Tom Lubnau: The Headline For Failure -- The Wyoming Republican Party

Columnist Tom Lubnau writes, "the Wyoming Republican Party, with its supermajority, starts to do funny things. The Party starts to eat its own. Conservatives are not conservative enough. Republicans are not Republican enough. Factions and interest groups start to form within the Party."

Tom Lubnau

March 20, 20247 min read

Lubnau head 2
(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

The purpose of political parties is to elect like-minded candidates to office. 

The Republican Party has traditionally been more socially conservative. The Democrat Party has been more socially liberal. Budget hawks have lived in both parties.

In 2004 and 2005, Democrats populated one-third of the Wyoming House and the Wyoming Senate.   A Democrat occupied the governor’s office.  Democrats were a political force in Wyoming.

In order to override a gubernatorial veto, all the Republicans and one Democrat had to vote for the override. 

With the exception of 8 years under Jim Geringer, Democrats occupied the Governor’s office through the Herschler, Sullivan and Freudenthal administrations.  Since Freudenthal, we have had Governor Mead and Governor Gordon.  

The Obama Administration, and in particular, Obama’s attack on mineral production and Obamacare, wrecked the Wyoming Democratic Party.  

The Party has had difficulty in gaining a foothold in the state ever since that time. 

The Democratic Party’s focus on national issues, instead of addressing the concerns of Wyoming folks has kept them in Wyoming obscurity.

On the other hand, the Wyoming Republican Party is wrecking itself.  Republicans have the ability, through internal disputes, to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. The signs of a looming defeat are rustling in the wind. 

Look at the symptoms of potential failure.

The current Wyoming Republican Party leadership was not the group of people who built the Party into the force it is now.  The current leadership has inherited the hard work of lots of their predecessors in building a strong viable Party.

Now, the current leadership calls the folks who built the Party into a supermajority “the establishment Republicans”.  

According to current leadership, the “establishment Republicans” know nothing, are misguided and their advice in building and maintaining a Party is without value.

The Wyoming Republican Party believes itself to be invincible.  Since the Party controls both houses and all the executive offices, the Republicans believe there are no outside threats. 

They are acting like the Colorado Republican Party of the 2000’s. Read The Blueprint:  How Democrats Won Colorado (and Why Republicans Everywhere Should Care.)

So, the Republican Party, with its supermajority, starts to do funny things.  The Party starts to eat its own.   Conservatives are not conservative enough. Republicans are not Republican enough.

Factions and interest groups start to form within the Party.  The factions start to call each other names.  The factions develop bizarre political names to dehumanize their in-party opposition.

Party officials recruit candidates to run against incumbent Party office holders in violation of a long tradition of supporting incumbents, thus creating an internal cancer.

The Party conducts secret investigations of its members, trying to create a like-minded purity.

The Republican Party adopts a top-secret star-chamber-like dispute resolution process in its bylaws to quash any dissent by those disenfranchised by the Party’s actions.

The Party disqualifies delegates from large communities through alleged violations of rules so the larger communities are not allowed to vote on the platforms and resolutions.

The Party attempts to censure their elected officials. The Wyoming Republican Party attempted to censure of Governor Mead at its State Convention (it narrowly failed).  The Party passed a no-confidence vote implicating Governor Gordon.  

The Party hands out censures of elected officials and leaders like candy at Halloween, doing what it can to undermine their reelection.  

Officials who have currently been censured by the Republican Party include Senator Cynthia Lummis, Rep. Liz Cheney, Sen. Cale Case, Rep. Cyrus Western, Dr. Joe McGinley and Republican stalwart JoAnn True, amongst others. 

Expect more censures to spew out of the Wyoming Republican convention this year. 

The Party adopts narrower and narrower definitions and rules as to who can be a Party member and who can participate.  The Reagan Republican big tent becomes the Wyoming Republican rain poncho. 

The Party works to restrict who people can call themselves Republicans.  The party works to restrict who can vote as a Republican.

The Party creates all types of litmus tests as to who is a real Republican and who is a false Republican.  Websites spring up defining who is a true Republican based on nebulous criteria designed to achieve a certain result.  The Party does nothing to defend its elected officials.

Donations to the Party as a whole start to disappear. 

The Party factions issue weekly press releases about why fellow Party members are unworthy.

Normal people with real lives who do not live inside the Republican social sphere start to look at the ridiculous Party sideshow with disgust.  

Those folks roll their eyes and disassociate with anything Republican. The Party faithful become an echo chamber of zealotry, while driving away people potential voters.

The tent for the Republican Party grows smaller and smaller as the arrogance of its purist leaders grows larger and larger. 

The funny thing about this particular brand of arrogance is the party leaders will stay the course, arguing they are doing the right thing for the state, while the party burns around them.

Then, some tragic triggering event will happen.  A crime, riot, economic or policy shift will resonate with the people of the State of Wyoming.

The people will reject the Republican Party for alternatives.  It may not be the Democrat Party, but it will be something.

The tea leaves show disaffection is starting to grow against the Wyoming Republican Party.  

The U.S. Supreme Court tossed the abortion issue right back into the laps of the states by overruling Roe v. Wade.  The state had to react, and react they did.   Fetuses are human beings from the moment of conception under Wyoming law, now.  Abortion of most any type is banned. 

In reaction to the new law, there is a growing, largely female, population of folks who think super-conservative folks should mind their own business – which may not bode well for the conservative Republican movement.

Local government folks are getting tired of having to defend their operations to the state legislature and being treated rudely when they do.

Business is getting weary of the political uncertainty created by flighty legislative policy.  Their PAC donations are redirected.

Workers are getting tired of being disregarded by a legislature that cares only about itself.

Families are discouraged by the lack of compassion and interest in young family issues shown by the Party.

Some event or situation will occur, which will enflame a large percentage of Wyoming voters.  The status quo will vanish.  The Party will be rejected.  Change always happens.  Arrogance of those in power makes the change happen faster.

The one thing we know, today, is things next year will be different than they are this year.  If the Republican Party keeps following this recipe for failure, the arrogance of today will be the minority of tomorrow.

Instead of looking to future success, the Republican Party is baking cake.  Soon they will earn  the right to say, “Let them eat cake!”

Tom Lubnau served in the Wyoming Legislature from 2005 - 2015 and is a former Speaker of the House.

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Tom Lubnau