Rod Miller:  Eathorne’s Charge — The High-Water Mark of the Wyoming Freedom Caucus

Columnist Rod Miller writes: "Couple the Freedom Caucus losses in many Wyoming county elections along with their dismal record of success in the legislative session, and the writing is on the wall. Folks in the Cowboy State are starting to tire of Freedom Caucus bluster and bullshit."

Rod Miller

March 22, 20234 min read

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On a sweltering Pennsylvania afternoon in 1863, a day before the Fourth of July, Confederate General George Pickett led a desperate charge against Union General Meade’s line at the base of Cemetery Ridge near Gettysburg.

Union forces repulsed the attack, and Pickett withdrew leaving the ground strewn with dead rebels. Pickett’s Charge is often described as the high-water mark of the Confederacy. While the Civil War would drag on for another couple of years, the South lost its last, best chance for ultimate victory with the failure of Pickett’s Charge.

From Cemetery Ridge, it was a long, slow, painful retreat for the Confederacy, mercifully ending at Appomattox.

Reading the political tea leaves, and considering what has taken place in early 2023 here in Wyoming, it appears that GOP fire-eaters in the Freedom Caucus have been repelled in their own Eathorne’s Charge. And their retreat will be slow and painful.

Leo Wolfson’s article on recent elections within the Wyoming GOP tallies up some of the Freedom Caucus losses that would lead a logical person to conclude that their MAGA wave has crested and is rolling back.

Certified fire-eaters like Marti Halverson and Karl Allred were booted out of leadership positions in their respective counties. In point of fact, the entire Freedom Caucus-friendly leadership of the Uinta County GOP was shown the door and replaced by a more moderate slate.

In Laramie County, at a meeting I attended, the slate of candidates put forward by our decidedly non-Freedom Caucus officers was challenged in a concerted effort by the fire-eaters to take control with their own list of candidates. Each challenger was shot down by an average margin of 2-1. 

The rumor around the ol’ campfire has Oral Eathorne and Chuck Gray giving their personal imprimaturs to the alternate slate. Hence, my clever title for this column, Eathorne’s Charge.

Couple these losses with the push-back against Freedom Caucus bills in the recent legislative session, and their dismal record of success, and the writing is starting to appear on the wall.

By all indications, folks in the Cowboy State are starting to tire of Freedom Caucus bluster and bullshit.

Don’t misunderstand, this isn’t the end of the Freedom Caucus, but I think the end is beginning.

They’ll hang around the edges of Wyoming politics for a while longer, whining about losing to Soros-backed swamp RINOs in elections wherein woke space aliens were allowed to vote.

A handful of ‘em might even toss their MAGA hats into the ring for governor, since Gordon is precluded from running. My prediction is that, if those Freedom Caucus platformicators enter the GOP gubernatorial primary, they’ll get whupped. Most likely by a woman.

In a few places, like Park County, the Freedom Caucus is pretty deeply rooted, and it’s watered and tended by the Park County Republican Men’s Full Gospel Gun & Glee Club. But its influence will be marginalized and localized and won’t mean much outside their glum little clubhouse.

Like I said, folks are starting to see through their hyperbolic BS. And their eventual appointment at Appomattox awaits with a certainty.

Folks in Wyoming are pretty tolerant of fiery political rhetoric that bashes the Establishment. We’re raised on it. But we also value stability over political theater, and we like to keep our horses between the traces. And we vastly prefer work horses over show horses.

We like stuff that actually works in the real world.

Freedom Caucus zealots would call that attitude RINO, swamp rat mentality, uniparty one-world government capitulation or any other snarky pejorative. But I like to call it traditional, old-school conservative. We were raised on that, too.

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Rod Miller

Political Columnist