A Republican party official has accused the Wyoming GOP’s Central Committee of planning to use an unconstitutional process at its meeting Saturday for the selection of three candidates to replace former Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow.
Campbell County State Committeeman and former Speaker of the House, Tom Lubnau, made the charge in a letter Thursday to Frank Eathorne, Chairman of the Republican Central Committee, and Brian Shuck, Wyoming Republican Party legal counsel. In it, Lubnau says he has been told that the process will involve giving each county three votes, regardless of population — one vote for each county’s state committeeman, state committeewoman and party chair.
“If that occurs, that process would be in open and obvious violation of the United States and Wyoming Constitutional provisions that require that all actions of this type strictly follow ‘one man-one vote’ principles,” the letter reads.
Lubnau is urging the Republican Central Committee to instead select candidates for Gov. Mark Gordon’s consideration through “a process that recognizes the population in each county. Each county should be allocated votes based on its population.”
Lubnau also pointed to Article 2 of the Wyoming Republican Party Platform – “Every citizen is equal before, equally protected by, and equally subject to, the law.”
Neither Eathorne nor Shuck responded to WyoFile’s request for comment. Lubnau was not available ahead of press time, but attorney Patrick Crank spoke on his behalf. Crank is a former Wyoming attorney general.
While the letter does not directly threaten legal action, Crank told WyoFile if the process is not changed, “there will be legal action.”
Crank also said he was approached by a “large number of people” concerned about the process planned for Saturday’s vote. When asked why Lubnau’s name is the only one to appear on the letter, Crank said he expects more names to appear as plaintiffs if and when legal action is taken.
Kathy Russell, Executive Director of the Wyoming Republican Party, previously confirmed to WyoFile that a process had been drafted, though Russell said the party did not want to share it with the press before Saturday. However, she said, traditionally it has involved giving each candidate 3-5 minutes to speak, a Q&A between candidates and State Central Committee members, and ultimately, giving each county three votes as described by Lubnau’s letter.
“That’s the way it’s always been,” Russell said.
Previously, WyoFile reported that exact rules would be presented, proposed and approved the day of the meeting.
The process that Lubnau and Russell describe has precedent. In 2018, when former Secretary of State Ed Murray resigned after facing allegations of sexual misconduct, then Gov. Matt Mead selected Ed Buchanan from a pool of three candidates chosen by the Wyoming Republican Party Central Committee. Objections similar to Lubnau’s letter were not made at that time. Crank told WyoFile there were concerns at that point, but none that rose to the same level as now. Instead, he said, “people have had time to ponder that, and it has become more important.”
Balow resigned earlier this month after accepting a similar position in Virginia.