Here Are The 11 Candidates For The Interim Wyoming Secretary Of State Position

in News/politics

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By Leo Wolfson, State Political Reporter
Leo@Cowboystatedaily.com

Eleven people have applied to be interim Secretary of State of Wyoming. Some of the candidates have extensive experience working in elections, while others have been deeply involved in state GOP politics for a number of years. Four are candidates who lost in the August primary election.

The Wyoming Republican Party will choose three finalists for the job at its meeting in Pavillion on Saturday. Gov. Mark Gordon will then have five days to select a final candidate.

The candidate selection process will begin at 1 p.m. at the Wind River Recreation Center.

Cowboy State Daily obtained a list of the candidates Friday afternoon. They are:

Marti Halverson

Halverson is a former state legislator who has been involved in party politics for many years. She is president of Right To Life of Wyoming and chairs the Lincoln County Republican Party. She’s also a former national committeewoman for the Wyoming Republican Party.

Halverson spearheaded a recent campaign through her Election Integrity & Security Committee to audit elections from several precincts in Laramie and Fremont counties. She was chosen as a finalist for Superintendent of Public Instruction in January, but not selected by Gov. Mark Gordon.

Halverson said uniformity is solely lacking in Wyoming’s elections.

“One of my goals in this short time is to try to inject some uniformity in the conduct of our statewide elections,” Halverson wrote in her application. “At the very least, I am determined to eliminate the application and operation inconsistencies among the 23 counties.”

She also said if chosen, she’ll inspect the Secretary of State’s office’ relationship with the federal government.

Mary Lankford

Lankford is a former Sublette County clerk who served in that role for 32 years. Since retiring from that job, she has been a consultant for the County Clerks Association of Wyoming. She also was on the Request For Proposal Committee with clerks and the Secretary of State Election staff for the selection of new election equipment, which was bought for the 2020 election year.

These roles gave her experience working on the Voter ID bil and legislation pertaining to runoff elections, crossover voting, ballot order and transportation issues.

In her application packet, Lankford stressed the relationship she holds with the state’s county clerks and other county officials.

“I am able to provide a seamless transition with the elections staff for this short-term appointment and help facilitate a general election that the voters of Wyoming expect and deserve,” Lankford said. “My current consulting activities have only enhanced our successful working relationship.”

Karl Allred

Allred is a state committeeman for the Uinta County Republican Party. He ran unsuccessfully for State House 19 in this year’s primary elections. He’s now a foreman at a local gas plant, but worked for an electronic bingo company as a director of product development.

Allred described himself as “familiar” with the duties of the Secretary of State job.

“I am fully confident I can carry out the job until Jan. when the elected Secretary of State will take office,” Allred wrote in his application. “I have no plans to try to run for this office and am only interested in maintaining the office and make a smooth transition for the elected Secretary.”

Allred’s position as committeeman has been challenged in a lawsuit, accusing him and other Uinta County GOP leaders of being unlawfully elected during the party’s 2021 leadership election.

Bob Ferguson

Ferguson is treasurer for the State GOP and a committeeman for the Park County Republican Party. He is an investment advisor in his private profession and a former fundraiser for the National Rifle Association.

Ferguson said if elected interim Secretary of State, he will visit each of the state’s 23 county clerks to discuss “outstanding issues” from the 2020 elections. He mentioned how two leading members of the Secretary of State’s Office announced their resignations after State Rep. Chuck Gray, R-Casper, won the Republican nomination for the job.

“This raises some concerns about the current staff’s ability to administer the November election without incident,” Ferguson said.

Ferguson said he will alleviate those concerns because of his managerial experience and time spent working on Wall Street.

Mark Armstrong

Armstrong, a geologist, ran for Secretary of State during the recent Republican primary and finished third.

During his campaign, Armstrong, an Albany County committeeman, 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 also 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.

“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 told Cowboy State Daily on Thursday 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.

John Holtz

Holtz is a Laramie attorney who served as a Converse County judge from 1981-93 and a deputy county attorney for Converse County from 1979-81. He also has served as district court commissioner in Converse and Albany counties and a number of president and chairman positions within different judicial organizations.

He also is a former chairman and vice chairman of the Albany County Republican Party.

“My appointment will bring a unique perspective to the office of Secretary of State with international experience and expertise,” he says in his application. “I will employ the highest degree of ethical behavior pursuant to the law and the Constitution of the State of Wyoming.”

In 2012, Holtz filed an ethical complaint regarding former President Barack Obama’s nomination for president from the Democratic Party. 

Pete Illoway

Illoway, a Cheyenne resident, is a former state legislator and chairman of the Corporations, Elections and Political Subdivisions Committee. He ran for secretary of state in 2014, finishing third with 16,596 votes. 

He is now a lobbyist and consultant. Illoway is a former co-chair of the Wyoming Business Council and a current board chair of the Wyoming Community Development Authority.

“It is absolutely imperative that the integrity of the elections process be upheld, and I would do that if appointed,” Illoway says in his application.

Illoway spent most of his application packet informing the State GOP about what the Secretary of State does. He expressed confidence in the employees of the Secretary of State’s office and said it “absolutely imperative that the integrity of elections be upheld,” and would ensure this if chosen for the job.

Jennifer James

James runs a nonprofit healthcare training organization and holds a doctorate degree as well as a master’s from Harvard University. She unsuccessfully ran for State House District 60 in this year’s primary.

A Green River resident, James also was an assistant director with the Wyoming State Board of Nursing from 2016-2020.

James included very little information about what she would do if chosen for interim secretary of state.

“My goal as a strong Republican and highly qualified candidate is to help assure our incoming SOS has a smooth transition into this important role,” James says in her application. 

James is married to State Rep. Tom James, R-Green River.

Janet Marschner

Marschner is a Cheyenne resident who unsuccessfully ran for Senate District 31 this year. She was a certified public accountant for more than 30 years and is now a general contractor and small business owner.

She is a member of the Wyoming Federation of Republican Women and a board member for Wyoming Health Fairs and Wyoming Stockgrowers Land Trust.

Marschner said her objective is to serve the people of Wyoming and provide what is needed by Gray.

“My intent is to work and communicate with the incoming Secretary of State throughout this time,” Marscner says in her application. “The appointed person has the obligation to provide a smooth transition of the office.”

Bryan Miller

Miller is Chairman of the Sheridan County Republican Party and holds two master’s degrees. He ran unsuccessfully for House District 51 in this year’s primary and was an early candidate in this year’s U.S. Congressional race.

Miller has significant military experience and has done work supporting the White House Interagency Policy Committee. He is the owner and chief executive of a company that mitigates radar interference associated with the mass deployment of wind turbines across the nation.

Miller said he understands the importance of the secretary of state having worked with a number of the Wyoming Legislature’s committees. 

“I have the experience and skills to analyze and identify any deviations beyond the standard set forth by regulations, statutes and, yes, the Wyoming and United States constitutions,” Miller says in his application.

If chosen for the role, he said he will ensure the continuation of secretary of state operations and “assure the people of Wyoming that the results of our general election are legitimate.”

Patrick Miller

Patrick Miller is an assistant attorney general with the Wyoming Attorney General’s Office. In his duties, he advises the three boards and commissions the secretary of state sits on.

“I meet the Constitutional qualifications as I have reached the age of 25 and am registered to vote as a Republican,” Patrick Miller says in his application. 

He earned his juris doctor from the University of Michigan and his bachelor’s degree from Azusa Pacific University.

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