Gov. Gordon wins Wyoming GOP primary in bid for 2nd term

Gun Rights

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — Gov. Mark Gordon has a clear path to reelection after winning the Republican primary in Wyoming on Tuesday, while state Rep. Chuck Gray won the GOP primary for secretary of state. A competitive state superintendent of public instruction primary featured Republicans Megan Degenfelder and Brian Schroeder but was too early to call.

Democrats, meanwhile, have all but ceded these offices to Republicans, fielding just two candidates who don’t even have websites for governor and just one Democratic candidate running for state superintendent.

Here’s a look at the races for Wyoming’s five statewide elected officials:

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GOVERNOR

Gordon had faced fierce opposition within the GOP for public health measures to limit the spread of the coronavirus, causing speculation he’d face a tough primary challenge. He didn’t, after lifting a statewide mask mandate and other coronavirus restrictions.

Last year, Gordon urged the National Rifle Association to move its headquarters from Virginia to Wyoming. In March, he signed a ban on most abortions that briefly took effect a month after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and is now on hold pending a lawsuit contesting the ban. Both moves helped buttress Gordon’s right-wing credentials.

And while Gordon hasn’t gone out of his way to praise Donald Trump, neither has he criticized the former president’s fixation on the false belief that fraud cost him reelection in 2020, which as U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney discovered may have courted a serious primary challenge.

Gordon on Tuesday defeated Brent Bien, a retired U.S. Marine Corps colonel who oversaw operations in Guam. Bien, of Sheridan, campaigned in part on questioning Gordon’s coronavirus restrictions.

Also running Tuesday were Rex Rammell, of Rock Springs, a veterinarian and perennial, unsuccessful candidate for various offices in Idaho and Wyoming, and Douglas oilfield services business owner and Marine veteran James Scott Quick, who ran on protecting the state’s energy industry.

Retired U.S. Bureau of Land Management employee Theresa Livingston, of Worland, defeated retired cabinetmaker and perennial candidate Rex Wilde, of Cheyenne, in their race for the Democratic nomination for governor.

SECRETARY OF STATE

State Rep. Chuck Gray defeated Sen. Tara Nethercott in the GOP race to replace Wyoming Secretary of State Ed Buchanan, who is leaving his post after Gordon appointed him to become a state District Court judge.

A former political radio commentator who’s the son of a Casper radio station owner, Gray has proven one of Wyoming’s most Trump-like legislators since his election to the state House in 2016.

Gray ran briefly for U.S. House in 2021, railing against Cheney after she voted to impeach the former president for the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection. He visited Arizona to see and be seen at a recount of the 2020 presidential vote in that state.

Gray abandoned his congressional campaign after failing to get Trump’s endorsement. Trump did endorse his candidacy for secretary of state.

As Wyoming’s No. 2 state official, the secretary of state oversees elections and business licensing.

Nethercott is a Cheyenne attorney who has served in the state Senate since 2017 and chairs the chamber’s Judiciary Committee. Like Gray, she made “election integrity” a campaign focus. Nethercott also promised to keep state business administration fees low.

STATE SUPERINTENDENT

The GOP primary between Schroeder and Degenfelder was too early to call, with Degenfelder holding an early lead.

Schroeder, former head of a private Christian school in Cody, became state superintendent in January when Gordon chose him from three finalists nominated for the job by the state GOP.

He succeeded Jillian Balow, who left Wyoming to lead Virginia’s public school system.

Schroeder was running for the job under the slogan “Wyoming Education – Not Indoctrination.” He promises to “refuse to let our kids become pawns of the social engineers who are hell-bent on grooming them into their relativistic value system.”

Degenfelder, from Laramie, was chief policy officer under Balow. Degenfelder calls for doing “more with less” amid a tight state budget and prioritizing funding for classrooms over administration.

Also running is Republican Jennifer Zerba, a Casper substitute teacher and University of Wyoming doctoral student in education who advocates more fiscal transparency and volunteering in schools.

Educator and Northern Arapaho tribal elder Sergio Maldonado is the lone Democrat running for state superintendent.

STATE TREASURER

Incumbent Republican Curt Meier defeated Bill Gallop, a Cheyenne-based investment officer for the Wyoming Retirement System.

Meier, endorsed by Trump for a second term, is a former state legislator with a farm and ranch in the LaGrange area. Meier said the state treasurer’s office had beaten its investment benchmarks in his first term and that he’d helped to expand access to low-income housing.

Gallop had criticized Wyoming’s state investments under Meier for lagging behind U.S. stock market returns, calling them on his website a “broken engine with seven of eight cylinders busted.”

STATE AUDITOR

Republican Auditor Kristi Racines, of Cheyenne, is unopposed for a second term.

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Anderson reported from Denver.

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Follow Mead Gruver at https://twitter.com/meadgruver

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