State Rep. Forrest Chadwick, R-Evansville, said it was through simple conversation that he was able to convince members of the Converse County Republican Party to not censure him during a meeting Tuesday night.
A drafted resolution to censure Chadwick was to be introduced over his overall voting record and a perception he has strayed too far from the Republican Party platform based on his voting record.
Ultimately, the county party couldn’t have censured Chadwick even if it wanted to as party leadership mistakenly forgot to advertise the public meeting in advance, so no formal action could be taken.
But Chadwick said what really mattered was that by the time he was done talking to the more than 40 people in attendance, he believed he had convinced most to not censure him in the future.
“It came out about as good as it could possibly come out,” Chadwick told Cowboy State Daily.
A censure is a symbolic gesture of condemnation. The Wyoming Republican Party and local county parties have used censures in recent years against a few state legislators and former congresswoman Liz Cheney for their votes and actions.
The proposed censure of Chadwick was because he “failed to vote in a manner that has any semblance to the oath that he made to God to ‘support, obey and defend the Constitution’ or any semblance to the Wyoming Republican Party Platform.”
It also accused him of a “blatant disregard to the oath that he made to God … and his failure to honor the Wyoming Republican Party Platform.”
Chadwick said he won the party over Tuesday by explaining to central committee members why he made the votes he did, how the legislative process works and where he stands on issues. He said even those who supported the censure received his arguments positively and that “it was a good evening for everybody.”
“I was able to use it as an educational moment,” he said.
Converse County GOP Chairman Bill Tibbs had a different take on the evening, not finding it as favorable for Chadwick as the legislator did, but that the meeting was “congenial” and many viewpoints were expressed.
“I don’t know that he won people over,” Tibbs said.
Tibbs said although Chadwick may have had some success in convincing people to not censure him, the chairman doesn’t believe he had success in changing people’s minds about his voting record.
“A censure is a separate issue in people’s minds,” he explained.
Chadwick has earned a low score from certain conservative political ranking sites like WyoRino.com and Evidencebasedwyoming.com, which are mentioned by name in the censure resolution and have accused him of not effectively adhering to the Republican platform.
Chadwick said he gives no credence to political ranking sites like these that he considers to be special interest groups and believes they can be manipulated and narrowed to create any kind of desired result.
“I don’t pay attention to those groups at all,” he said. “I make a stand. I have nothing to do with them. That’s my stand.”
One of his votes that received some criticism was on the Life is a Human Right Act, a 2023 bill prohibiting most forms of abortion in Wyoming. Although Chadwick voted to support amendments made to the bill, he voted against the law on its third reading in the House. Chadwick told Cowboy State Daily he voted against it in the House because he believed it to be unconstitutional, but when the bill came back from the Senate on concurrence, he voted to support it because he thought it had reached enough legal muster.
“What they considered was against some bills, (I) was in fact for,” Chadwick said. “They were for amendments to make them constitutional, which means that’s a vote for the bill.”
Chadwick believes Tuesday’s meeting set an important precedent and shows why it’s so important for lawmakers to communicate with their constituents. Instead of jumping to a censure resolution, he believes county Republican parties should request their legislators to come and explain their votes and how the Legislature works before taking action.
“I think this needs to happen all over the state,” he said. “That needs to take place all over the state, not just Converse County or Natrona County.”
Tibbs said the party will likely take some kind of action on the censure resolution at its November meeting, but there may not be any more discussion on the matter.
“I couldn’t tell one way or the other, but I don’t sense a real strong surge to pass it (the censure),” Tibbs said. “But I couldn’t tell that it won’t either.”
Although there’s no guarantee that the Converse County GOP won’t censure Chadwick, he has no concerns it will happen, calling the issue a “done deal.”
If Chadwick avoids a censure, he will be one of the few in recent years to do so. Although the Park County Republican Party considered a censure resolution against U.S. Sen. John Barrasso in 2022, it instead decided to send a letter to the lawmaker.
Leo Wolfson can be reached at Leo@CowboyStateDaily.com.