rather than a state or county level position because of the desire to make more of an immediate state-level impact.
If he does win, Knapp said he will quit the administrative director job. He said the Campbell County commissioners were made aware of the possible conflict this could create down the road.
In his new role with the county, Knapp is the public liaison for the board. He will manage the order of each meeting and who speaks before the board. He said the job has been vacant for several months. The job opening was posted in April.
Knapp has lived in 13 states during his life and most recently California, but is a Wyoming native. He moved back to the state in 2021 to pursue his campaign.
“This is home,” he said.
Knapp won an appointment to West Point, which began his 30-year career in the U.S. Army. He was nominated for the school by former U.S. Rep. Dick Cheney, along with Cheney’s colleagues U.S. Sens. Al Simpson and Malcom Wallop. Unemployed since last August after serving in the California State Guard and as director of veteran services for Goodwill Industries of Orange County, the retired military colonel said his new job is a perfect fit.
“I wanted to serve, I thought it was a great opportunity to do that,” he said. “I’ve been doing service all my life.”