When a state lawmaker proclaimed at a recent pre-election meeting that a “red wave” would soon hit Wyoming, the mostly Republican crowd went wild.

I laughed. Out loud. Pretty unprofessional of me, and not very bright, since I was covering an event in decidedly unfriendly territory. But come on, folks — how much redder can we get?

Opinion

As it turns out, the state is now a deeper shade of red after an election that put 86 Republicans in the Legislature’s 93 seats. Why, my face is turning red just thinking about it. The reaction is equal parts embarrassment and anger.

Why is Wyoming marching even further right at a time when other conservative states recognize that “Make America Great Again” isn’t really a patriotic movement? MAGA is a radical slogan, not a way of governing.

GOP candidates who lie about the 2020 presidential election being “rigged” against former president Donald Trump were losers in many states. Here they coasted to victory, vanquishing opponents who told the well-documented truth: Trump lost fair and square, by 7 million votes.

The former president suffered the same crushing Electoral College defeat that he’d handed Hilary Clinton in 2016, but his ego won’t accept it. Trump did everything he could to stay in power, including inciting a violent insurrection at the Capitol, where former Vice President Mike Pence was pursued by criminals in MAGA caps ready to kill him.

Trump will gladly do it again, and damn the consequences for anyone who gets in his way. Many expect him to announce his re-election bid today.

But his plan to have his cronies in charge of that upcoming election fell short. In every battleground state where Republican election deniers ran for secretary of state, they lost. 

At this writing, the red wave that a slew of TV talking heads and other media guaranteed hasn’t materialized.

But in Wyoming, Rep. Chuck Gray won the Republican nomination on claims of rampant fraud where none exists. No Republican, independent or minority party candidate could be recruited to run against him in the general election. Democrats bailed early without even putting up a fight.

Why would they waste time and money, when all it takes to win in Wyoming is an “R” behind your name and Trump’s endorsement? Talk about tilting at windmills. Taking on Gray, who about half the House GOP caucus refuses to work with, would be like running head-on into a buzzsaw.

U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney was given the heave-ho in the primary by Republicans who felt betrayed by her vote to impeach Trump. Harriet Hageman stood on a Casper stage hand-in-hand with Trump in May, basking in the glow of 10,000 fans — most of whom couldn’t have picked her out of a line-up a year ago.

Now she can’t wait to get to Washington, D.C., as Wyoming’s new congresswoman and start tearing apart President Joe Biden’s “socialistic” agenda. But she’s not going to have as many comrades-in-arms as she expected.

At this writing, the red wave that a slew of TV talking heads and other media guaranteed hasn’t materialized. At best the GOP, with all of the political wind at its back, produced nothing more than a seeping crimson ooze — not unlike a bloody nose, really. Republicans failed to reclaim the Senate, and may when it’s all said and done actually lose a seat in the upper chamber. Control of the House, meanwhile, is still too close to call, though it looks like the GOP will squeak out a narrow majority.

That’s a far cry from the 30, 40 or even 60 seats pundits said the MAGA crowd would pick-up. One of the only places Trump’s slurry of fear and lies carried the day in force was Wyoming, capital of the ultra-MAGA brigade. 

Do the Wyoming GOP’s many victories show Wyoming is a model for the Republican National Committee to follow, or is it evidence our voters are hopelessly out of touch with the rest of the country?

I think the latter is correct, and here’s why: Republicans didn’t perform as expected in the midterm elections because the party allowed Trump to hand-pick inferior candidates.

Sure, hand the keys to the twice-impeached guy who lost the popular vote in 2016, dropped 40 House seats on his watch in 2018 and was shellacked by Biden in 2020. Republicans should have pushed Trump into an Uber at Mar-a-Lago to take him on a one-way trip to the Everglades until the election was over.

Trump selected sycophants like Hageman all over the map, who repeated his “election was rigged” lies ad nauseam. Many supporters predict (or is it threaten?) riots in the street if Trump loses in 2024. 

Judging by election results across the nation, voters supported candidates who will steer us away from violence. Even with Biden’s approval rating underwater, food and gas prices out of control and three-fourths of the electorate saying we’re headed in the wrong direction, the very real threat of ending democracy motivated voters to back away from Trump-aligned candidates.

But not here in Wyoming, where Trump rules and his worshippers — QAnon disciples, election deniers, Oath Keepers, Capitol rioters and their “fans” — run the party and make up its base. Everyone is welcome under the Wyoming Republican Party’s big tent!

Except those pesky RINOs — Republicans in name only — that Wyoming Chairman Frank Eathorne wants purged from the ranks. Plus anyone who’s pro-choice, LGBTQ or dares suggest that white men in America have enjoyed a couple of advantages not available to others.

Eathorne is an alleged Oath Keepers member who stood outside the Capitol for more than two hours, watching it overrun by an angry mob bent on ending the peaceful transition of power at the heart of our constitutional republic. He issued a statement that said he didn’t see any violence, the “Sergeant Shultz defense” of indefensible actions.

Standing next to Eathorne on the plaza was Bob Ide, who’s just been elected to Wyoming’s Senate. This less-than-dynamic duo claims they didn’t storm the Capitol, but their presence gave tacit approval of criminal behavior. Even with this on his resume, Ide sent traditional conservative and former Senate President Drew Perkins packing in the primary. Democrats let Ide breeze to victory, unchallenged.

The contest that best represents the kind of change I see coming next year was the Republican primary for House District 58, represented since 2017 by Pat Sweeney.

The Casper businessman is a staunch fiscal conservative who also holds the traditional — though now widely abandoned — Republican belief that government should stay out of people’s personal lives. But refusing to interfere with women’s healthcare decisions or the rights of LGBTQ folks is a bad look amid the GOP-led culture wars and he was mercilessly taunted and targeted by advocacy groups and his own party’s leaders.

At a far-right group’s candidate forum, Sweeney had the courage to answer questions while wearing a mask. When the legislator was booed and told to take it off, Sweeney explained he’s on medication that suppresses his immune system, putting him at greater risk of COVID-19.

“If I had chemotherapy right now, would you say the same thing?” he asked the crowd.

“Pat, you sicken me,” said Sweeney’s opponent, Bill Allemand, to raucous laughter. He won by 563 votes and, unopposed in the general election, he will now take his clueless, classless act to Cheyenne.

About one-third of state lawmakers will be new. I don’t know how far to the right the pendulum has swung in either the House or Senate, but it has definitely moved in that direction.

Trump has made it OK for Wyoming politicians to castigate opponents and lie that the state lacks “election integrity.” Doing so rewards them, so why stop?

Because it’s unacceptable and indecent, and Wyomingites have rejected such destructive, undemocratic behavior in the past. The question now looming over the Equality State is how long are we going to take it?

Kerry Drake

Veteran Wyoming journalist Kerry Drake has covered Wyoming for more than four decades, previously as a reporter and editor for the Wyoming Tribune-Eagle and Casper Star-Tribune. He lives in Cheyenne and...

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  1. Earlier this fall I had the great good fortune to run into Al Simpson and Mike Sullivan at a restaurant in Cody. This gave me the opportunity to thank them
    for their service both in office and for the entertaining and informative series of town hall meetings they held back in 2018. This is an example of the kind of people who governed Wyoming when I moved here in 1971. The current crop should take a look at our storied past and perhaps feel a little ashamed – though I doubt they’re capable of that level of self awareness.

  2. My fear for Wyoming is that one party so dominating the state will open the door to corruption as it has in some other states.

  3. Performative, but hardly persuasive. It’s obvious that the overwhelming majority of Wyoming voters have repeatedly shown they simply just don’t believe the predictable far left narrative that is repackaged and designed to manipulate a few angry followers here. Is it any surprise to observe that far left radicals are so often miserably depressed and angry people, especially when they can’t exert influence or control over people they ridicule and despise?

    1. At the moment I think Wyoming can use all of the left-wing anger it can get. One party rule is not good for anyone. Anyway, Drake’s column does not fit that description. People who live in Wyoming expect conservatism but it’s hard to use that label to describe foaming-at-the-mouth MAGAites.

  4. Kerry, you are the bravest man in Wyoming, speaking truth to power. Some day in some history book readers will wonder what everyone was thinking. Keep it up.

  5. Dark money in politics and the media has really worked out well for whom? Just the far right, the hard left and the 365-24-7 shallow political media. Its not that complicated. pathological environgelic scientology vs. misogynist evangelic narcissism. Why would a young working and thinking person want to be a part of either? Boomers should be proud!!!

  6. In reading the responses it is obvious that Wyoming as their position as an energy supply powerhouse declines, will increasingly become insignificant. As much of the country begins to realize that they have one of the cleanest and fairest election processes in the world, and that yes we did have insurrectionists attempt to violently stop the operation of mandated federal processes, and that the ridiculous bizarre conspiracy phenomenon are just that, we like other similar political jurisdictions will be ignored. All completely fruitcake political movements have been relegated to the history books, or are diminished to the point of insignificance. Why? Because “people” of sensibilities know. A government “of the people and by the people” and where are most of the people? Not in Wyoming. The city of New York has 14 times more “people” than the state of Wyoming.

    1. “….we did have insurrectionists attempt to violently stop the operation of mandated federal processes…” Obviously, the federal process that requires federal elections to be conducted in accord with laws passed by states’ LEGISLATURES, as opposed to states’ EXECUTIVES, was ignored in the 2020 presidential election as well as the 2022 mid-term election. Our U.S. Congress is supposed to prosecute people who violate U.S Code, including those codes that require the protection of classified information or information of intelligence value. It’s also a violation of U.S. Code to destroy government records that pertain to the conduct of government business. It’s against the law to promote or aid those who lie on F.I.S.A warrants. It’s against federal law to allow non-citizens to freely cross our national boundaries, etc. The so-called “insurrectionists” were angry BECAUSE our federal government ISN’T FOLLOWING “mandated federal processes.”

  7. My husband and I thought that when we retired to Wyoming in 2003 there was a “Wyoming Way” that meant truth and integrity. How disappointing the current crop of “leaders” in Cheyenne has become. When the Hag was running for governor four years ago she was the most frightening person on the stage of Sheridan College!

  8. Wow, Kerry you really stirred the pot on this one ! I am a proud Wyoming moderate— not a liberal and not a conservative, and I am an eternal optimist. If you want to see Wyoming at its unvarnished best, attend a high school sporting event culminating state event. Example: The Wyoming all class Volleyball State championships were just concluded at the Ford Wyoming center ( Nov. 3, 4&5). There we saw the likes of Rock River H.S. Do battle with Little Snake River H.S. On another court ( 4 going at once) we saw Kelly Walsh do battle with the new and mighty Thunder Basin H.S. Out of Gillette. Heated combat throughout, yet at the conclusion, hugging, congratulations and well wishes all around. Our elected legislators, and other state leaders,(
    as well as some of the responders to Mr. Drake’s editorial ) should take a lesson from our students. For future reference, the next culminating athletic event will be the Wyoming all class wrestling championships held here in late February. Watch and learn politicians ! Really.

  9. Kerry Drake, Everything you said, every word of it is spot on. Thank you! I am a WY resident since 1977. I am saddened and sickened by the gullable cult members here, and I have to walk among them with their Trump red rhinestone caps. So, I have to ask, all the information shared about Trump’s narcissistic criminal nature is what you want leading our nation? You want people like Hageman who is a election denier in congress, really? Culties need to cowboy up and pick truth over Trumpism.

  10. What a bull-s story! We Republicans want what is right FOR THE COUNTRY AND THE PEOPLE. You are ok then with inflation? Unbelievable amounts of money to Ukraine when we can use it here? Stopping the pipeline and putting people out of jobs AND creating an energy crisis when we were ENERGY INDEPENDANT. It’s clear you are a liberal but it’s ok for liberals to voice their opinion but as Republicans if we do then we are labeled radicals. There is CLEAR proof of fraud during the 2020 election, yet you still deny it. Why because your candidate won. Funny how everyone forgets how Hillary was an, as you call it, election denier but that was ok. Abrams of Georgia, election denier, again ok. The 2020 STEAL is not a lie but a FACT. Then you say “Make America Great Again” isn’t really a patriotic movement? MAGA is a radical slogan, not a way of governing”. So you deny that DJT DID, in fact, make America great? Why is any Democrat “movement” violent? BLM, Antifa? A summer of destruction?
    How about the “crossover voting” allowed in Wyoming? I suppose you think THAT’S ok?
    I would LOVE to read something unbiased from you.

    1. Set aside the fact that Drake is an opinion contributor for wyofile. It doesn’t matter how many chrump lemmings cry to read something “unbiased” from Drake. He’s an opinion writer, it won’t happen. If his words cause you so much angst, stop reading. Take personal responsibility for your browsing habits.

      There was no fraud on the scale you chrumpers wish. Never happened. Keep believing it if you wish, but it’s your ignorance to burden. You can’t fault others for NOT believing nonsense in the way that you do.

  11. The opinion writer and many who commented are hypocrites. You would all be gloating if 86 of 93 seats were all liberals.

  12. I wrote below but overlooked making one important point: each state in a federal election must make its own election laws. But in accord with the U.S. Constitution, the states’ federal election laws are to be made by the states’ LEGISLATORS. In the 2020 elections, at least five states with large populations mailed absentee ballots out to hundreds of thousands of people who had not requested them in accord with their states’ laws. Those ballots were mailed upon the direction of states’ governors or attorney generals, i.e., EXECUTIVES. Thus, the Conservative claim that the 2020 election was not a legal election has a rational basis. It simply doesn’t matter how many times ballots are recounted; ballots not cast in accord with states’ laws are still illegal ballots! Considering what is taking place in our country at this time, such as the failure to enforce states’ voting laws, federal immigration laws, and the failure to prosecute and/or impeach those who ignore their sworn oaths of office, we are all going to find ourselves subjugated by oligarchs if we are not already!

    1. Sad that you believe that nonsense. Murder rate up 2000% in New Orleans. Another blue success story

  13. Well, we can all cry or get to work on overturning the far right. Granted after this election where does the true Wyoming voter go, on the bases to benefit us all… The creation of a third party. First establish the party which will then open the primaries to a new generation of candidates. It will take a huge effort to do, but Wyoming is worth it, for a future open to us all in healthcare, education, and our true traditions. This will require all 23 counties to strike up a torch for Open elections… Otherwise we see what we all know today we are ruled… It will require a petion drive with people to ensure all dot’s are cover and Tees crossed… Then filed on April 23, 2024 before the primaries or sooner, platform of policies by drawning up, and encouraging those having, moderate Republicans, Democrats, Independents values along with the young voters, who truly want a future changing event within their home state. Otherwise, we can take a seat and continue to watch our traditions and beliefs of representation as nothing more than Facisam of the Wyoming Government and drawn up the power and greed of the elite. What would name such a party (Open Range)…

  14. Being born in Wyoming I have seen many things in this state go down politically. This red sludge however is the lowest I have seen. I have always voted for what I felt were the best people for the job. I have voted Democrat I have Voted Republican .

    I am proud to say I have never Voted MAGA. The GOP is so divided particularly in Wyoming. They now want Governor Gordon investigated
    for colluding with the future of Wyoming. No evidence. Just suspicious thoughts.
    They are witch hunting again.

    Until the Wyoming Republican voters realize that MAGA doesn’t represent the true core values of Wyoming we are doomed. Hags, Gray, the orange Blob they are liars and they are leading us with their false beliefs.

    Remember the concept of help your neighbors, be kind, be courteous help those that need help. That has been destroyed by MAGA.

    I am great with being a conservative state but not to the point that it keeps us from advancing into the future. Or legislature is moving us backwards.

  15. For years Wyoming has been willing to be the energy capital of the country. In return we have had a huge treasurey and haven’t had to pay state income tax. In other words we prostituted ourselves. We allowed companies to rape our air land and water and opposed reasonable regulations on extractive industries. If we had demanded companies use the best available technology, we likely wouldn’t have the carbon problems we have today. We allowed methane to spew into the air with coal bed methane and drilling. And we allowed plants to cause acid rain problems in our most precious mountain resources.
    Extractive Companies, to ensure this political climate, brainwashed their employees and told them their jobs would go if they didn’t support pro-extractive politicians. Since many were southern imports from Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana, it didn’t take much effort.
    The John Birch nest in north east Wyoming welcomed them with open arms. And Jackson billionairs poured money into the races to keep their low tax haven.
    Democrats and old time Republicans have been helpless in this onslaught of greed. Our state, as we knew it, has been disappeared.
    Over the years Kerry and others have been furious that democrats didn’t wave a magic wand and stop this. But, fewer and fewer people have been willing to drain their pocketbooks to fight this uphill battle. Change, when it comes, is going to have to come from outside our borders.

    1. The “carbon problems we have today” is a political canard. While the much published “Hockey Stick” increase in atmospheric CO2 is real, it may only be viewed as an increase if viewed with a very powerful microscope within the context of our 4.54-million-year planetary history. Right now, atmospheric CO2 stands at approximately 400 parts per million. Before the Industrial Revolution, our atmospheric CO2 was approximately 280 parts per million. So, at the very most, human activity may have raised atmospheric carbon content by 120 parts per million, or 120 thousandths of one percent!!!! Our geologic history, as documented by our scientists within the U.S. Geologic Survey, shows that our planet is presently experiencing an almost all-time atmospheric carbon low!!! (The Wyofile software precludes my ability to paste the rather eye-opening charts that relate this scientific fact.) In simple terms, when dinosaurs roamed the Earth, atmospheric carbon levels were four-to-five times higher than they are today. Five hundred million years ago, the carbon content of Earth’s atmosphere was 20-to-30 times greater than it is today.

      This data, partially derived and understood by personnel who work within the Ice Core Facility at the Denver Federal Center, doesn’t play well for politicians trying to sell so-called “Green Energy,” which really isn’t “Green” at all!!! But the mining, milling, and manufacture of “Green Energy” devices is another story….and not at all “Green.”

  16. Firstly, the demonstration inside the U.S. Capitol wasn’t an “insurrection.” There was no attempt to take-over the reins of government and there was no attempt to install any person or persons who weren’t voted into public office. A professional journalist should know the the difference between “insurrection” and “demonstration.” Also, the fact that National Capitol Police failed to secure the Capitol and, in some cases, invited demonstrators into the building, demonstrates the authority’s lack of will to control the demonstration. The Speaker of the House was advised prior to the demonstration to take precautions and failed to take preventative measures. It has since been proven that FBI employees/contractors were present within the body of demonstrators and acted as provocateurs!

    Secondly, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with attempting to “Make American Great Again.” With Democrats at the helm of government, and with the silence of, or active support by, “RINO’s,” the United States Government has failed to control its national border, a violation of federal laws and codes, has diminished the fuels that power our transportation industry, food production, industrial production, and all other sectors that have heretofore elevated our standard of living. Our military has been weakened and our public school systems have been reduced to poorly managed daycare enterprises. Several levels of governance has allowed our valuable resources in minerals and cropland to be sold-off to foreign governments who bid us ill-will.

    Beware of those who don’t want to make America great again!!

    1. Amen to Mr. Koller! I was born and raised in Wyoming and am perfectly happy here. Instead of trying to make us be more liberal, why not move to a liberal state that is run the way you want? Taxes too high there?????

    2. Killing the VP would have been an attempt to take over the reigns of the Government. His death was to be the instigation for Trump to invalidate the results of an election he had legally lost based on documents shown to the whole nation by the Congressional Committee investigating this event. Many of the demonstrators chanted “hang Mike Pence.” Those words have an actual meaning. Try to keep up with what is really going on.

  17. I just want to thank you for your informative articles that keep us up to date on the political scene.

  18. Like it or lump it, Wyoming will never become a liberal state….I hope and pray. What is the biggest difference between conservatives and liberals? Primarily it is who benefits from a days work and wages….the one who did the work and earned it or the one who slept until noon and “needs it”.

    1. That is the biggest myth, I work in a small business which is privately owned. Don’t tell me the economic values of those who work and those who need. Give a fair wage, respect, and then it truly doesn’t matter if your a liberial or conservative. What matters are the life styles we are forgetting, otherwise those issues would have been addressed would they not?

      1. A lot of states in the union are more liberal than Wyoming, why make us change to be like a state where you evidently prefer to live? Would it not be easier to move there yourself instead of expecting hundreds of thousands of us to change to suit you?

  19. Wyoming politicians are dangerous to society because they grew up believing they are the righteous stewards of the land. They protect that right like a big old hen setting on a clutch of eggs. They do not hesitate to peck any intruder to death . Truth is that they and their ancestral ilk have rigged the system for years, sitting on everything from Grazing Boards to School Boards, so much so their corruption has become the norm. I am no longer proud to say I live in Wyoming.

  20. Things are never so bad that they can’t get worse. Wyoming’s legislature will lead the way.

  21. My native home is hardly recognizable anymore, due to the moderate right being inundated with far right ghost seekers. Always ironic to me is how their prayerful braying to remove government from our lives is followed by their personal pocketing of federal money. Wyoming couldn’t exist without all the aid we depend on from government to make and keep our state whole. The day the mega right destroys that help will see the real downfall of our Wyoming way of life, and the populace will either scream or run away. Thankfully, Kerry Drake’s excellent insight will be there to warn us….I hope…..if we pay attention.