CASPER — Amid a record number of minor-party and unaffiliated candidates running in the general elections, the state GOP voted Saturday to no longer recognize Republicans who register to run in elections with another party affiliation.
The rule went into effect immediately.
“As we looked at this, it’s pretty obvious to most of us that if you’re going to run as an independent or Constitution or Libertarian or anything like that, you’re not a Republican anymore,” party member Karl Allred of Uinta County, who made the motion, said at the State Central Committee meeting in Riverton. “If you’re going to be an independent, then you are an independent and we don’t recognize you at this time as a Republican.”
A roster from the secretary of state’s office shows that there are seven independents, seven Libertarians and three Constitution candidates running for legislative seats in the general election.
Secretary of state records show that this is the highest number of minor-party and unaffiliated candidates since 1998, Wyofile reported.
It’s not clear how many of those candidates are also members of the Republican party.
The vote is particularly pointed amid a recent effort by some traditional and moderate-leaning Republicans, as well as some Democrats, to solicit an independent candidate to run against Republican secretary of state nominee Rep. Chuck Gray, R-Casper, in the November elections.
Gray beat out his closest Republican challenger, attorney Sen. Tara Nethercott, R-Cheyenne, by roughly 13,000 votes in the August primary.
He’s focused his primary campaign on getting rid of ballot boxes and rooting out voter fraud and has said that the 2020 presidential election was fraudulent, even though there isn’t evidence that voter fraud was prevalent enough to have changed the outcome of that race.
While supporters see Gray as a champion of election integrity, others see him as a serious threat to fair elections in Wyoming.
The effort to find an independent candidate to challenge Gray ultimately failed.
Since there aren’t any candidates from another party running in the November elections, he’s all but guaranteed to become Wyoming’s next secretary of state.
While the efforts to solicit an independent to challenge Gray has been the most publicized example of this phenomenon in Wyoming’s elections this year, Allred said that there are “several other races across the state” in which people tried to get independents on the ballot to run against Republican candidates who won in the primaries.
The committee was also scheduled to vote on resolutions to censure Sen. Cale Case, R-Lander, partly for his involvement in attempts to find an independent to run against Gray, and denounce a recent vote by the Joint Corporations Committee to draft a bill that would strip some powers from the secretary of state position.
The outcome of those resolutions was not known by the Star-Tribune’s deadline.
This story was published on Sept. 18, 2022.