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. Megan Degenfelder defeated incumbent Brian Schroeder in the GOP primary for state superintendent of public instruction.
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 candidate for state superintendent.
Here's a look at the races for Wyoming's five statewide elected officials:
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.
In a close race, Megan Degenfelder, a former chief policy officer in the education department, defeated incumbent Brian Schroeder in the GOP primary for state superintendent.
Degenfelder, from Laramie, served in the education department under Jillian Balow, who left Wyoming to lead Virginia’s public school system. In her campaign, Degenfelder called for doing “more with less” amid a tight state budget and prioritized funding for classrooms over administration.
Schroeder was appointed state superintendent in January by Gordon to replace Balow. A former head of a private Christian school in Cody, Schroeder ran for the job under the slogan “Wyoming Education - Not Indoctrination.” He promised to “refuse to let our kids become pawns of the social engineers who are hell-bent on grooming them into their relativistic value system.”
Also running was Republican Jennifer Zerba, a Casper substitute teacher who called for more fiscal transparency in schools.
Educator and Northern Arapaho tribal elder Sergio Maldonado was the lone Democrat running for state superintendent.
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.”
Republican Auditor Kristi Racines, of Cheyenne, is unopposed for a second term.
Anderson reported from Denver.
Follow Mead Gruver at https://twitter.com/meadgruver