By Leo Wolfson, State Political Reporter
Karl Allred was sworn in as interim Secretary of State of Wyoming on Monday, but Gov. Mark Gordon’s choice of Allred for the role doesn’t sit well with state Rep. Mike Yin.
The Democrat from Jackson had some strong words about the appointment after the announcement was made last week.
“None of the choices given to the governor by the WY Republican Party were reasonable options when there were former county clerks that applied for the appointment,” Yin says in a short press release.
The Wyoming Republican Party selected Allred, Marti Halverson and Bryan Miller as finalists for the interim role. None of the finalists have directly worked in an election and all three lost their most recent races for the Wyoming Legislature.
Yin said Allred has shown he will not remain impartial toward his race because of comments Allred made at a state GOP Central Committee meeting in mid-September. At that meeting, Allred commented on Yin’s race for a third term against Republican challenger Jim McCollum, saying, “If any of you have met him (Yin) or dealt with him in any committee meetings, the guy is a flippin’ idiot, and we need to get rid of him.”
As secretary of state, Allred will oversee the upcoming general election in Wyoming.
In an interview with Cowboy State Daily on Tuesday afternoon, Yin said he doesn’t want to posit what Allred “could, might or might not do,” with his new responsibility and power. He clarified further that he has confidence in the security of Wyoming’s elections and the staff in the Secretary of State’s office.
“It was irresponsible for him to be selected,” Yin said. “He weighed in on an election before selected as the interim. It was unbecoming to make a statement like that.”
Allred did not immediately respond to a Cowboy State Daily request for comment for this story.
Allred had not publicly announced his candidacy for interim secretary of state by the time he made his statement about Yin, but it was well-known at that time the party would be accepting applications for the role and deciding interim candidates the next weekend.
Former Secretary of State Ed Buchanan announced in early September that Sept. 15 would be his last day in office.
Yin said he would have much rather seen Mary Lankford, a former Sublette County clerk of 32 years, chosen for the interim role. Lankford finished fifth in the GOP’s voting for candidates.
The role of the secretary of state is an important one in Wyoming as the office also is in charge of the state’s business filings and a member of the State Loan and Investments Board, Board of Land Commissioners and the State Building Commission.
The secretary of state also takes over the governor’s duties if the sitting governor leaves the state at any time and is the immediate interim replacement if the governor steps down or dies while in office.
Allred & Yin
Allred is a Uinta County GOP committeeman. He unsuccessfully ran for the Legislature and county precinct committeeman in the August primary. Allred also lost bids for the Legislature in 2020, 2018 and 2014. Although he also failed to be elected as a precinct committee member in 2020, Allred was voted in by the Uinta County GOP as a state committeeman in 2021.
That election, which also resulted in the selection of Biffy Jackson as county GOP chairman and Jana Williams as state committeewoman, sparked a lawsuit from Jon Conrad and other plaintiffs like Sen. Wendy Schuler, R-Evanston, and Rep. Danny Eyre, R-Evanston. This case is being considered by the Wyoming Supreme Court.
Conrad beat Allred in this year’s primary election.
“I wish Karl the best as secretary of state,” Conrad said Monday.
In 2020, Allred participated in a Stop the Steal rally on the front steps of the Wyoming Capitol building.
During the state GOP’s selection meeting for interim Secretary of State candidates Sept. 24, Allred pledged that he will facilitate a smooth transition for the permanent secretary of state, who will take over in January. He was vague when asked by Cowboy State Daily at that meeting if he would refrain from talking to Rep. Chuck Gray, R-Casper, largely expected to be the next person in the role, until after the general election.
“I talk to everybody,” he said.
Yin is the House minority caucus chairman and a member of both the Judiciary and Revenue committees, two of the Legislature’s preeminent committees. He also is one of the leading voices on cryptocurrency within the Legislature.
Yin faced no opponents during the 2020 election and beat his Republican opponent in the 2018 election by 19 percentage points.
“I don’t take any election lying down,” Yin said. “I look at my elections as a review process by the voters.”
Yin said he would support an almost complete removal of political parties from the state’s Title 22 election code, which would make them private entities under state law and likely strip their power to directly select appointment candidates. During the 2022 Legislative session he sponsored a bill that would have initiated open primaries in the state, allowing voters to vote for any candidate they like in the primary election no matter their party affiliation. This legislation would thereby remove a significant part of the political parties’ role in elections.