Reid Rasner Confident He'll Win Senate Primary Despite Barrasso’s Approval Rating

Sen. John Barrasso’s primary opponent Reid Rasner says he feels confident based on local polling data that he can win the Senate primary -- despite Barrasso having the highest approval rating in the U.S. Senate.

Leo Wolfson

April 26, 20246 min read

Republican candidate for Wyoming's U.S. Senate nomination, speaks during the 2024 Wyoming Republican Party convention in Cheyenne.
Republican candidate for Wyoming's U.S. Senate nomination, speaks during the 2024 Wyoming Republican Party convention in Cheyenne. (Matt Idler for Cowboy State Daily)

U.S. Senate candidate Reid Rasner said he has been traveling more than 2,500 miles a week to convince Wyoming Republicans they should pick him over the longtime incumbent and one of the leading Republicans in Congress.

Since his campaign launched eight months ago, Rasner said he’s received a consistent message around Wyoming that U.S. Sen. John Barrasso has failed the Cowboy State.

“My messaging resonates with Wyoming voters,” Rasner said. “They want a true leader, and I think they’re sick of being sold out to lobbyists.”

Rasner, a Casper resident, entered the race against three-term Wyoming Senator Barrasso last August. He’s still running his full-time business throughout the campaign, which leads to many 16- to 18-hour workdays for the aspiring congressman. On Friday, he said he got started at 3:15 a.m.

“We just keep moving forward and keep doing it,” Rasner said. “We’re working for Wyoming and the people of Wyoming, that’s what’s setting us apart.”

Barrasso has been in office since 2007 and has never faced a particularly competitive election. Although a considerable underdog, Rasner said he believes this primary election will be different.

“It’s about the hard truth of John’s failures and I think the voters of Wyoming see through it,” Rasner said.

Rasner was relatively unknown in Wyoming political circles when he announced, and has been trying to build some name recognition by attending more than 60 events around the state, holding frequent town halls and attending local Republican Party meetings in every county.

“We have a strong path to victory, we’re doing good things across the state and our message resonates with voters,” Rasner said.

What Does The Public Say?

Rasner believes straw polling from three county Republican Party caucuses and conventions around the state shows he has a comfortable lead over the incumbent, having 90% support in Washakie County, 68.9% in Lincoln County, and 77.1% in Albany County in a head-to-head matchup with Barrasso.

“These are actual Republican primary voters,” Rasner said.

The makeup of these three parties represents the farther right contingency of the Republican Party. How Rasner will fare against the general Republican voters in Wyoming is yet to be seen.

When Rasner spoke at the Wyoming GOP state convention last weekend, he received a supportive, yet not overly enthusiastic, response from the audience.

A Morning Consult poll released Monday found that Barrasso is America’s most popular senator with a 74% approval rating among voters. A total of 18% of voters say they disapprove of Barrasso’s performance, and 8% either don’t know or don’t have an opinion.

This survey sampled at least 343 registered votes in Wyoming, but did not delineate between Republicans and Democrats. The fact that it was polled from a general election voter pool makes the poll illegitimate, Rasner said. He said no comprehensive poll has yet been performed for the race.

“The straw polls conducted in the individual county parties, where Republicans countywide voted, they provide an accurate depiction of Wyoming’s sentiment though,” he said. “Across these polls I’ve consistently led with 60%-90% margins, demonstrating my growing momentum statewide.”

The problem with that argument is that Wyoming Democrats aren’t big fans of Barrasso either, routinely criticizing him on their state party social media channels. It’s likely there will be a few Democratic candidates in the Wyoming Senate race this fall.

When former President Donald Trump endorsed Barrasso to be the next Republican Whip for the Senate Republican Conference, it appeared to be a striking blow for Ranser, who had based a significant amount of his campaign at the point around his support for Trump and his policies.

But Rasner said that’s not the case as he views Trump’s endorsement as solely for the role of whip, in the event that Barrasso gets the Republican nomination and general election win to be able to run for the No. 2 Republican leadership position in the Senate.

Rasner said he was told by a Trump staffer at last weekend’s convention that Trump isn’t planning on making an official endorsement in his race.

This could be true as Trump didn’t specifically clarify which race he was endorsing Barrasso for, although on his social media platform Truth Social he called him a “fantastic senator” who has his “Complete and Total Endorsement.”

Time To Go

Rasner believes Barrasso isn’t effectively representing Wyoming and is more focused on his leadership ambitions and currying the favor of fellow Republicans rather than supporting the people of Wyoming.

“I’m not here to make friends,” Rasner said. “I’m here to do a job. I’m not here to coddle or become part of the establishment.”

He pointed to Barrasso’s votes against funding for Trump’s border wall in 2019, his consistent support for spending bills, and recent vote in support of a bill that will continue warrantless government surveillance on Americans as problematic. He also blames Barrasso for high prescription drug prices.

“All leading back to John Barrasso’s voting record,” he said.

Rasner also claims a Mexican cartel has reached Wyoming based on his conversations with many law enforcement officials. He mentioned the case of a Montana man with alleged cartel ties torturing a Lander woman at his Montana home earlier this year as further evidence.

“The cartel is here. It’s established and we’re now a border state,” Rasner said. “Voters are looking for strength and a way out of this, and that’s what I’m offering them.”

Rasner also said Barrasso has supported President Joe Biden’s green energy policies, but Barrasso, the ranking member of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, has often spoken against these policies. He’s also consistently spoken against moving away from coal and oil but has issued support for certain alternative energy approaches like carbon capture, which has also been supported by Gov. Mark Gordon.

Rasner describes this approach to energy as a “disaster.”

“John and Gov. Gordon have pushed on us so strongly,” Rasner said.

Leo Wolfson can be reached at

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Leo Wolfson

Politics and Government Reporter