Two GOP Candidates Confirm In Running For Interim Secretary Of State

Mark Armstrong and Bob Ferguson have confirmed to Cowboy State Daily they are running for the interim Secretary of State appointment.

Leo Wolfson

September 22, 20224 min read

Collage Maker 22 Sep 2022 05 32 PM
(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

By Leo Wolfson, State Political Reporter

Two candidates have confirmed they’ve thrown their names in the ring to be considered for the interim Secretary of State position. 

One of them, Mark Armstrong, already ran for the office during the recent Republican primary. During his campaign, he also threatened to sue the Secretary of State’s Office.

“As far as I can tell, I think I’m extremely well qualified for it,” Armstrong told Cowboy State Daily on Thursday afternoon. 

Also running for Secretary of State is Bob Ferguson, Wyoming GOP treasurer and Park County Republican Party vice chair.

Armstrong, an Albany County Republican Party committeeman, finished a distant third in the Republican primary behind winner State Rep. Chuck Gray, R-Casper, and second place finisher Sen. Tara Nethercott, R-Cheyenne, but still got 14,304 votes.

During his campaign, Armstrong said he planned to file a lawsuit against the state and key officials in the Secretary of State’s Office, alleging violations of his First and 14th Amendment rights, as well as various state laws. He said the department unlawfully changed public access to absentee ballot status reports, leaving it up to individual counties how often to publish those reports.

Armstrong argued this hurt his ability to identify and connect with absentee voters as a lesser-known candidate in the race. He said that if appointed, he would immediately change the policy.

Armstrong also made complaints about Albany County Clerk Jackie Gonzales for refusing to allow him and about 25 other applicants to inspect envelopes containing returned absentee ballots in 2020. He said he’s also faced resistance to receiving a scan of about 47 invalid votes cast in that county’s district attorney race this year.

“I believe I can do a good amount of work to figure out what happened in Albany County,” Armstrong said. “I’m the right person to put in.

Armstrong said he has been trying to work through the political process without having to sue the state and finds this position to be his best opening to receive the answers he’s been looking for.

“If we wait until January we might never get an answer on those hard questions,” he said.

Fans Of Gray

Aside from these matters, Armstrong ran on a platform similar to Gray’s with only small nuances of difference. Armstrong called Gray an “insider” during the campaign but now is fully behind him.

“I believe somebody has to do some of the bidding Chuck would be doing,” Armstrong said. “We have extremely similar views.”

Armstrong and Gray have both questioned the security of Wyoming elections and said changes need to be made to make them more secure. He said if appointed, he would “get the bulk of the work started” for Gray and immediately ban ballot drop boxes upon taking office. This was a hallmark promise Gray made during his campaign.

Gray has no official opponent in the general election and is largely expected to be the next secretary of state. He is ineligible to be named interim secretary of state as state laws preclude elected officials from being appointed to a different position until the terms they were elected for expire.

Appointing Armstrong would provide an opportunity for drop boxes to be banned for this November’s general election. If another candidate is chosen who opts to leave the decision up to Gray, the ban wouldn’t take effect until the August 2024 primary.

‘Somebody in Charge’

“I think it’s important to have somebody in office in charge of things during the interim period,” Ferguson said.

Ferguson declined to offer any other comment about his candidacy or what action he would take on drop boxes until this weekend at the Wyoming Republican Party’s selection meeting.

Ferguson has shared a number of posts on his Twitter account from Dinesh D’Souza, who claimed the 2020 presidential election was rigged in his “2000 Mules” movie. Gray’s showing of the movie during his campaign was criticized by former Secretary of State Ed Buchanan and Nethercott. 

The Wyoming Republican Party will meet at 1 p.m. Saturday in Pavillion and select three finalists for the interim secretary of state appointment. Gov. Mark Gordon will then have five days to select one.

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Leo Wolfson

Politics and Government Reporter