Chuck Gray Says He Won’t Certify Candidacy If Gordon Seeks 3rd Term

Secretary of State Chuck Gray said Sunday that if Gov. Mark Gordon wanted to run for a third consecutive term that he wouldn’t certify his candidacy because he believes the governor is bound by term limits. He made the statement during a Sunday political event in Casper.

LW
Leo Wolfson

July 08, 20245 min read

Secretary of State Chuck Gray at a political rally in Casper on July 7, 2024. At the rally, he said if Gov. Mark Gordon were to run for and win a third term in office in 2026, he wouldn't certify the election.
Secretary of State Chuck Gray at a political rally in Casper on July 7, 2024. At the rally, he said if Gov. Mark Gordon were to run for and win a third term in office in 2026, he wouldn't certify the election. (Leo Wolfson, Cowboy State Daily)

Editor’s Note: This story has been corrected to reflect Chuck Gray said he wouldn’t certify Gov. Mark Gordon’s candidacy for a third term in office for the 2026 election, not his actual election to a third term. Under Wyoming law, someone can serve more than two terms, but no more than eight years in a 16-year period, which effectively limits governors to no more than two consecutive terms.

CASPER — Secretary of State Chuck Gray is already drawing lines in the sand when it comes to the 2026 Wyoming governor’s race.

At a political rally in Casper on Sunday, Gray said he’s heard rumblings that Gov. Mark Gordon may try to run for a third consecutive term in 2026.

He said if Gordon tries that, he won’t certify his candidacy.

“I will tell you this,” Gray told the crowd. “State law is very clear that the governor is subject to the Term Limits Initiative passed by the people of Wyoming in 1991.

“I will not certify him for office for a third term,” Gray said, bringing a loud cheer from the audience.

Gray said he’s been hearing the governor plans to run for a third term, although Gordon has said nothing publicly on the topic so far.

The governor’s office did not immediately respond to Cowboy State Daily’s request for comment on Gray’s statement Sunday evening.

Gray’s position underscores the animosity in his relationship with the governor.

The two frequently engage spats and arguments at State Loan and Investment Board meetings and publicly criticize each other despite both being Republicans. It’s an uncommon relationship in Wyoming for a sitting governor and secretary of state, the No 2 position in the state.

Gordon won his 2022 reelection campaign by a large margin of the vote.

“I think everybody is in agreement, outside of the pure insiders and those that have crossed over into the party, that it’s time for Gordon to move on,” Gray said.

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Can He Run For A Third Term?

The Wyoming Constitution does not definitively clarify whether a governor can run for a third term or more in Wyoming. It also doesn’t outlaw it.

What the state’s election statutes say is that a governor cannot serve more than eight years in office in a 16-year span. That effectively limits the office holder to no more than two consecutive terms.

In 2013, the Wyoming Supreme Court ruled in favor of former Secretary of State Max Maxfield that term limits are unconstitutional for the offices of secretary of state, auditor, treasurer and superintendent of public instruction in Wyoming, but not specifically governor.

The court has historically ruled that if something is not illegal under the Wyoming Constitution, it is thereby legal, but Maxfield told Cowboy State Daily the governor may need to file a lawsuit to back his campaign if he does choose to run for a third term.

“It would have to go to court either way,” he said.

Maxfield said if a case did go to the court, it would rule in favor of Gordon as there are no stipulations on term limits for governor in the state Constitution.

“If Mark were to run it would be viewed as constitutional,” Maxfield said. So, if Gray followed through on his promise, it “would get overturned.”

Gray indicated Sunday he agrees with that prediction.

“And I don’t know. The Supreme Court — they might very well throw it out and go against the will of the people, just like they did (on term limits) on legislators,” he said.

He also said that Gordon “thinks he can get (the limit) thrown out,” but that he won’t allow it.

“Now, he can sue me, and I guess it would be Gordon v. Gray,” he said.

Gray said he would refer to the 2004 ruling the Supreme Court made where it only addressed the issue of term limits for state legislators.

“That is still in place, and I will follow the law,” Gray said. “Unfortunately, Gordon does not seem to want to follow the will of voters from 1991.”

Former Gov. Ed Herschler served three terms from 1975-1987, prompting the term limit initiative shortly after.

Gray’s Governor Ambitions

Gray was also asked Sunday if he himself will run for governor in 2026.

He mostly dodged the question, but said he finds it humorous that the media and certain people think he’s vying for a higher office because of the drive he puts into his job on an everyday basis.

“The media has so never seen somebody work so hard, I guess, or be so passionate about their work,” he said. “They think the only reason I would do that is because I have future ambition, not that I am driven by the position that I have.

“We actually want to get something done, which is different from the insider politicians that they (media) lift up.”

Leo Wolfson can be reached at leo@cowboystatedaily.com.

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Leo Wolfson

Politics and Government Reporter