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Wyoming Republican Party

Another Complaint Against State GOP Filed, Alleges Unfair Enforcement Of Rules

in Wyoming Republican Party/News
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By Leo Wolfson, Cowboy State Daily

A Sheridan County Republican Party member has filed a complaint with the Wyoming Republican Party accusing it of picking and choosing which counties it punishes for rule violations.

Gail Symons formally filed a complaint with the party late last week, accusing it of ignoring four county parties that committed rule violations similar to those that have state GOP officials deciding whether the Laramie County Republican Party will lose most of its state convention delegates.

“That certainly undermines the State Party position of representing Wyoming Republicans,” Symons wrote in her complaint.

The Wyoming Republican Party is holding its convention later this week in Sheridan. During the convention, delegates from the state’s 23 counties will vote on issues such as the party’s platform and favorite candidates in August GOP primary races.

Before the convention, the event’s Credentials Committee will decide most of the delegates from Laramie County — the state’s largest and home to about 30% of the state’s Republicans — will be allowed to take part.

The county party has been accused of several rule violations during its own county meeting in March, including failing to vote for delegates and alternates on a secret ballot and failing to take nominations for delegates from the floor.

But Symons said Laramie County’s possible failure to perform a secret ballot when electing delegates was a “very minor infraction” and said there were other infractions she found in other counties that are not being punished. 

For instance, she said, the Republican parties in Sheridan, Sublette and Albany counties failed to publish notice of their county gatherings in their local newspapers.

In addition, she said, in Sublette County, attendees of the county convention also did not vote on delegates using a secret ballot, and Crook County Republicans failed to notify the county’s clerk of their meeting.

“There is no reason to believe that the violations of by-laws for the five counties, including Laramie County, were a deliberate attempt to circumvent or undermine the integrity of the processes,” Symons said. “A decision to further diminish the validity of the State Convention in carrying out the business of the party on behalf of all Wyoming Republicans through sanctions in excess of the offenses will do significant harm to both Republicans and the party.”

Her statements echo those of Dani Olsen, chair of the Laramie County Republican Party, who told Cowboy State Daily last week that the state GOP’s selective enforcement of rules amounted to “voter fraud” and the disenfranchisement of 20,000 registered Republicans in Laramie County.

However Bryan Miller, chairman of the Sheridan County Republican Party, denied Symons’ claim and said the county party did publish a notice of its meeting. 

“If Ms. Symons, as a Republican Party precinct committeewoman, or for that matter, anyone else who has a problem with the local party, they should feel free to address the issue within the party leadership before putting pen to paper for the world to see,” Miller said. “It would save her the embarrassment of being wrong in the public light – again.”

Roger Connett, Crook County GOP chairman, said Symons never reached out to him to talk to him about this accusation. He said he emailed the clerk as he has done in years past to notify her of the convention, of which he said she attended. 

Although this notification method fulfills the Crook GOP bylaws, it does not meet the state bylaws.

The Credentials Committee will scrutinize the process Laramie County implemented to elect its delegates and will make a recommendation on the matter to all party delegates to rule on before the convention begins.

Martin Kimmet, Park County GOP chairman and a member of the Credentials Committee, said in a phone interview Monday morning he had not even been made aware of Symons’ complaint. 

“People want to write rules and want things their way,” Kimmet said. “You just have to have a set of rules and go by it. I have a real compassion for the delegates from Laramie. They’d like to go to convention. In the same vein, we should make sure things are done right.”

Laramie County has 37 delegates set to attend the convention. If the Credentials Committee decides to do so — and its actions are backed by the rest of the convention’s delegates — it can keep 34 delegates off of the convention floor.

Natrona County is already limited to six delegates — fewer than 20% of its usual turnout — because of an ongoing legal dispute over dues with the Wyoming Republican Party.

Symons said she had received no response to her complaint as of Monday afternoon but had heard it would not be brought up at convention.

Symons is a member of the Frontier Republicans —  a group that bills itself as encouraging integrity, respect and civil discourse in political discussions.

Meanwhile, state GOP Chairman Frank Eathorne, interviewed on the Cowboy State Politics podcast on Monday, accused former members of party leadership of unfairly trying to “lay blame and point a finger on executive leadership.” 

Eathorne said the Credentials Committee is doing its job with the review of Laramie County’s delegates.

“It’s up to the delegates and in this case the Credentials Committee … (to) decide if a delegate or delegation is legitimate or not,” he said.

The party’s executive committee chose to refer the matter to the Credentials Committee after receiving a complaint about the Laramie County GOP process from a party member.

Eathorne wouldn’t make any predictions about what will happen to Laramie County’s delegates at the convention but said due to the focus taking place on election integrity nationally, “this is not a good time to do anything administratively that would appear to rig an election.”

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Wyoming GOP Sued By Former Speaker of House & Others Over Process to Replace Balow

in Frank Eathorne/News
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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

A federal court is being asked to stop Gov. Mark Gordon’s work to appoint a new superintendent of public instruction because of allegations the process used to pick three nominees for the job was unconstitutional.

Sixteen Wyoming residents, including several former legislators, filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court on Tuesday, alleging the selection process to pick nominees for the superintendent’s office failed to properly weight votes based on county population, reducing the influence of counties with larger populations. The lawsuit filed against the Wyoming Republican Party’s central committee and party Chair Frank Eathroen said such a disparity is a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. and Wyoming constitutions.

“The vote by the Wyoming Republican Party, which was supervised and controlled by (Wyoming GOP Chair Frank) Eathorne, was not conducted pursuant to one man one vote principals required by the Wyoming and United States Constitutions,” the lawsuit said.

Republican Jillian Balow resigned from the superintendent of public instruction’s office on Jan. 16 to take a similar job in Virginia. Under Wyoming law, Gordon must appoint someone to finish out her term — which ends in January 2023 — from a list of three nominees forwarded to him by the central committee of the Wyoming Republican Party.

The central committee, during a meeting in Douglas in Saturday, selected former legislator Marti Halverson and educators Brian Schroeder and Thomas Kelly as the three nominees from a field of 12 applicants.

Gordon interviewed the three Tuesday. By law he is supposed to appoint a successor Balow on Thursday, although the lawsuit asks that the process be halted on the grounds that the GOP’s selection process was unconstitutional.

The central committee is made up of three party members from each county, which the lawsuit said gives smaller counties as much weight in voting as large counties, violating the concept of one vote for each person.

“The citizens and voters of any county that is more populous than Wyoming’s smallest county by population, Niobrara County, will be denied their constitutional rights of equal protection under all state and federal laws and the bedrock principle of Wyoming and the United States that all citizens are entitled to the application of one man one vote,” it said.

Because the selection process for the nominees was unconstitutional, Gordon should be halted in his work to appoint a successor to Balow, according to the lawsuit and a request for a temporary restraining order also filed on Tuesday.

The lawsuit asks the court to rule the process used to name the nominees is unconstitutional and to order the state Republican Party not to nominate any candidates for vacancies in statewide or federal office.

The central committee selected the three nominees for the job during a meeting in Douglas on Saturday. Members were asked by one of the people named as a plaintiff in the lawsuit, former legislator and Gillette attorney Tom Lubnau, to change the nomination process to weight votes according to each county’s population.

However, the request was denied and Eathorne responded that the process used by the party Saturday is the same one that has been used to fill vacancies in statewide office for decades.

Pat Crank, a former Wyoming attorney general who filed the lawsuit for the group, told Cowboy State Daily on Tuesday that while the system may have been used in the past, it is now time to make the process comply with the Wyoming and U.S. Constitutions.

“The selection of an important office like superintendent should be done in as fair and as reasonable a method as possible and in absolute compliance with the constitution,” he said. “This process was not and so that’s why my clients wanted to bring a challenge to this process.”

Crank noted that such processes change over time and pointed as an example to the practice of advising a person of his or her right to remain silent after being arrested.

In addition to Lubnau, a former Wyoming House speaker, other plaintiffs to the lawsuit include former legislators Rex Arney and Charles Pekley, former Casper Star-Tribune Publisher Robin Hurless, former University of Wyoming official Chris Boswell, former Star-Tribune Editor Dan Neal and Cheyenne attorney Jack Speight.

Another one of the plaintiffs is Dave Northrup, a former legislator and one of the 12 people who unsuccessfully applied to the GOP to become one of the three nominees for the job.

The group includes both Republicans and Democrats and come from larger counties such as Laramie, Natrona, Campbell and Sheridan, Crank said.

“One of the critical factors in bringing a lawsuit is that you have people that have standing to make appropriate claims,” he said. “I certainly wanted to have a cross-spectrum of both political parties and people from the counties that suffered harm, the more populous counties.”

Arney, a Sheridan attorney, said he joined the lawsuit because he believes the process to replace Balow and other state officers who leave before the end of their term should be handled through a special election.


“I just feel it’s important that when replacing an elected officer, the process should be equivalent to somebody going into a primary or special election where we essentially have one man, one vote,” Arney told Cowboy State Daily on Tuesday. “There should be proportional voting in a case like this.”

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Carbon County GOP Head Pushes For Removing State Laws Governing Political Parties

in Wyoming Republican Party/News
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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

Elimination of the state laws governing the actions of Wyoming’s major political parties would be the best way to return control of the parties to their members, according to a Carbon County Republican Party official.

Joey Correnti IV, chairman of the Carbon County GOP, recently recommended major changes in the way the state’s Republican and Democratic parties operate, including the elimination of primary elections for partisan offices, to give their members more control over the parties.

“There seems to be a misconception that a political party is a branch of government or anything other than a private entity,” he told Cowboy State Daily.

Correnti’s suggestion was included in a letter to Troy Bray, a precinct committeeman in the Park County Republican Party, that was sparked by an email Bray sent to a Republican state senator suggesting that she kill herself and containing obscene references. In Bray’s email, he identified himself as a precinct committeeman in Park County.

Correnti’s letter, which was also sent to Wyoming Republican Party Chairman Frank Eathorne and Park County Republican Party Chairman Martin Kimmett, condemned Bray’s email and asked him to step down from his position, noting that Wyoming law does not contain a provision allowing elected officials to be removed from office for misbehavior

As a possible solution, Correnti suggested the elimination of Wyoming laws that govern how major parties can operate as a way to return the control of those parties to their members.

“I think it’s an absolute tragedy that the major political parties, as private non-governmental entities, don’t have the statutory authority to regulate themselves and their own membership internally …” he wrote.

Those laws spell out items including how party officials will be selected at the precinct, county and state level and how often conventions are to be held. 

Correnti told Cowboy State Daily that eliminating those laws would allow members to have better control of their parties, including the ability to remove elected officials from office.

The major parties would then operate under the laws now governing only minor parties, such as the Green Party, which do not allow for a primary election.

Instead, candidates for a general election would be chosen at local and state gatherings, similar to closed caucuses held in other states, Correnti said.

“A primary election is not a pre-general election,” he said. “It’s a mechanism for a party to select its nominee.”

The change would give the party members at the local level a better chance to select a candidate for the general election who will reflect their beliefs, he said.

“Because the party cannot control its membership, there are nominees who end up on the general election ballot who can say ‘I am a Republican because I say I am’ and cater to voters from outside and then go and execute legislation,” he said. 

Under Correnti’s plan, party members would attend precinct caucuses where policies and recommendations on candidates would be developed, then forwarded for consideration at county-level meetings, followed by discussions during the party’s state convention. Delegates to the state convention would be selected during the county meetings and those delegates would select candidates for general elections.

Primary elections would continue for non-partisan offices, Correnti added.

Such an arrangement would resolve issues such as voter crossover, when voters change parties to vote in the other party’s primary. Also resolved would be debates over whether the state should have a runoff system when no candidate in a primary wins more than half of the votes cast.

“We don’t have to have a primary runoff, it would be something we would take care of at the convention,” he said. “It would help address concerns over crossover voting because being in the party long enough to be a delegate at a convention would be a larger commitment than people want to make.”

The overall system brings the selection of representation closer to the voters at the grassroots level, he added.

“When something is picked at the precinct caucus, ratified at the county level and ratified again at the state convention, that necessarily includes a focus on the grassroots voices,” he said. “The opportunity, especially at that precinct level, is open to anyone who is on the voter rolls as Republican.”

Correnti said he is waiting to forward a formal suggestion to legislators until after they review some other legislation aimed at the primary election system, such as one proposing a runoff system when no candidate in a primary election receives more than half the votes cast.

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Carbon County GOP Chair Condemns Park County Commiteeman For Obscene & Violent Email

in Wyoming Republican Party/News
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By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily

Although the Wyoming Republican Party has remained silent about a violent and obscene email sent by a Park County party official to a sitting Republican state senator, another county party chairman has spoken up against it.

Carbon County GOP Chairman Joey Correnti issued a statement on Tuesday condemning Park County precinct committeeman Troy Bray for the email he wrote to State Sen. Tara Nethercott, R-Cheyenne, in which he suggested she kill herself.

Correnti stopped short of asking Bray to resign but did say he should consider stepping down in favor of someone who is “more prepared to respect the responsibility” of the position in the Park County Republican Party.

Stating that he had “grave concern” over the “vulgar content” of the email, Correnti said the message would not be tolerated by someone outside of the party, therefore it cannot be tolerated from within.

“It is most necessary to actively, immediately, and directly condemn it when it comes from within our own ranks,” Correnti wrote. “We, as a party, cannot stand on principle if those principles are not applied first and foremost within our own party and among our own membership.”

Correnti also took issue with how Bray signed the email. Although Bray said he sent it as a private citizen, he used his title as precinct committeeman.

“The fact that you applied the title and position as an elected representative of the people, whose voices you likely did not get a majority consensus from in order to apply your title to your shameful rant, is especially concerning as it violates the trust vested in you by the people as bearer of the title ‘Precinct Representative” of the Republican Party,” he said.

To date, Bray said he apologized to Nethercott but has declined to resign, stating that he refuses to “be bullied” by what he called “leftists” and “RINO class of scum.”

As it stands, there’s nothing the Republican Party can do to address Bray’s action outside of condemning it.

Last week, Park County GOP chair Martin Kimmet said he was powerless to remove Bray from his position but would welcome efforts by the Wyoming Legislature to provide a process to remove elected officials from office in the future.

Correnti echoed Kimmet’s request calling it an “absolute tragedy” that major political parties can’t “regulate themselves”.

“I personally urge the Wyoming Legislature to pass a bill … returning the internal operations of all political parties in Wyoming back to the membership of the private entitles that political parties actually are,” he said.

Correnti suggested a repeal of the state laws regulating how major political parties are operated.

State Senate President Dan Dockstader, R-Afton, and House Speaker Rep. Eric Barlow, R-Gillette, signaled last week they would support efforts to develop “appropriate statutory means” to remove elected officials for behavior such as Bray’s.


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Natrona County GOP Chides State Republican Party For Attacks On County Clerks

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

Natrona County Republicans are chiding the state Republican Party for criticism of the state’s county clerks for clerical errors.

The party, in a resolution adopted by its central committee Sept. 16, expressed support for clerks and criticized the state party for trying to create the impression there is a problem with Wyoming’s election system.

“(The) Natrona County Republican Party rejects any statement and/or effort by statewide Republican Party leadership which undermines, disparages or otherwise casts doubt upon the Wyoming election process,” said the resolution. “(The) Natrona County Republican Party cannot support the state Republican Party’s efforts to misinform the general public of a problem that does not exist.”

The resolution stems from a review of Laramie County election results conducted by the state GOP, said Dr. Joseph McGinley, a state committeeman for the Natrona County Republican Party.

The review revealed errors in the way the county clerk calculated how many precinct committee people would be elected from some precincts.

Laramie County’s clerk apologized for the error and pledged to put safeguards in place to prevent such problems in the future, but McGinley said members of the state party are attempting to use the error to imply there are widespread problems with the state’s election system.

“I agree, it should be accurate, but we’re all human and mistakes can happen,” he said. “County clerks are hard working individuals … they are very busy and they are doing very good work in the community. To have this kind of unnecessary public attack is unfortunate.”

Rather than announcing the errors publicly, the state GOP should have approached the county clerk herself to raise the issue, McGinley added.

“You don’t … put it out publicly and say they’re doing a bad job,” he said. “That’s not the way you do things and it undermines the integrity of the clerk’s office.”

As a result, Natrona County Republicans felt compelled to issue a statement of support for county clerks and point out that according to Secretary of State Ed Buchanan, there have only been three instances of election fraud in Wyoming since 2000.

“We said ‘We appreciate the way you are doing things in Natrona County and more generally across the state,’” he said. “There are no widespread election irregularities. It’s really commendable that the county clerks have done such a good job over the years.”

The resolution will be submitted to the state Republican Party’s central committee for discussion during its meeting in November.

However, McGinley said because the state party orchestrated the review of Laramie County’s election process, he does not believe the resolution will win the central committee’s approval.

“They’re the ones that arranged the targeted approach to the Laramie County clerk to begin with,” he said. “I believe they won’t be amenable to the approach we took.”

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Wyoming Republican Party Explains Situation Behind $52K FEC Fine

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A $52,000 fine levied against the Wyoming Republican Party by the Federal Election Commission stems from the late reporting of joint fundraising activities with the Republican National Committee and the campaign to elect Donald Trump as president in 2016, the party has announced.

The party has been fully reimbursed for the fine by the Republican National Committee, thanks to the efforts of current Chairman Frank Eathorne, it said in a “status report” published on its website.

“Current Wyoming GOP Chairman W. Frank Eathorne was successful in securing for the Party donated funds to cover the entire civil penalty,” it said. “As a result of his efforts the State Party will not be out any money, having now been made whole.”

In the post, officials explained that the violations occurred in 2016-2017, before the party’s current leadership team was in place.

“The current Wyoming GOP leadership team was surprised to learn in 2017-2018 about an alleged FEC violation that occurred during the previous Republican Party administration,” it said. “Not one of the current leadership team had any knowledge of, or participation in, the decisions leading up to either the joint fundraising agreement or the alleged violation. However, the current Wyoming GOP leadership team was tasked with addressing and resolving the matter.”

The statement said the three reporting errors which occurred over a four-month period happened while Matt Micheli was the party chairman.

The reporting issues arose stemmed from an agreement Micheli entered into with the Republican National Committee and the Trump campaign for joint fundraising activities, which is a common practice among both parties.

Micheli retained a small Utah accounting firm to handle the accounting and reporting obligations under the agreement, and the Wyoming GOP noted that there were both state Democratic and Republican parties who made the same errors as Wyoming in “failing to fully satisfy the specific FEC reporting requirements during the same time frame.”

“Wyoming, in other words, was not alone in the error that was allegedly made,” the party said.

The party has now retained a different accounting firm with extensive experience in campaign finance.

The statement also addressed the party’s fundraising efforts.

“We are also pleased to report that our fundraising has been strong, and we are meeting our financial planning goals. Despite the fact that COVID has hindered our ability over the last year to hold in-person events, we are not only gaining donors, but the average amount donated by each has increased,” it said. “Our numbers for 2021 compare favorably to past years, and we have every expectation that the donations will continue. We are a grassroots organization supported by grassroots conservatives who understand the importance of what we do.”

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Wyoming GOP Rejects Complaint About Uinta GOP Elections

in Wyoming Republican Party/News
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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

The Uinta County Republican Party did nothing wrong when it allowed party officers to vote in an annual election for party leaders, according to the Wyoming Republican Party.

The Wyoming GOP Central Committee rejected a complaint filed by Jon Conrad against the elections held in March to elect new leadership for the county party.

Conrad alleged officers in the county’s party were allowed to vote in the election even though such action is not allowed under state law.

But the Wyoming Republican Party’s Central Committee, during a meeting May 4, disagreed with Conrad’s position, voting 48-2 to accept the results of a party investigation that showed no party rules or state laws had been violated.

“The (State Central Committee) voted … in favor of accepting the conclusions of the Investigative Committee that state and Uinta County bylaws both authorize county officers to vote on matters before the county central committee and neither the information provided nor the Wyoming statutes cited supported Mr. Conrad’s assertion,” the state party said in a prepared statement on its website.

The challenge stems from a dispute over the election of party officers during the county central committee meeting March 16.

A county central committee is made up of people elected from a county to serve as a committeeman or committeewoman. That group elects a county party chairman and a man and woman to serve as members of the state central committee.

According to a lawsuit filed against the Uinta County Republican Party, the county’s central committee has 36 members, but 40 people were allowed to cast votes. The lawsuit alleged the four extra voters were not precinct committee men or women, having lost their efforts to win those posts in the last primary election.

The lawsuit also alleged the four voters cast votes for themselves to serve in the county party’s top positions, which they now hold.

The dispute led to a formal complaint being filed with the attorney general’s office in addition to the Wyoming Republican Party. The attorney general’s office declined to take up the issue.

Action on the lawsuit is pending in state district court.

According to the GOP’s statement, four state central committee members abstained from voting on the Investigative Committee’s report. The four were not identified.

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Joe McGinley: You Are The Solution To Political Extremism

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By Dr. Joseph McGinley
Dr. McGinley served as chairman of the Natrona County from March 2017 – March 2021

My name is Dr. Joseph McGinley. I have served as the Chairman of the Natrona County Republican Party (NCRP) for the past 4 years and as Vice Chairman the 4 years prior. Over this time, I have witnessed the implosion of the Wyoming Republican Party (WRP) and many of the County Republican Parties across our great state.

Over the past 4 years, there have been several physical altercations at WRP events, corrupt elections, verbal attacks, voting manipulation, secret investigations, negative national news stories, support of conspiracy theories, smear campaigns against our own elected officials, lawsuits against the WRP, support of out of state Republican officials being investigated for sexual activities and a general lack of decency.

The response of many good Republicans has been to say, “That’s not what I believe in so I’m not going to participate”. This approach however is exactly how we ended up in this situation.

When I was elected Chairman in Natrona County, we were on the brink of extremism. My position was immediately challenged by the extremists, and they even attempted to hold their own meeting to appoint a new chairman. Fortunately, those elected to serve spoke up, reaffirmed my elected position and from that point forward the NCRP focused on building a positive organization based on our values, principles, and constitutional commitment.

We have seen unprecedented success in our county. In the past 4 years, we have had a 100% success rate electing Republicans, seen the largest number of people volunteer as precinct representatives, engaged the young members of our community, volunteered at community events; but most importantly, held true to our values and did not compromise for personal gain.

The extremism we are currently witnessing in the WRP is the result of apathy. True Wyoming Republicans are currently sitting on the sidelines, too disgusted and embarrassed to participate.

The problem however is not our great Republican Party, the problem is those currently in power have twisted the meaning of being Republican. They are willing to name call, lie, manipulate, intimidate and bully to maintain their small sliver of power. However, there is hope, you are the solution to this problem!

This is a call to action! I ask you to stand up and say, “NO” to extremism! I did just that 4 years ago and this encouraged many others to do the same. Good conservative Republicans said “NO” to extremism. We pointed out the hypocrisy and for our efforts, we have been attacked for our voice of consciousness. I personally have been censured by the WRP three times for nothing more that speaking up and speaking out.

However, we did not back down, these attacks just reaffirmed our purpose. The current positive approach and message of the NCRP is the result of many people volunteering many hours to make our community a better place for everyone. We believe in the voice of the individual, we believe in actions over words, we believe in our constitution, and most importantly we believe your participation matters!

Now is the time to act, we need your help. We need good people in every county to speak up. Join our efforts today for we are a volunteer group of Republicans focused on restoring integrity, honor, and respect to the Wyoming Republican Party.

Our group of Wyoming Republicans welcomes your opinion and voice. Our goal is to embrace differences, speak up against bullying, encourage conversations, listen to others, support those in need, offer hope, create opportunity and be respectful of diverse opinions. As Republicans, we believe in the voice of the individual. As Republicans, we will fight for everyone’s right to an opinion, even when, or ESPECIALLY when, we disagree.

Our values teach us to lead by actions and not by words. Now is your time to be part of the solution and better your community. Now is the time for you to open your heart and offer a listening ear to those who have been led astray by the temptations of anger, fear, and deceit. Do not be led down the path of extremism due to false temptations. Instead, engage in conversation with your colleagues about the issues.

Your voice matters and only YOU can make a difference. If we eliminate apathy, we will overcome extremism!

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Lawsuit: Uinta County GOP Leaders Voted Illegally

in Wyoming Republican Party/News
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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

A dispute over the election of Uinta County Republican Party officials has moved into the courtroom with the filing of a lawsuit alleging that the party’s new chairman and other officials were improperly allowed to vote for themselves.

Seven GOP members, including two current and one former legislator, are suing the county party, its current chair, its past chair and its state committeeman and committeewoman, asking that the election that put the officers in place in March be declared void.

“Allowing the Uinta County Republican Party to disregard state statute by granting voting privileges to whomever they so desire, need, or wish to vote, in an obvious, blatant and brazen effort to maintain power among a dynastic group of exclusive individuals, is a violation of the (state) election code, which precludes those who are not qualified to vote in order to properly preserve election integrity and to prevent election fraud and corruption,” said the lawsuit filed April 16 in state district court in Evanston.

But Elizabeth “Biffy” Jackson, elected chairwoman of the party during the March meeting, denied the allegations.

“The 2021 Uinta County leadership elections were held under the exact same rules as all elections in the past, as far back as anyone currently involved can remember and in strict accordance with the bylaws governing them,” she said in a letter to the editor of the Uinta County Herald.

The lawsuit stems from a dispute over the election of party officers during the party central committee’s meeting on March 16.

Under state law, each county party’s central committee is made up of committeemen and committeewomen elected from their precincts during each primary election. During meetings on odd-numbered years, the county committees elect a chairman and state committeeman and committeewoman. The committeeman and committeewoman, along with the party chair, represent the county at meetings of the state central committee.

The lawsuit, filed by attorney Dale Cottam, said while Uinta County recognizes 36 central committee members, 40 people were allowed to cast votes at the committee’s March 16 meeting by Lyle Williams, who was the committee’s chair at the time.

The extra four voters were Williams, wife Jana Lee Williams, daughter Elizabeth Jackson and close friend Karl Allred, the lawsuit said, adding all four were allowed to vote even though they were not precinct committeemen or committeewomen and as such not members of the central committee.

“The improper and illegal allowance of these four individual defendants to vote resulted in the election of … Mrs. Jackson as the county chairman, … Mr. Allred as state committeeman, and … Mrs. Williams as state committeewoman,” said a brief filed in support of the lawsuit.

The lawsuit said all four lost their campaigns to serve as precinct committeemen and committeewomen during the state’s August 2020 primary election.

It also alleged that the four were allowed to vote despite advice to the contrary by Uinta County Clerk Amanda Hutchinson.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Jon Conrad, a committee member who ran for the chairman’s position, state Sen. Wendy Schuler, R-Evanston, Rep. Danny Eyre, R-Lyman, former Rep. Ron Micheli and county central committee members Clarence Vranish, Clara Jean Vranish and Troy Nolan.

The lawsuit asks the court to declare the elections null and void, to order new election to select officers and to rule that Jana Williams, Jackson and Allred take no action in the positions “they now improperly purport to hold.”

The lawsuit said it is important that the court move quickly because of the role Jackson, Jana Williams and Allred could play in the State Central Committee of the Wyoming Republican Party.

“Time is of the essence as the State Central Committee will take its first official action on May 14 … to elect a state party chair and other leadership positions,” said a brief filed in support of the lawsuit. “These improperly and illegally selected representatives from Uinta County could represent each of the county central committee members and each registered Republican in the county if the court does not act quickly.”

However, in her letter published April 14, Jackson accused those opposing the outcome of the March meeting of attempting to “unseat the long-standing leadership of the party and replace them with new officers.”

“Failing by a narrow margin to do so, they have resorted to misguided and dishonest attempts to get their way by circumventing the electoral process,” she wrote.

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Wyoming GOP Denounces Violent Acts Before Biden’s Inauguration

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

The Wyoming Republican Party denounced violent protests and acts on Wednesday, two weeks after a mob of people stormed the U.S. Capitol.

The party, in a statement released Tuesday, vowed not to engage in violent activity anywhere, although the statement singled out Wednesday’s inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden.

“We denounce violent protests and acts in the strongest of terms, just like conservatives did during the riots that we have been witness to since last summer,” the statement said. “Neither the Wyoming Republican Party nor any of its members have any plans to engage in violent activity. Not on January 20th, and not ever. Not in Washington, D.C., nor elsewhere.”

There have been some concerns about a second round of violent acts in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, due to Biden taking office.

On Jan. 6, thousands of supporters of outgoing President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol building as Congress prepared to certify the Electoral College results. Five people died during the riot.

The party’s statement said conservatives have no interest in taking part in such actions.

“Our Party has never been about achieving goals through violence,” the Wyoming Republican Party said. “The conservatives we know are too busy doing their jobs, running their businesses, and raising their families, to plan and engage in violence.”

The group added that the Democratic Party and the media refused to denounce violence that occurred last summer during demonstrations held to protest killing of George Floyd, a Black man, by a police officer who kneeled on his neck for nearly nine minutes.

The Wyoming GOP also questioned whether or not the “violent conservative” narrative is being pushed forward by “leftist groups encouraging them to engage in pre-planned violent acts so that the Republican Party can be blamed.”

The Wyoming GOP has previously said that the media rushed in its judgment to identify the Capitol rioters as Trump supporters.

“The Wyoming Republican Party will continue to live under the banner that ‘the pen is mightier than the sword,'” the group said. “Rights given by God cannot be taken from us by government. We will stand on our God-given freedom to PEACEABLY exercise free speech, as outlined in the U.S. Constitution, and advocate for a better tomorrow. We will continue to speak, even when some deem our positions unpopular, twist our words, and attempt to shame or intimidate us into silence.”

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Opinion: Gov Gordon & AG Hill Should Join Texas Lawsuit

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Guest column by the Wyoming Republican Party

The Wyoming Republican Party urges Governor Mark Gordon and Attorney General Bridget Hill to join the lawsuit filed by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton against those battleground states that made numerous unlawful changes to their election and voting procedures prior to November 3rd.

As stated in this morning’s press release from AG Paxton’s office,
“The four states exploited the COVID-19 pandemic to justify ignoring federal and state election laws and unlawfully enacting last-minute changes, thus skewing the results of the 2020 General Election. … “ The battleground states flooded their people with unlawful ballot applications and ballots while ignoring statutory requirements as to how they were received, evaluated and counted.

‘Trust in the integrity of our election processes is sacrosanct and binds our citizenry and the States in this Union together.

Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin destroyed that trust and compromised the security and integrity of the 2020 election.

The states violated statutes enacted by their duly elected legislatures, thereby violating the Constitution.

By ignoring both state and federal law, these states have not only tainted the integrity of their own citizens’ vote, but of Texas and every other state that held lawful elections,’ said Attorney General Paxton. ‘

Their failure to abide by the rule of law casts a dark shadow of doubt over the outcome of the entire election. We now ask that the Supreme Court step in to correct this egregious error.’

In short, the overwhelming body of evidence shows that these rogue states unlawfully changed election laws, thereby opening up opportunities for election fraud.

This is not a Donald Trump issue, this issue impacts all American states. Immediate action must be taken by all Governors, including the Gordon administration, to address this existential threat to the future of our Republic.

Texas shouldn’t be standing alone; too much is at stake. Governor Gordon values the Constitution. We stand with him and ask that he join forces with Governors and Attorneys General across the nation to defend the Constitution.

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Jonathan Lange: “I Was There. The ‘Right Wing’ Did Not Hijack The GOP Convention”

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By Jonathan Lange, Columnist

The musical, Hamilton, tells the story of the founding father depicted on the ten-dollar bill. Alexander Hamilton’s contributions to America are nothing short of amazing—both in their diversity and in their lasting impact.

Among Hamilton’s many accomplishments: he was the principal author of the Federalist Papers. These documents were written after the Constitutional Convention of 1887 to persuade the people of New York to ratify the Constitution it had crafted.

Hamilton penned 51 of the 85 papers in only six months. They are the best interpretive guide to the U.S. Constitution that we have. If the musical, Hamilton, does nothing more than to revive an interest in the Federalist Papers, our state and country will be the winners.

Ignorance of these papers and of the Constitution they defend renders voters impotent to hold elected officials to account for their violations of constitutional principles. Without this tool, they can only watch helplessly as the promise of America fades away from their children and grandchildren.

As Wyoming approaches the August primaries, it would be great to hear questions about the Federalist Papers asked at candidate forums. The Federalist Papers, like the U.S. Constitution they defend, are not on the fringes of American life; they are at its very core. Candidates should be expected to know and agree with their principles.

The Constitution is as centrist as it gets. No one should be labeled “extreme right-wingers” for taking time to know our common foundation and defending it against perversions. Both the Right and the Left of the political spectrum ought to stand for the Federalist Papers.

That would be a giant step forward from the petty bickering and identity politics that characterize most of today’s political discourse. Consider the press coverage of the recent Wyoming Republican Party convention.

For the past three weeks, we have been treated to a steady stream of misrepresentations of the convention’s happenings. A few of the delegates who voted with the minority on key issues have received extremely disproportionate representation in the press.

Stories and opinion pieces, written by people whom I never saw at the convention, have flipped the narrative. Almost every vote was decided by a near-70 percent majority. This is anything but a small cadre from the “radical right.” Those peddling the narrative that some “far-right party leadership” hijacked the convention are lying to you.

The delegates and the delegates alone guided the conventions decisions. First, they ratified the election results from the May 9, 2020 online convention. Second, they adopted a platform that embodies the constitutional principles laid  out in the Federalist Papers. Third, they clarified that donations intended to support this constitutional platform should go to candidates who actually support it.

If any delegate could show that the GOP platform did not faithfully represent constitutional principles, the convention would have gladly adopted any improvements needed. That deep desire to uphold and support the Constitution and the principles of Hamilton, Madison and Jay characterized the entire convention.

Those who portray this desire as, somehow, “right-wing” should be ashamed of themselves, as should those who spread lies in the media and level personal attacks against party leadership. Open and honest debate on constitutional principles would elevate public discourse. Hiding policy disagreements by incessant personal attacks does not.

One major theme of Hamilton, the musical, centers on the question: Who tells your story? Much hinges on this question. The enemies of Hamilton sought to tell his story in the worst light possible. Aaron Burr first made a personal attack on his reputation. Eventually, Burr killed him in a duel. But Hamilton’s wife, Elizabeth, told his true story.

It is amazing how a man so instrumental in the formation of the American republic came so close to being lost to history. Had it not been for Elizabeth’s dogged determination to gather the facts and tell her husband’s story, this amazing man and the principles that he stood for may never have been known to our generation.

The same goes for the principles and people of our day. It is not enough to know the truth and keep it to yourself. We are all responsible for telling the story. Just because one narrative is told with a megaphone does not make that story true. The powerful and dominating enemies of Hamilton could not ultimately defeat the story that his faithful wife told.

Elizabeth’s voice was small but it was true and steady. Americans know the face of Hamilton and carry his picture in their wallet in large part because of Elizabeth’s voice.

We can honor her work by studying the Constitution that he helped to create. We can advance his cause by telling the true stories of those who labor to uphold Hamilton’s principles still today.

Website ranks 60 percent of Wyoming Republicans legislators as RINOs

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By Ike Fredregill, Cowboy State Daily

An anonymous website created by an unknown organization has judged 60 percent of the Legislature’s Republicans to be “Republicans in Name Only.”

Using voting records on 10 bills from the 2019 Legislative Session, during which legislators reviewed hundreds of pieces of legislation, www.wyoRINO.com assigned percentages values to the votes cast by each Republican member of the Wyoming House and Senate. If a  legislator did not toe the party line on at least seven of the 10 bills, their names were highlighted in red to indicate RINO status. The website attributes its creation to Ride for the Brand, Wyoming, a political organization Wyoming Republican Party Chairman Frank Eathorne said he didn’t know existed.

“This is nothing new, though,” Eathorne said. “We’ve seen other interest groups put out their opinions, ranking and analysis.”

The Wyoming Republican Party website on Nov. 11 published a clarification stating it has no affiliations with other individuals, organizations, groups or publications. 

“The party makes it positions known through its platform and planks adopted at its State Convention,” the website states. 

Nearly verbatim, the wyoRINO website also states its independence, following the declaration with a caveat specifying that  Ride for the Brand, Wyoming, reserves the right to revise its opinions and conclusions.

While Eathorne said wyoRINO was not a product of the party, he said there was no problem with the website claiming to represent party ideals. 

“It’s fine that they tie to the timeless principles of the Republican Party,” he explained. “But, we need to continue to clarify the WYGOP does not engage in that.”

Of the 77 listed Republicans, 46, about 60 percent, were labeled RINOs, while only 10 scored perfect rankings.

“They proved exactly the opposite of what they were hoping,” said Sen. Michael Von Flatern, R-Gillette. “They proved there’s very few ‘true’ Republicans.”

The site rated Von Flatern at 30 percent.

“(Smear campaigns have) come up about three times for me — about every four years around election time,” he said. “The ultra-conservatives are behind this site. They’re not inclusive. If you are gay or a little different than their conservative, Bible-thumping group, you are less of a person. You are a threat to them.”

Von Flatern said though he had suspicions, he wasn’t sure who created the website. He added he’s never heard of Ride for the Brand.

Wyoming. Sen. Tom James, R-Rock Springs, received a ranking of 100 percent and hosts a personal web page with several similarities to www.wyoRINO.com, but said he was not involved with the website.  

“I don’t rate other legislators, I just put out the spread sheets with the votes,” James said. “I think it’s good there’s outside people getting involved. I always feel that more data is better, but I think the website is a good start.”

Republicans may not see eye to eye on every topic, but he said if their voting record dips below 70 percent — the ratio of votes in line with published Republican values — they are lying about their affiliation.

“That speaks for the lack of integrity of the official,” James said. “If they are lying to the people — ‘I’m going to vote this way’ — then they don’t do it, that’s on the elected official.”

James said he was not familiar with Ride for the Brand, Wyoming.

While Gov. Mark Gordon was not available for comment, his office responded to an interview request via email. 

“The Governor doesn’t believe that an anonymous website with ‘rankings’ based on a small sampling of votes is an accurate way to characterize legislators’ beliefs,” wrote Michael Pearlman, Gordon’s communications director.

In Brief: Republicans choose Steinmetz for Committeeman

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Wyoming Republicans have a new National Committeeman. Corey Steinmetz of Lingle won a five-man race for the job on Saturday. 

State Party Chairman Frank Eathorne said of the election, “Corey Steinmetz is a multiple term county chairman and has been an active leader in the Wyoming Republican Party for years.  He was elected due to the members’ beliefs in his devotion to the timeless principles of the Republican Party.  I join National Committeewoman Marti Halverson in welcoming Corey to the team.”

The National Committeeman, National Committeewoman, and State Party Chair are the three voting members of the Republican National Committee from Wyoming. The RNC is responsible for setting the GOP platform, as well as fundraising and election strategy for the Republican presidential nominee.

Income tax, party switching dead, lodging tax alive

in News/Taxes/Criminal justice
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By Cowboy State Daily

The last of three bills that would have put restrictions on when voters can change party affiliations was among a number to die this week as the Legislature neared the end of its general session.

Legislators looking to wrap up their general session by Wednesday put in long hour this week finishing their work on a number of bills, eliminating several controversial measures.

HB 106 was the last of three bills that would have set time limits for people to change party affiliation. It would have set a deadline of May 1 for such changes. It was defeated in a 14-11 vote in its first Senate review.

Another bill killed would have imposed an income tax on large retail companies headquartered outside of Wyoming. HB 220 died without getting a review in a Senate committee.

Moving ahead, however, was a bill that would set a statewide lodging tax of 5 percent. HB 66 is set for a final vote in the Senate on Monday.

Approved with significant changes by the Senate was a bill originally designed to create a felony crime for animal abuse. HB 235 was amended to remove all language about the felony crime.

In Brief: Party switching bill clears Senate committee

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Wyoming party switching bill
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By Cowboy State Daily

People wishing to change their party affiliations for a primary election would have to do so by May 1 under a bill that won approval from a Senate committee on Tuesday.

The Senate Agriculture Committee approved HB 106 on a vote of 4-1, sending it to the floor for review by the full Senate.

The bill has been changed a number of times since being introduced and the committee on Tuesday changed it again. Under amendments approved by the committee, Republicans or Democrats wishing to change parties would have to do so by May 1. Independents wishing to join a major party would have to do so no later than two week before a primary. Current Wyoming law allows people to change party affiliation at the polls on the day of a primary election. That practice would no longer be allowed.

In Wyoming’s last election, the secretary of state’s office reported more than 12,000 people changed party affiliation. The Wyoming Republican Party has made placing time restrictions on such changes a priority for the Legislature.

Representatives approve their version of party switching bill

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Wyoming party switching bill
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By Cowboy State Daily

One of the two measures aimed at limiting when voters can change their party affiliation won final approval from the House on Wednesday.

HB 106 was approved in a vote of 41-18, send the bill to the Senate for its review.

The bill would make voters who want to switch their party affiliations do so no later than two weeks before a primary election. It would also eliminate the option for voters to switch parties on the day of a primary election.

A Senate version of the bill won its final Senate approval on Tuesday. While the bills are similar, SF 160 has different deadlines for party switching — it would have to be done at least two weeks before the Secretary of State’s office sends absentee ballots for a primary election to voters. Those ballots are usually sent in mid-June.

Party switching bill clears second Senate reading

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By Cowboy State Daily

A bill that would limit when Wyoming voters can change their party affiliation moved one step nearer to final Senate approval on Monday.

SF 160 was approved in its second reading in the Senate, moving it to a third and final Senate vote on Tuesday.

The bill would require that any voter changing party affiliation do so two weeks before absentee ballots are mailed out for a primary election — generally in mid-June.

Under current law, voters can change affiliation at the polls during a primary election. The state Republican party had made a change in the system a priority for the Legislature’s general session.

Supporters maintain political party members should stick to their own parties rather than try to influence the outcome of another party’s primary.

“Party affiliations were there to engage in those things that we agree upon,” said Sen. Lynn Hutchings, R-Cheyenne. “When someone comes in to say ‘Hey, I’m going to pick your leader’ that doesn’t belong to our party, it’s never good.”

Opponents unsuccessfully argued that such limits on registration would discourage voter participation.

“Trying to get more people to vote should be what we’re trying to do,” said Sen. Mike Gierau, D-Jackson. “To limit how you can register, when you can register is a short-circuit to closing down the process.”

A similar bill that would have required affiliation changes to be made by May died in the Senate last week.

Updated February 4, 2019 at 7PM.

Weekly wrap: Corporate income tax moves ahead, party switch bill dead

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By Cowboy State Daily

A thumbs up for income taxes on large companies and putting Wyoming permanently on daylight savings time, a thumbs down for a personal income tax in the Legislature this week.

Lawmakers wrapped up their third week of action Friday after having taken care of a number of bills, including HB 233, which would have imposed a 4 percent income tax on people making more than $200,000 a year. The bill died in the House Revenue Committee, but another, imposing a 4 percent income tax on large retailers with headquarters outside of Wyoming, won final approval in the House. HB 220, also called the National Retail Fairness act, now heads to the Senate for review.

A bill that would have put restrictions on when voters can change their party affiliation was also killed this week, dying in the Senate Corporations Committee. SF 32 would have required people changing party affiliation to do so before candiates begin filing for office in May. Two similar bills are awaiting review in the House and Senate.

Also killed this week was a bill aimed at exempting some senior citizens from property taxes. HB 128 would have granted an exemption to seniors who have owned their homes for at least three years.

Meanwhile, a bill to declare Dec. 10 2019 as “Wyoming Women’s Suffrage Day” cleared the Senate with no opposition. SJ 3 now moves to the House for its review.

In addition, a bill keeping Wyoming on daylight savings time year-round won approval in its second House vote.

Party switching bill could be revived

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Voting day sign and stickers
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By Cowboy State Daily

A bill that would limit when voters can change their party affiliations may be resurrected. SF 32 was killed by the Senate Corporation, Elections and Political Subdivisions Committee on Tuesday, but the committee’s chairman said he’ll bring the issue back up for another vote.

There is enough interest on the Senate floor to justify moving the bill out of the committee, said Sen. Bill Landen, R-Casper.

Under current law, voters can change their party affiliations on the day of a primary election. SF 32 would allow changes only before candidates begin filing for office — usually in early May.

Landen said there was not a lot of discussion on the bill in committee. He added he believes many members of the full Senate would like to review it.

Landen said he plans to bring the issue back to the committee on Thursday to see if members will approve it for more debate.

Measure restricting changes in voter affiliation killed in committee

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Silhoutte of vote being cast into box, ALT=voter, voter affiliation
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By Cowboy State Daily

A measure to restrict when voters can change their party affiliations was narrowly defeated in a Senate committee Tuesday.

Senate File 32 would have prevented voters from changing party affiliation after candidates begin filing for office — usually in early May.

Under current law, a voter can change his or her affiliation at the polls on the day of the primary election.

Some 12,500 Wyoming voters changed their party affiliations prior to last year’s primary election. The state’s Republican Party, expressing concern about how such switches might affect a party’s primary, made a bill to restrict such switching a priority.

The bill died on a vote of 3-2 in the Senate Corporations, Elections and Political Subdivisions Committee.

Party switch bill gets first committee review

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By Cowboy State Daily

A bill that would put limits on when voters can change their party affiliations got mixed reviews Thursday in its first session in a Senate committee.

The Senate Corporations, Elections and Political Subdivisions Committee began its work on SF 32, which would require voters changing party affiliation to do so before the filing period opens for political candidates — usually in May.

Currently, voters can change their affiliations as late as the day of the primary. In last year’s election, the Secretary of State’s office reported an estimated 12,500 voters changed their party affiliations.

After last year’s primary election, Wyoming Republicans made the issue of party switching a top priority.

Frank Eathorne, Wyoming Republican Party chairman, said the bill would make sure political parties can select their own nominees without interference.

“It’s about party integrity,” he said. “Parties are not governmental entities. We are private entities. And we have that destiny in our hands and that decision making is up to us.”

However, Nina Herbert, communications director for the Wyoming Democratic Party, said voters need to be given the chance to vote for the candidate they feel is best suited for office, regardless of party affiliation.

“The Wyoming Democratic Party supports open elections that are easily accessible to every eligible voter,” she said. “Jut throwing up another roadblock on party affiliation changes is not going to accomplish that.”

The committee was unable to complete its work on the bill Thursday and will continue its review next week.

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