Chuck Gray is Wyoming’s next secretary of state.
Gray, a state representative from Casper, ran unopposed in the general election after defeating state Sen. Tara Nethercott, of Cheyenne, for the Republican nomination on Aug. 16.
He replaces interim Secretary of State Karl Allred, whom Gov. Mark Gordon appointed recently to fill a vacancy left by Ed Buchanan, when Buchanan accepted a judgeship.
“I want to thank the people of Wyoming,” Gray told Cowboy State Daily on Tuesday. “This is the people of Wyoming’s victory. I’m honored that the citizens of Wyoming have entrusted me with the mandate to work every day for their best interests as our next secretary of state.”
He thanked everyone who he helped and supported his campaign, saying every minute “meant a great deal.”
The secretary of state oversees Wyoming elections and is first in line to become governor should the governor be unable to serve.
“I started this campaign because I want to bring accountable, conservative leadership to the Secretary of State’s office,” said Gray.
Though Gray was the only name for the seat on Tuesday’s ballot, the season teemed with talk of write-in candidates. Soon after Gray’s nomination, Sen. Cale Case, R-Lander, spearheaded an effort to draft conservative activist and former legislator Nathan Winters to run against Gray as a write-in.
Winters declined, urging Republicans to vote for their party candidate.
The Wyoming Republican Party Central Committee answered Case’s effort by censuring him publicly in September. Case neither appealed for nor received state Republican Party funding.
The state party panel also censured most members of the Legislature’s Corporations, Elections and Political Subdivisions committee, after it voted to approve a draft bill stripping the Secretary of State of his duty to oversee the state’s elections.
Despite having introduced the draft, Corporations committee co-chair Rep. Dan Zwonitzer, R-Cheyenne, placed it on the back burner, telling Cowboy State Daily it was unlikely to gain traction in the Legislature.
Gray promised during his candidacy to get rid of ballot-box voting in Wyoming.
State statute allows the practice currently.
Allred in his role as interim secretary of state asked the state’s county clerks to eliminate ballot boxes ahead of the general election.
“I’m mindful of the fact that there have been no issues reported with the use of drop boxes in Wyoming, but that does not alleviate the potential for abuse or destruction of ballots through the use of fire or other means,” wrote Allred in an October letter to county clerks.
But none of the county clerks removed their ballot boxes.
Seven of Wyoming’s 23 counties use ballot drop boxes: Sweetwater, Teton, Laramie, Albany, Big Horn, Converse and Fremont.
Only in the state Legislature – not in the executive branch – can Wyoming’s elections law be changed.