Frank Moore says he’s a man who can bring people together.
“That’s kind of my strong suit, working with people in non-confrontational ways and bringing them together,” he told Cowboy State Daily on Wednesday morning.
Moore wants to use that ability to lead the Wyoming Republican Party, announcing he’s challenging state party Chairman Frank Eathorne’s bid for a third term.
Eathorne led the party as it censured former congresswoman Liz Cheney, supported former President Donald Trump’s 2020 election race and his continuing objections to the results of that election. He’s also been at the helm as infighting has emerged within the state party ranks.
Moore, 70, said he isn’t running against Eathorne as a “hostile takeover,” but rather as an effort to bring unity and increased strength to the Wyoming GOP. Like Eathorne, Moore is from the town of Douglas in Converse County.
“I think the leadership style that I would bring to the Republican Party would give people an opportunity to visit with me and see whether they wanted to come back,” he said. “I think I can bring this party back together. That’s really why I stuck my neck into this thing.”
The Wyoming Republican Party is highly fractured, consisting of a majority that have supported Eathorne in the past and prefer a more rigid adherence to party platform.
A growing minority prefers a “big tent” approach to management of the party, embracing a wider range of views and interpretation of the Republican platform.
Moore said that will help with growing the state party if he shows he’s “ready to take a leadership role in recruiting conservative candidates and strengthening the party.”
“I think I can bring the sides together,” he added. “I’ve been encouraged from people that you would say were in both camps to run for this position.”
Eathorne has openly opposed the big tent philosophy.
In 2022, the state party levied various punishments against the state’s two largest and most moderate county parties for rule infractions and failing to pay their dues, eliciting complaints the party has been heavy-handed and unfair.
The Natrona and Laramie county parties are now required to pay a fee to participate in state central committee meetings that will be put toward their outstanding debts.
In January, Eathorne and state GOP Treasurer Bob Ferguson sent a letter to precinct committee members of the Laramie and Natrona parties, telling them to "force" their leadership to pay their dues or they won't have full representation at the next state convention leading up to the presidential election.
"The decision to rectify the egregious actions by your county party leadership lies with YOU, the elected members of your County Central Committees!" the letter reads. "Only through actions from the elected members of the Central Committee, can you force your leadership to comply with the State Party bylaws and prevent your voice and the voices of the people you represent from being disenfranchised."
Moore said he also wants party members to not feel disenfranchised.
“I do think there’s division within the Republican Party. I don’t think there’s any question about that right now,” Moore said. “But I’m not sure there’s a big division in philosophy of the Republican Party.”
Describing himself as a “strong conservative,” Moore said he completely adheres to the Republican Party platform and voted for former President Donald Trump in the 2016 and 2020 elections.
As for the 2024 race, Moore said he will support whichever candidate the party nominates for president.
Eathorne is a firm Trump loyalist, saying he would “run through a barbed wire fence” for him at a rally Trump hosted in Casper in May 2022.
The elected chair of the Wyoming Republican Party will play a critical role in guiding the state party through its selection of delegates for the 2024 Republican National Convention, where the party’s candidate for the next presidential election will be selected. The convention happens before the Wyoming primary, making the delegate-selection process in most ways the more critical input for Wyoming in the presidential race.
Delegates in Wyoming are selected in a somewhat convoluted process for the national convention through nominations at county conventions and the state convention. It is the role of the chair to ensure the rules are followed in this process statewide.
If it is determined a process was initiated that violates Republican National Committee rules, a delegate could be prohibited from being seated at the national convention.
Moore, a Wyoming native, served as a representative in the state Legislature from 1993-1996 and on the board of directors for the Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank. He is the current co-owner of a local frozen lamb company based out of Douglas.
He is not a current precinct committeeman and hasn’t been involved in Wyoming or Republican Party politics for a few years, saying his work commitments were too great. Moore has never been a county party chairman, but has attended the Wyoming Republican Convention a few times as a delegate.
When he saw Teton County GOP Chair Mary Martin say she was considering running against Eathorne for chair earlier this month, it piqued Moore’s interest.
“People have been asking me to do this for years and to specifically run for the state chair,” Moore said. “I was interested in doing it and got quite a bit of encouragement.”
Moore said he had been asked by conservatives to run for chair and to get involved in the party in the past. With more requests coming in recent weeks and an increased flexibility in his schedule, Moore believes he has the time to fully commit to the role.
“I’m running because I’ve got the time, I’ve got the skill set, and I see division within our party, and with that division there’s maybe a need for some leadership change,” he said.
Moore has spent a significant portion of his life working in the sheep industry, serving as president of both the Wyoming Wool Growers Association and the American Sheep Industry Association. He also served as vice president of the Mountain States Lamb Cooperative for 17 years, an organization consisting of about 150 members from 14 different states.
It is these experiences Moore believes would make him adept at serving as chairman of the state party.
“Various backgrounds and ideas and I was able to lead that group for a long time I think successfully,” he said.
Moore said he has already informed Eathorne, whom he has known for many years, of his decision to run and is contacting as many members of the state central committee as he can in the coming days.
Eathorne won his 2021 reelection by a resounding margin.
Members of the more “traditional” wing of the party that support a big tent approach to party politics won central committee seats in a handful of counties during the county party election cycle this spring.
But more populist conservatives still retained leadership in a number of counties and gained back power in Campbell County. Due to their overwhelming majority entering the election cycle, the populist conservatives likely still have a majority of the votes in the party.
Eathorne has received consistent support from his populist base, standing behind the chairman despite his attendance of the Jan. 6 Capitol event and the revelation of other improprieties from his past.
Moore will likely have to find some votes from this wing of the party in order to get elected. He feels confident about his chances.
“My plan is to get it,” he said.