State GOP Votes Not To Recognize Independents; Independent Candidate Says That’s OK

The Wyoming Republican Party in Riverton on Saturday voted against supporting Independent candidates, regardless of their ideology; Independent State House candidate Jeff Martin, who was at the meeting, said he supports the resolution.

Clair McFarland

September 17, 20225 min read

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(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

By Clair McFarland, Cowboy State Daily 

RIVERTON – The Wyoming Republican Party will not recognize or support Independent candidates in the general election, whether they identify as Republicans or not.  

Meeting in Riverton on Saturday, the party’s central committee approved a motion against endorsing or funding Independent general-election candidates, regardless of the candidates’ ideology.   

Several conservative candidates in Wyoming are running in the upcoming general election against Republican nominees, due to policy differences in the party.  

“They (the Independents) still want to retain their membership in the Republican party,” said Karl Allred, Uinta County GOP state committeeman, during the meeting. “But I just have this feeling that if you’re going to run as an Independent, that means you’re Independent of the party – get the hell out of the party.”   

Four tables away sat Jeff Martin, a Republican running as an Independent candidate for Wyoming House District 54, in Lander.  

Martin, who is challenging Rep. Lloyd Larsen, R-Lander, for the House seat, told Cowboy State Daily that he approved of the resolution.   

Martin said although he won’t receive party support this election season, he believes himself to be more of a Republican, ideologically, than Larsen his opponent.   

“This is a situation where we have a Republican House member voting 30% for his party and 70% for Democratic or liberal views,” he said. “These Republicans that are coming in and taking over the party – they’re not true Republicans.”   

Larsen told Cowboy State Daily in an email that he has been far more involved with Republican issues than Martin has.   

“Mr. Martin has the right to run for political office representing whichever party he chooses,” said Larsen, “but (he) has failed to attend or participate in any previous Republican sponsored event in the 10 years I have been in the Legislature, where we discuss party issues at hand.”  

Larsen said Martin has not contacted him to voice concerns as a constituent.   

“He could have run against me as a Republican in the primary (election) but chose not to,” said Larsen. “Now while running as an Independent, his suggestion I am not a real Republican just doesn’t hold much credibility from my perspective.”   

Larsen said that during his membership on the House Appropriations Committee, the Legislature has prepared and passed budgets “that have resulted in a reduction of the size of government, and (a) budget smaller than we had in 2010, with inflation included in the calculation, while protecting services to vulnerable populations.”   

Larsen called the achievement “deeply embedded” in Republican values.    

‘People I Like Very Well’  

Martin told Cowboy State Daily on Saturday that he was not at the party meeting in the hopes of receiving funding or seeing funding denied to Larsen.   

He said he was at the meeting, rather, “to get to know better people that I like very well, and to get a feel for how the system works.”   

He thinks of himself as a newcomer with a need to learn and observe.   

“I’m excited to possibly push out one of these people that say they’re Republican when they’re not,” Martin added.   

Martin said his top legislative priority is property tax reform, since an influx of well-funded people moving to the state in recent years coupled with a nationwide housing market value increase have driven Wyoming property taxes up. 

Larsen said property tax reform is a priority for the whole Legislature right now, but it should be done with care, as property taxes covered the $150 million deficit in school funding that had at first to be supplemented with funding from the state’s savings account.   

Wyoming is constitutionally obligated to fund its schools to equal standards regardless of region, which often drives school costs up.   

Medicaid Expansion  

Martin is pro-life, pro-Second Amendment, and against Medicaid expansion, he said.   

Larsen is also pro-life and pro-Second Amendment. He voted to enact the trigger ban, now paused in court, which would have outlawed most abortions in Wyoming following the U.S. Supreme Court overturn of Roe vs. Wade. He has an ‘A’ rating from the National Rifle Association.   

But the two men differ on Medicaid expansion.   

Martin, in between events at the State GOP meeting, said he would comment on his reasoning against Medicaid expansion at a later time.   

Larsen in an email said he at first voted against Medicaid Expansion. But he changed his mind as the legal landscape changed. U.S. Supreme Court actions declared the Affordable Care Act constitutional and ruled that states could not mandate it. This generated a hole in states like Wyoming, which haven’t expanded Medicaid. In that gap, he said, are people who can’t afford health insurance, can’t qualify for assistance through the insurance exchange and are not eligible for Medicaid.

“Women make up the majority of this group,” said Larsen. “They are left to go without health care or go to the emergency room and leave the hospital to absorb the cost – which then is passed onto the rest of (the hospital) patients with higher costs.”   

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Clair McFarland

Crime and Courts Reporter