By Leo Wolfson, political reporter
A Mountain View man, who sued the Uinta County Republican Party because he said its leadership elections were improper, is requesting the Wyoming Supreme Court to reconsider his lawsuit.
In July, District Court Judge Joseph Bluemel dismissed Jon Conrad’s lawsuit against the Uinta County GOP and its leadership, deciding the county party’s rules allow its leadership to decide who can vote for future county party leaders.
In his decision, Bluemel said state law was purposely written in an unambiguous manner to avoid overregulating political associations. His decision asserted that political party bylaws can supersede state laws.
Conrad argued that certain party officers should not have been allowed to vote in the county party’s 2021 leadership election because those party officials lost their respective precinct committee elections in August 2020. This election resulted in Elisabeth “Biffy” Jackson winning the county chairman seat, Karl Allred becoming state committeeman, and Jana Williams being named state committeewoman.
“While the Court has now resolved the matter in the Party’s favor, the case has uncovered a concerning trend of certain individuals seeking to divide the Republican Party,” Jackson said in a Facebook post after the original decision was made.
State Rep. Bob Wharff, R-Evanston, said the county party spent $22,000 defending itself in the trial.
Conrad, a Uinta County Republican Party committee member, ran for the county chairman’s position in the 2021 election, but lost to Jackson.
Ten days after Conrad won his Republican primary for a State House race, he filed an intent to appeal with the Supreme Court. No arguments have been submitted yet in this case.
Conrad “respectfully declined” to comment to Cowboy State Daily on his reasoning for appealing the decision or the timing of this filing.
He will face Democrat Sarah Butters in the general election.
The original lawsuit asked the court to declare the county party’s 2021 elections null and void, to order new elections to select officers and to rule that Williams, Jackson and Allred take no action in the positions “they now improperly purport to hold.”
The plaintiffs, which also included State Sen. Wendy Schuler, R-Evanston, Rep. Danny Eyre, R-Lyman, former Rep. Ron Micheli and county central committee members Clarence Vranish, Clara Jean Vranish and Troy Nolan unsuccessfully argued that the Uinta County Republican Party is governed exclusively by the state election code.
Under state law, precinct committeemen and women are elected in public primary elections, but party leadership is elected through internal party elections.
The precinct committeeman and committeewoman, along with the county party chair represent the county at meetings of the state party central committee and committee meetings during the state convention.
Although state and county Republican party bylaws specify elected county party officers can vote in elections along with precinct committeemen and women, state law says that voting can only be done by the county central committee, which consists, but the defendants argued is not limited to, the elected precinct committee members.
The Uinta county party’s bylaws specifically allow elected officers who are not county committee members to vote at State Central Committee meetings. The state party also allows this.
In this year’s race for Wyoming House District 19, Conrad won the primary by 326 votes over the second place finisher, Allred.