By Leo Wolfson, political reporter
The Wyoming Republican Party has requested Secretary of State Ed Buchanan continue in his role through the end of the general election in November
This request was made Thursday in a letter sent to Buchanan from Frank Eathorne, chairman of the state GOP. Also signing the letter was Wyoming GOP National Committeewoman Nina Webber and Wyoming GOP National Committeeman Corey Steinmetz.
“In our view, elections are one of the most important functions performed by the Wyoming Secretary of State,” the party wrote. “Most incoming secretaries of state have almost two years to prepare for their first general election. However, if you resign in mid-September when there is an election six weeks later, it may be setting your appointed successor up to fail.”
Buchanan told Cowboy State Daily that he appreciated the confidence the Republican Party had in him but there’s no need to worry about the general election without him present.
“I am flattered to have the Party request me to stay on through the general election,” Buchanan said in an email Tuesday afternoon. “However, it is Wyoming’s 23 county clerks and the Secretary of State staff that do the heavy lifting for elections. Upon my departure, it will be business as usual in the Secretary of State’s Office throughout the general election and through the end of the year.”
Buchanan’s staff has announced his last day will be on Sept. 15, nearly two months before the Nov. 8 general election. He has accepted a judgeship in Goshen County, a job he was appointed to by Gov. Mark Gordon.
“That is often the case with filling any position- the best candidates have a job they must wrap up before they can move to a new position,” the party wrote. “Gov. Gordon knew this when he selected you and the courts will manage if you need to remain in your current role until general election canvassing is complete.”
Wyoming law requires that the party of the departing or departed Secretary of State select three candidates who could fill the vacant position. The governor is required to appoint one of these three candidates to do the job until the next election. Narrowing down the finalists must take place within 15 days of the office holder’s official resignation. As of last Friday, Buchanan, a Republican, had still not given an official resignation.
After the Republican Party delivers Gordon its chosen finalists, the governor has five days to make a final choice.
The party questioned its ability to find a qualified replacement who could fulfill this job.
“Any successor appointed would not take office until four weeks before election day and does not know your team members and has never worked with any of them,” the party said. “It is difficult to imagine who would want to assume the role on such short notice.”
State Rep. Chuck Gray, R-Casper, won the Republican primary for Secretary of State and is expected to be the next person in this role. He is facing no Democratic opponent in the general election.
When Gray takes office in January, he will have two years to work with the Secretary of State’s office staff before his first election in August 2024. Shortly after Gray’s election win, at least two high ranking officials in the office indicated they are leaving their jobs.
The Wyoming Constitution forbids an elected official from being appointed to a seat in the state’s executive branch before the current term they were elected for expires, disqualifying Gray from being appointed because his state representative term does not end until the beginning of 2023.
The letter requests Buchanan to stay in office until the general election process is complete, which, if that includes all certifying and canvassing efforts, will likely last through the end of November.
Buchanan did not immediately respond to comment.
Wyoming GOP Vice Chair David Holland, party executive director Kathy Russell, party attorney Brian Shuck, and party secretary Donna Rice were also sent the letter.