The Wyoming Republican Party is seeking applicants to fill a three-month-long vacancy in the secretary of state’s office following the resignation of Ed Buchanan last week.
The general election will determine who steps into the role starting in January for a traditional four-year term. An interim secretary of state is needed until then. State statute calls on Buchanan’s party as well as the governor to fill the vacancy. The same process was utilized in January to replace former Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow and was the cause for controversy and a short-lived legal battle.
Interested candidates have until 5 p.m. Wednesday Sept. 21 to submit an application to the Wyoming Republican Party. The party’s state central committee will then send three nominees to the governor for a final selection.
A little history
Buchanan left office early to begin his appointment as a district court judge in Torrington. He had announced in May he would not seek re-election to instead pursue the judicial opportunity.
After securing the Republican nomination for secretary of state in the primary election, Rep. Chuck Gray (R-Casper) will run without an opponent on the ballot. He cannot be considered for the interim, however. The Wyoming Constitution prohibits Gray from being appointed before January because it would overlap with his legislative term, as first reported by the Casper-Star Tribune.
“No senator or representative shall, during the term for which he was elected, be appointed to any civil office under the state…” according to Article 3, Section 8 of the Wyoming Constitution.
Otherwise, the office has three qualifications: one must be at least 25 years old, a United States citizen and a registered voter in Wyoming. For the interim appointment, the applicant must also be a registered Republican.
The state party attempted to avoid the appointment process altogether, calling on Buchanan to delay his resignation.
“We recently read in the news that you intend to resign before the November general election. After giving this matter some thought for a few days, we are writing to respectfully ask you to remain in office until after the general election process is completed,” the party said in a letter.
Buchanan rebuffed that request. He previously told WyoFile election workers across the state would ensure a smooth transition and a safe and secure general election.
“County clerks are true professionals at what they do. They’re the ones that run elections. So we will have all the support in place necessary to have a successful general election,” he said.
The GOP state central committee will meet at 1 p.m. on Saturday Sept. 24 in Pavillion to make the selection. The meeting is open to the public.
The committee is made up of three Republican leaders from each Wyoming county — the county chair, state committeeman and state committeewoman — and each county gets three votes. Applicants will need to “attend the meeting to present themselves,” according to a statement sent to media on Friday by Donna Rice, secretary for the Wyoming Republican Party.
Gov. Mark Gordon will have five days to make a final selection from the three party nominees.