JACKSON—The two candidates for Wyoming Republican Party chairman played nice on Saturday after Frank Eathorne, the current chair, delivered a 49-25 drubbing to his challenger, Frank Moore.
“I think it was good,” Moore told WyoFile about his unsuccessful bid for one of the most powerful political posts in Wyoming. “It was good for me. I think it was good for Frank [Eathorne]. I think it was good for the [Wyoming GOP] Central Committee.”
Eathorne, who’s been the party’s chairman for five years, was equally amicable in the moments after he was elected to another two-year term guiding a party he’s steered further to the right as leader.
“Frank Moore is serious competition, and it’s healthy to have challengers,” Eathorne said. “It sharpens the ideas, the discussion and decision making.”
Eathorne’s tenure has been marked by infighting that’s depleted the state party’s finances and a growing chasm within conservative circles as the far-right element of the GOP made significant gains in the Wyoming Legislature. The resounding victory, he told WyoFile, suggests that the path he’s charted is the correct path.
“Basically it’s a 2-to-1 mandate,” Eathorne said. “I’m going to be listening to that majority. The Founding Fathers set forth the principle for this nation that you listen to the minority, but you must follow the will of the majority.”
Any doubt that Eathorne would win over the balance of the Wyoming Republican Party Central Committee’s 74 members evaporated earlier in the day, when the current vice-chairman, Dave Holland, won reelection over his challenger, Sweetwater County GOP Chair Elizabeth Bingham, by a 49-25 margin. While the rolls for the party’s election are not publicized, the duplication in the vote margin suggests there were no defectors who split their ballots.
Moore and Bingham ran as a slate, and recent county party election results caused many to believe their challenge to the current party establishment might work. In Uinta County, for example, party voters tossed out their entire far-right slate of leaders, including Chair Elisabeth “Biffy” Jackson, State Committeeman Karl Allred and State Committeewoman Jana Williams. Their replacements included Chairman Joy Bell, Committeeman Ron Micheli and Committeewoman Patty Micheli.
Allred, a former interim secretary of state who came to Jackson’s Virginian Lodge to watch the GOP’s Central Committee’s meeting Saturday, said he was confident the trio would support Moore and Bingham. Still, he anticipated the status quo to prevail — and it did by a margin that exceeded his expectations.
Moore, a Converse County rancher who runs sheep, served two terms in the Wyoming Legislature three decades ago. He was asked to put his name in for the GOP chair post “half a dozen times” over the last 15 years, he said. Moore took the tilt with Eathorne seriously, and expected to win.
“I tried to talk to every single one of them,” Moore said of the Central Committee’s members. “I traveled around — I think I hit 11 or 12 counties — and I would have gone to more.”
Eathorne, a former police officer, lost his first run at state GOP chair in 2015 to Cheyenne attorney Matt Micheli by three votes. He was elected vice-chairman in 2017, and ascended to the chair four months later when then-chairman Ryan Mulholland took a job and left Wyoming. Eathorne was reelected in 2019 and 2021.
Eathorne has stirred controversy and made headlines during his chairmanship. He told former Trump strategist Steve Bannon in a February 2021 podcast that Wyoming ought to consider seceding from the United States. He’s a member of the Oath Keepers, a militia group, according to a whistleblower’s report, and was on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol building during the violent attack on Jan. 6, 2021. A joint WyoFile and Casper Star-Tribune investigation found that he was the subject of a sexual harassment lawsuit three decades ago that was settled.
Eathorne took a swipe at the media on Saturday following a diatribe by Secretary of State Chuck Gray in which Gray told the audience of the press, “We have to take them on at every moment.”
Gray read off the names of past Casper Star-Tribune and WyoFile reporters who’ve left the state.
Eathorne followed. “I’d like to echo those comments on the media,” he said, “and leave it at that.”
Some Wyoming GOP Central Committee members were able to forgive Eathorne for past missteps. Many people have regrets about their decisions, Bighorn County Republican Party Chairman Sharon Hall said.
“That’s where grace comes in,” Hall told WyoFile. “We make mistakes and we learn from those mistakes.”
The only other Wyoming GOP election Saturday was for secretary. Donna Rice, the incumbent Casper small business owner who’s “pro-life, pro-gun, and pro-Trump,” according to her bio, ran unopposed.
And the beat goes on.
In this deep-rooted Republican state where Wyoming residents proudly display their adoration of a highly morally flawed ex-President with their Trump bumper stickers, the fact that Halverson has been determined to move Wyoming politics “farther right” should be of no surprise.
But, there appears to be, albeit slow in coming, an appetite for more Progressive change.
There is no Democratized nation in the world where gun ownership, mass murders, child deaths by guns, comes even close to those in America. Republican politicians have no desire to push for gun law reform, even as mass murders are greatly increasing, year by year. This year already, there have been over 200 mass murder incidents! Last year there were 647 for the entire year. Still, a hideous number, just not as high as it will be this year.
In Texas, mass murder incidents have escalated by 90% in this past decade. As self-professed Christians cling to their bibles and pray mightily for all those innocent babies murdered by far-right extremists, they continue also to cling to their guns.
I continue to wonder what it will take for Republican Wyomingites to become at least more moderate. It was a tragedy that this state would support a known criminal for President. And when Cheney took a moral stand against a seditious President, rather than support her as a longstanding popular Wyoming incumbent, she was pushed out by Trump supporters.
This country, as it now stands, is in deep trouble. It is beyond appalling that the ex-President who is well-known as a lifelong grifter and is now facing indictments from multiple sources for alleged crimes, continues to enjoy support by Wyoming voters.
The man is despised by New Yorkers who are all too familiar with the man’s corruption. Yet, voters in many states throughout the country seem not to care about the egregious mode of operation by this seasoned grifter. My sincere hope is that the moral and ethical side of far-right Republicans in this state are able to at least push for moderation because it is morally unacceptable that children are being slaughtered in this country by the same rabid-right who continue to support the criminal who has fled the state where residents detest him, for a state that has its own very serious political issues! America must heal from its excessive ills if it is to survive as a Democratic Republic. For those who claim to revere the United Stars Constition, then I implore you to read it because the radical-right is attempting to toilet it.
You can’t have an opinion around these individuals without being ridiculed science and actual facts mean nothing to narcissists.
“He’s a member of the Oath Keepers, a militia group, according to a whistleblower’s report, and was on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol building during the violent attack on Jan. 6, 2021. A joint WyoFile and Casper Star-Tribune investigation found that he was the subject of a sexual harassment lawsuit three decades ago that was settled. ”
Sexual harasser, qanon believer, pillow patriot beliver, insurrectionist (traitor), bigot, and a liar.
That’s a hell of a resume. But at least he’s a self-proclaimed “christian”.
The inmates have taken over the asylum. That’s all folks.
I was there, in the gallery, Mike Koshmrl’s summary is excellent. Poking some fun here of my own (Go Pokes!): Security for the convention was handled by visibly present non-uniformed people wondering around with exposed short barrel side arms, there was no metal detector checkpoint at the entry, no sign in. So if you were a psychopath with a death wish you could start the most amazing gun fight with statistically proven relatively inaccurate bullets flying from snubby pistols from across the room for a few minutes once you had taken out the closest security person and your intended victim at close range and you were headed to the floor in your blaze of suicidal glory. Thank god these copycat mass shooters aren’t into politics. The Wyoming GOP leadership is looking for young, energetic voices who will call out the Red Line of hatred toward all journalism and commitment to controlling children’s education in the State, that was clear from the applause meter. The most telling aspect of what’s happening at the delegate level of the party (along with the cowed and anonymous 25 dissenting and 49 hardline member voting blocks) was the fund raising bake sale auction in which bids were joyously taken for “Trump 47”coins and cookies. Make no mistake about it, the leadership of the Wyoming GOP will just sit out any consideration of the upcoming Presidential nominating process, the Wyoming GOP is a party of Trump. We’re back to the days when New York-monied absentee Cattle Barrons run the territory, good news is a Texan will cost them a lot more than $5 a day and the local GOP will be needing the money for lawn signs.