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Have Democrats Invaded The Wyoming Republican Party?

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Wyoming is a supermajority state;  Republicans make up 86 of the state’s 93 legislators.  But some say Democrats have come looking for soft ground, looking for votes disguised as Republicans.

“The Democratic Party is largely obsolete in the state of Wyoming. And many of the folks that used to occupy the Democratic Party have found their way into the Republican Party,” Sen. Cheri Steinmetz (R-Lingle) said in a recent USA Today article.  “I would like to see people that adhere to their platform.  If you’re going to run as a Republican, then you should govern as a Republican.”

Steinmetz is currently spearheading the push among Wyoming legislators to call for a special session to overturn Governor Mark Gordon’s vetoes.  Steinmetz sees the coming election cycle as a chance for Wyoming Republicans to represent their electorate more honestly.

The Republican primary will be held on August 20th with all of the state’s House and 15 of the state’s Senate seats up for grabs.  Candidates can file their petitions through May 16th, but the state has seen an early surge of announcements from prospective candidates and some surprise resignations too including Sen. Affie Ellis of  Cheyenne, Rep. Fred Baldwin of Kemmerer and Rep. Cyrus Western of Bighorn.

Ellis, the first Native American woman to serve in the legislature, unveiled a quilt at the end of the 2024 legislative session with individualized patches for all 31 state senators. Ellis, Western, the house Majority whip, and Baldwin, head of the Kemmerer fire department, have all indicated that they want to spend more time with their families.

For moderate veterans of the Wyoming political scene, the upcoming cycle feels more like a test of national political trends.  That’s true for Rep. Dan Zwonitzer (R-Cheyenne).

“It’s the same thing that’s happening nationally in the Republican party. The Trumpian mindset is taking over and increasing in the legislature. The difficulty is, it’s a lot of rhetoric and not a lot of substance of reading the bills and collaborating and finding common ground,” Zwonitzer told USA Today.

A professor at Laramie County Community College, Zwonitzer will face a primary challenge from Ann Lucas, a member of the local Republican Party’s central committee.

For some Conservatives, the Cowboy State representatives in Washington have become too soft.  Kathy Russell is the Executive Director of the Wyoming GOP and she has decided to challenge incumbent state Representative Bob Nicholas for House District 7.

“Conservatives are not thrilled with the leadership coming out of the Capitol. It’s all political games and bowing to a Democrat agenda, and not nearly enough of conservative priorities like protecting children, taxpayers, and jobs. I will fight for conservatives,” Russell said in a statement.

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