NEWCASTLE — The Wyoming Republican Party passed a vote of “no confidence” on Saturday against Gov. Mark Gordon for his recent comments at Harvard University that Wyoming is committed to becoming “carbon negative” and that the climate is warming.
The motion for a “no confidence” vote originated from the Park County Republican Party, which passed it at its county meeting Thursday and says Gordon “boldly turned” his back on Wyoming Republicans.
A vote of no confidence isn’t as strong a censure, but is an official statement about how the party views what Gordon said during his Harvard visit.
Vince Vanata, the Park County committeeman who read a statement on behalf of the county party Saturday, said unlike the firm condemnation that is a censure, a no confidence resolution states that a majority of the party disagrees with Gordon’s position.
“A censure is a severe disapproval,” Vanata told Cowboy State Daily. “This just states that we don’t support his policy of the issue of carbon reduction or climate change.”
Gordon did not immediately respond to a Cowboy State Daily request for comment on the no confidence vote.
What Did He Say?
The no confidence motion accuses Gordon of pushing a “Socialist agenda.”
During his talk at the Ivy League school, Gordon said Wyoming needs to urgently address climate change by going “carbon negative.”
"It is clear that we have a warming climate," Gordon said. "It is clear that carbon dioxide is a major contributor to that challenge. There is an urgency to addressing this issue and it isn’t only going to be solved by turning off fossil fuels.”
He later clarified to Cowboy State Daily that he has no desire to pull away any investment from fossil fuels and wants to use better technology to reduce Wyoming’s carbon footprint.
Gordon also said during his talk that Wyoming is the first state to commit to becoming carbon negative.
Although the no confidence vote passed unanimously without any discussion, there were a number of members who abstained from voting on it, including Laramie County GOP Committeewoman Dani Olsen.
“I’m disappointed about his position on it, but I don’t have a vote of no confidence,” she told Cowboy State Daily.
The statement rejects that Wyoming has a desire to become carbon negative and also asserts that Gordon has never before publicly espoused his stance on the state having a goal to be the first to achieve carbon negative status.
Although many Republicans in Wyoming reacted with surprise and criticized Gordon’s comments, the views he expressed weren’t a departure from past statements he’s made on climate change issues.
Gordon has consistently pushed an all-of-the-above energy platform, advocating for an equal commitment to traditional fossil fuels and alternative energies. Although Gordon has often talked about reaching net-zero carbon emissions, he has less frequently discussed becoming carbon-negative.
Saturday’s statement of no confidence says Gordon’s actions have “boldly turned” his back on the values of the Wyoming Republican Party and its fossil fuels industries.
“Governor Gordon’s current path accepting climate change, and his goals decarbonizing the West, is counterproductive to the best interests of Wyoming,” the resolution states.
The resolution also says that the timing of its passage Saturday was critical considering Gordon will be host to and chair the Western Governors Association meeting in Jackson starting Monday.
Gordon’s Harvard comments received backlash from the Wyoming Freedom Caucus and coverage from a few national news outlets like Newsweek and Fox News.
Gordon also made a number of other comments during his talk at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Institute of Politics in late October that haven’t been criticized, such as his complaints about federal regulation, housing and rural economic development.
Leo Wolfson can be reached at Leo@CowboyStateDaily.com.