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Darin Smith

Smith Suspends Congressional Campaign; Knapp And Bouchard Stay In; Gray Silent

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Cheyenne attorney Darin Smith suspended his congressional campaign on Thursday following former President Donald Trump’s endorsement of new candidate Harriet Hageman.

“I said hell would freeze over before I’d be the reason Liz Cheney gets re-elected to represent the great state of Wyoming in the U.S. House,” Smith told Cowboy State Daily. “President Trump has gotten behind Harriet Hageman to defeat Liz Cheney.  Unity is our strength, and it is imperative that we unite to take this great Country back.  To honor my word, I am throwing my support behind Harriet as well. Liz Cheney must go.”

“As the clear front runner prior to President Trump’s endorsement, my stepping back should help clear the field for a one-on-one matchup,” Smith continued. “If the dynamics of the race change, i.e. Cheney drops out or a Runoff Bill is passed, I will reassess my next steps.”

Smith took a parting shot at Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon in his announcement stating that the governor, along with other unnamed Republican officials, has “failed to demonstrate America First and Wyoming First values.”

“Whether or not my name is on the ballot, I will do everything I can to clear out the weak and fake Republicans who continue to run our Country into the ground. Wyoming deserves better,” he said.

Carbon County Republican Chair Joey Correnti sent emails to congressional candidates on Thursday morning asking them of their intentions now that Trump has endorsed Hageman.

“Are you prepared to honor your word to the people and endorse Harriet…for Wyoming’s lone seat in the U.S. House of Representatives and step aside in this race?” Correnti wrote.

Both Denton Knapp and state Sen. Anthony Bouchard told Cowboy State Daily they would stay in the race. Knapp noted that when he was asked in June about dropping out to endorse Trump’s choice, Hageman wasn’t even in the race and that the selection process for candidates to meet with Trump wasn’t clear.

“We just had a person, who wasn’t a candidate, get endorsed and now we’re supposed to drop [the campaign],” Knapp told Cowboy State Daily on Thursday. “Is that what Wyoming voters want? We’ve still got 11 months before the primary.”

“Former President Trump can choose who he wants to endorse, and he chose, but is Wyoming okay with that?” Knapp said. “A lot can happen over the next 11 months. But, I’m not going back on my word. We’ve got until May or June until we make hard decisions. I’m apparently not a threat anyway, so we’ll see what happens.”

Bouchard’s campaign manager told Cowboy State Daily that he never agreed to drop out if Trump didn’t select him.

Meanwhile, Bouchard said Wyoming voters shouldn’t trust Hageman because she “was a close friend of Cheney.”

“Harriet has never been elected,” Bouchard said. “She doesn’t have a voting record, and now the voters should trust a party operative that is a long time close friend of Cheney? Trump has once again surrounded himself with the wrong advisors and he’s endorsed the same candidate that Liz Cheney would endorse to replace her in her congressional seat.”

Rep. Chuck Gray, R-Casper, has not responded to Cowboy State Daily’s requests for comment.

Cheney reacted to the endorsement by posting Trump’s statement on her Twitter account along with two words:  “Bring it.”

Hageman on Thursday announced she is running for U.S. Congress and Trump’s endorsement quickly followed.

Choosing to make the initial announcement digitally (on Facebook and on her website), Hageman said Cheney “doesn’t represent Wyoming” and that the state “deserves better.”

“I’m running for Congress because I am a Deep-Rooted Wyomingite who is sick of being misrepresented in Washington. We need a Tough Conservative to stand up against Nancy Pelosi, not help her divide Republicans,” Hageman said.

On Tuesday, she resigned as the state’s national Republican commiteewoman.

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Cheney Opponent Smith Says Visit With Trump Went Well

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

One of the Wyoming Republican U.S. House to visit with former President Donald Trump this week said his meeting went well.

Cheyenne businessman Darin Smith, one of at least two primary challengers to U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney to meet with Trump, said he met with the former president in New Jersey on Tuesday.

“I think it went great,” he told Cowboy State Daily. “We discussed the election, the endorsement, and I gave him the pitch as to why I think we are the campaign to defeat Liz Cheney and take America back.”

Smith is the first candidate from the crowded Republican primary race to confirm he met with Trump, who has announced he will make an endorsement in the race in the next several months.

Trump has been critical of Cheney since she voted to impeach him in connection with the January assault on the Capitol. 

A spokeswoman for one of the other candidates, state Sen. Anthony Bouchard, R-Cheyenne, said last week that Smith and state Rep. Chuck Gray, R-Casper, were invited to meet with Trump in New Jersey. Gray’s campaign could not be reached for comment Thursday.

Prior to his meeting with Trump, Smith commissioned a survey by the Remington Research Group to gauge his support among likely Republican voters in 2022.

The telephone survey showed that of 766 voters polled, 70% would vote for Smith in a head-to-head race against Cheney, while 20% would vote for the incumbent.

“I told my guys I wanted to walk into Trump’s office with a legitimate poll,” Smith said. “That had to be fairly impressive for him to see (the results).”

The survey, with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.3%, also showed that when Gray and Bouchard are taken into consideration, Smith would win votes from 24% of those questioned, while Cheney would 19%, Bouchard wins 18% and Gray wins 14%, the release said.

Smith said the survey showed that if he wins Trump’s endorsement, “we blow out the field.”

On the same day Smith announced the results of his poll, Gray released the results of his own survey, which also showed him as the front-runner for the race.

According to the survey of 300 likely GOP voters conducted by McLaughlin and Associates, 63% of those questioned in telephone and text-to-web interviews would support Gray in a head-to-head match against Cheney, while 24% would vote for Cheney.

Gray’s survey, which had a margin of error of plus or minus 5.6%, showed that in a three-way race between Gray, Cheney and Smith, 25% of those questioned would vote for Gray, while 23% would vote for Cheney and 14% would vote for Smith.

Both surveys indicated that a majority of those questioned — more than 70% — have unfavorable opinions toward Cheney.

In their separate news releases, the two candidates said they were pleased with the results of their surveys.

“I am very encouraged by these polling results,” Smith said. “Liz Cheney is the only representation in Congress Wyoming has, and she has turned her back on us. It’s time to dump Liz and elect someone with genuine pro-Trump, America First, Wyoming values and I know I am that person.”

“It is very clear that Wyoming voters are looking for solid, conservative Trump supporter Chuck Gray to defeat Liz Cheney for Congress,” Gray’s news release said. “These voters want an active, aggressive and unified campaign for Trump supporter Chuck Gray to hold Liz Cheney accountable for her bad vote on impeachment and her current attacks on President Trump on the January 6th committee.”

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Cheyenne Attorney Darin Smith Announces Run For Congress

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

Cheyenne businessman and attorney Darin Smith told Cowboy State Daily on Friday he will run against U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney in the 2022 U.S. House race.

Smith, a Republican, said he sees Cheney as much more vulnerable to a primary challenge than she was in 2016, when he last faced her in an election. He finished fourth in the nine-way GOP primary.

“Obviously, her national stature is going down the tubes,” he said. “She does not share the same world view of the Republican Party.”

Smith said Cheney aligns herself too often with Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and President Joe Biden.

Smith said he has also learned much about campaigning in the last five years.

“Back then (in 2016), my wife Alicia and I were so new at this,” he said. “We didn’t even know how to raise money and run a campaign.”

Smith is a Wyoming native who grew up in Rock Springs and attended the University of Wyoming and UW Law School, representing the university on its wrestling team.

In addition to maintaining his law practice, Smith has also worked as an executive and consultant with nonprofit organizations including the Family Research Council and the Christian Broadcasting Network.

To dedicate his time to his run for office, Smith has resigned from the Family Research Council, which describes itself as a “research and educational organization dedicated to articulating and advancing a family-centered philosophy of public life.”

Smith and his wife Alicia also run a real estate business in Cheyenne, but Smith said he will now work full-time on his congressional race.

Since the race in 2016, Smith has been active in politics, serving as state chairman for Foster Freiss’ gubernatorial campaign in 2018.

Freiss is now Smith’s campaign chair.

Smith also served as the chair of the Laramie County Republican Party in 2017 and 2018.

Cheney has faced some opposition in Washington, D.C., and in Wyoming since voting for the impeachment of former President Donald Trump. The two have traded barbed words ever since.

Cheney is now the Minority Conference Chair in the House, the third-ranking Republican position. However, Minority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisana has spoken in favor of replacing Cheney in the position. Trump has endorsed U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York to replace Cheney.

In Wyoming, Smith will be the fifth candidate to challenge Cheney, two of which are legislators: state Sen. Anthony Bouchard of Cheyenne and Rep. Charles Gray of Casper.

The others are Marissa Joy Selvig of Riverton and Bryan Eugene Keller of Cheyenne.

Despite the fact Cheney has already raised more than $1.5 million for her campaign, Smith said he is confident he can defeat her in the primary.

He noted that Cheney outspent his campaign by 30-1 in 2016.

“If she outspends us by 3-1, I think we can beat her,” he said.

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