Sparks Already Fly In GOP Showdown Between Cody Mayor, National Committeewoman

A Republican showdown between Cody Mayor Matt Hall and GOP National Committeewoman Nina Webber is already getting personal as they square off for a potential swing seat for the Freedom Caucus in the Wyoming Legislature.

Leo Wolfson

March 13, 20247 min read

Cody Mayor Matt Hall and Wyoming Republican National Committeewoman Nina Webber.
Cody Mayor Matt Hall and Wyoming Republican National Committeewoman Nina Webber. (Cowboy State Daily Staff)

There could be some fireworks in Park County this summer independent of the annual Fourth of July celebrations.

Cody Mayor Matt Hall has announced his intention to run for House District 24 in Cody for Republican Rep. Sandy Newsome’s seat.

Hall said Newsome isn’t planning to run for re-election. Cowboy State Daily reached out to Newsome to confirm that, but hadn’t heard back by the time this story was published.

Hall is finishing his second term as Cody mayor, a role he’s held for the past eight years.

“I just want to continue serving in that capacity of making my community a better place,” Hall said.

Facing off against Hall in the Republican primary will be Wyoming Republican Party National Committeewoman Nina Webber, a Wapiti resident who said she’ll “fight like a wolverine to keep this state red and not let my beloved Wyoming turn into” Colorado or California.

Webber has been very involved with Park County politics and statewide Republican activities for years and frequently represents Wyoming at out-of-state Republican National Committee meetings. She’s also collaborated with former President Donald Trump’s staff and supports his 2024 presidential campaign.

“The vast majority of Wyomingites backed President Trump in 2020,” Webber said. “I have developed a huge backing of Republicans, and this will help me if elected.”

This will be Webber’s third time running for HD 24 after losing in 2020 and 2022 to Newsome. If elected, Webber said her No. 1 goals would be to listen to her constituents and repeal outdated laws.

“HD 24 residents are very active and vocal about the skyrocketing property taxes, indoctrination of children, private property rights and election integrity, and have asked me again to represent them,” she said.

Continuing Where Newsome Left Off, Or Not

Hall said his main focus if elected will be to do what he believes is best for the Cody community.

Park County receives a significant portion of its revenue from tourism and is considered a gateway community to Yellowstone National Park, located a little more than an hour outside the northwestern Wyoming city.

During her five years in the Legislature, Newsome made outdoor recreation and tourism one of her bread-and-butter issues, rising to chair of the House Travel, Recreation, Wildlife and Resources Committee in her third term.

Hall said he will continue this focus if elected and expects Newsome to endorse him in the race.

“I’ll be helping to support the tourism industries and doing what I can to improve the outdoor recreation areas up here where we can grow some of our tourism business,” he said.

Overall, he wants to support Wyoming’s traditional industries while still encouraging new areas of growth.

During his time as mayor, Cody grew substantially, but Hall said he took pride in maintaining a fiscally conservative city budget throughout, an approach he would try to continue at the Legislature.

Although certain members of the Cody City Council may not have always agreed with his viewpoints on the budget, Hall said he was always able to work with them to find a solution that was amenable to all parties and the city.

Big Change Needed

If elected, Webber said the difference between her and Newsome will be “night and day.”

“Many people have told me they have had no representation for six years, (that Newsome) did not follow the Republican platform, voted against nearly every issue HD 24 people wanted, did not attend Republican meetings, is rated at the bottom of legislators by four different political analyzation sites and did not go out and talk to the people,” Webber said. “She struck out on her own and struck out.”

Specifically, Webber said she’ll fight against new taxes as she believes local counties, municipalities and schools all have adequate reserves.

In 2020, Hall, like the city councils of Cody, Powell and Meeteetse, supported a one cent sales tax increase that was rejected by voters.

“So, it’s a safe bet that if elected he would vote for every new tax that comes along,” Webber said about her opponent. “I am not a fence rider on the issues, whether social or political.”

To The Legislature

Both Hall and Webber are frequently-seen faces at the State Capitol during the legislative session.

Hall is the president of the Wyoming Association of Municipalities and testified on multiple bills during the past session and has also in years’ past.

He said this experience has taught him about how the legislative process works and that opposition to what might seem like even the most benign bills can always come from out of the woodwork.

“You get an understanding that when you drop a piece of legislation, that’s when you realize all these other groups and all these other people that are paying attention down there and how what you do is going to have some kind of effect collaterally on somebody else,” he said.

Webber also frequently attends the Legislature as part of her work representing the GOP.

“The legislative process is complicated, exciting and a great learning process,” she said. “The most effective and responsible government is the government that is closest to the people. Less government equals more freedom.”

Hall said the Legislature became distracted with outside topics and personal egos during this year’s session instead of focusing on the budget.

“It just got really out of hand as far as what their jobs was supposed to be, what their task was supposed to be doing,” he said.

If elected, he also wants to tackle the issue of housing, which in Cody has become a serious problem with many new residents moving into town and stretching the already thin housing supply. The rising prices also has prompted some to lament Cody could be on the verge of turning into another Jackson.

“If you’re not making over $70,000 a year, you cannot buy a house,” Hall said.

Specifically, Hall wants to make it easier for communities to team up with developers to build affordable and attainable housing while still maintaining local control for regulating this sector. He believes a housing solution that may work for Meeteetse isn’t necessarily the best option for Cody or Jackson.

“If you could build 150 new units in Cody tomorrow that would probably go a long way to solving a lot of our issues, but it would probably be snatched up in a matter of hours,” he said.

Upcoming Race

Webber didn’t shy away from going after Newsome during their prior races, buying numerous billboard ads around Cody where she blasted Newsome as a “RINO” (Republican in name only) for her voting record.

In response, Newsome took out an ad in the Cody Enterprise in 2022, calling her opponent’s attacks a “web of lies.”

Many of the Republican primary races in the upcoming elections will likely come down to alignment or support from the two main factions within the Wyoming GOP — the far-right Wyoming Freedom Caucus and more traditional Republican Wyoming Caucus.

Webber said she already works closely with members of the Freedom Caucus and supports their legislative goals.

Hall said he has connections with members of both the Freedom Caucus and Wyoming Caucus but doesn’t plan to align with either group or have an interest in engaging in “partisan battles.”

He hopes the upcoming race will remain civil.

“I respect whenever someone wants to get involved in politics and run, it’s always a challenging thing,” he said.

Webber already took some air out of that hope Tuesday, saying she and Hall, who is a Park County Republican Party precinct committeeman, are opposite in terms of being a Republican.

“I will continue to be a true Republican and adhere to the Republican platform. My record clearly shows that,” she said. “The other candidate has shown by his past governing actions and decisions that he surely does not follow the platform.”

Leo Wolfson can be reached at

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Leo Wolfson

Politics and Government Reporter