Cheyenne Political Newcomer Is First To Announce 2024 Candidacy For Legislature

Cheyenne resident Gregg Smith, who moved to Wyoming from Oregon, has no political experience, but has become the first person to officially announce for the 2024 election, challenging lifelong Wyomingite Tara Nethercott for her Senate seat.

LW
Leo Wolfson

December 12, 20234 min read

Gregg Smith
Gregg Smith (Cowboy State Daily Staff)

Gregg Smith may not have any political experience, but he’s not letting that keep him from gearing up for his first big race as the first person in Wyoming to publicly announce he’s running for the Wyoming Legislature in 2024.

Most legislative candidates typically announce their candidacy the spring before the August primary elections in Wyoming, in line with the opening of the candidate filing period in May.

Smith, who is running as a Republican, said he wants to get ahead of the pack so he can get to know the people of Senate District 4, a seat now held by state Sen. Tara Nethercott, R-Cheyenne, who is a lifelong Wyomingite.

Nethercott told Cowboy State Daily on Monday that although she hasn’t officially announced a bid for reelection, she has “no intention not to run.”

Smith moved to his district two years ago, but has lived in Wyoming for 18 years moving here from Eugene, Oregon. If it were up to him, Smith said he would meet with all the roughly 18,000 people in his district.

“It takes time,” he said. “To talk to everyone, it takes time.”

And that’s why he has announced his candidacy as early as he has, so he can get to know as many people as he can and get his name out. Smith said he plans to do weekly podcasts on Facebook as part of his campaign.

Those running for federal races tend to announce their candidacy much earlier in Wyoming. Casper resident Reid Rasner announced in August he'll take on U.S. Sen. John Barrasso in the August 2024 Republican primary.

No other Republican has yet announced to run against U.S. Rep. Harriet Hageman.

Gregg Smith, left, and Tara Nethercott.
Gregg Smith, left, and Tara Nethercott. (Cowboy State Daily Staff)

Smith’s Platform

Smith said he actually has no problem with the way Nethercott, a second-term state senator, has been legislating. But said she has done a poor job communicating with her constituents, as he has never seen or heard from her.

He considers himself a firm supporter of the Republican Party platform, not supporting abortion in any scenario, and upholding the Second Amendment and the military.

“I love this place, but I’m tired of seeing things go the way I don’t want it to go,” he said. “I want the Wyoming way of life to continue.”

An Army veteran, the closest Smith has come to experiencing politics was the public relations work he did while in the military.

Smith said he was invited to attend the upcoming 2024 legislative session by Sen. Evie Brennan, R-Cheyenne, to see how the body operates.

Although he’s against the Republican infighting that’s dominated the State Capitol in recent years, he also doesn’t view himself as a unifier; rather, he said he’s more of a straight shooter.

“I don’t like when people are wishy-washy about things,” he said. “At least when I talk, you know where I stand.”

‘Some Other Poor Sucker’

On Sunday, former state lawmaker J.D. Williams of Lusk posted to Facebook discontent with recent events at the Capitol and said that those who want to bring about a certain change in the world have to take matters into their own hands.

Williams told Cowboy State Daily on Monday that the cryptic message was not his way of officially announcing that he’s running to get his House District 2 seat back, but is exploring the possibility.

“I don’t doubt in that it will happen, but if I can find some poor other sucker to run I would much rather have them do it,” he said. “I’m just trying to rattle everybody’s cage so they start thinking about it.”

Williams said he is very concerned about the hardline conservative Wyoming Freedom Caucus, of which his current representative, Allen Slagle of Newcastle, is a member.

“Call your representative if you’re conservative, but you can still resist the invitation to sell your soul to the Freedom Caucus,” Williams said. “You can’t serve two masters, you have a job to take care of your folks.”

As he referenced in his Facebook post, Williams said he’s had many people approach him about running again in 2024. After being appointed to his seat in 2021, Williams lost in the 2022 Republican primary election to Slagle by 12 votes.

“My phone’s been ringing off the wall with people who say what bothers them is their representative is answering to someone other than them,” Williams said. “Somehow, I’m the guy that gets the call.”

Former state Rep. J.D. Williams on the floor of the Legislature in 2022.
Former state Rep. J.D. Williams on the floor of the Legislature in 2022. (Matt Idler for Cowboy State Daily)

Leo Wolfson can be reached at Leo@CowboyStateDaily.com.

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Leo Wolfson

Politics and Government Reporter