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.

Maggie Mullen

Maggie Mullen reports on state government and politics. Before joining WyoFile in 2022, she spent five years at Wyoming Public Radio.

Join the Conversation

9 Comments

Want to join the discussion? Fantastic, here are the ground rules: * Provide your full name — no pseudonyms. WyoFile stands behind everything we publish and expects commenters to do the same. * No personal attacks, profanity, discriminatory language or threats. Keep it clean, civil and on topic. *WyoFile does not fact check every comment but, when noticed, submissions containing clear misinformation, demonstrably false statements of fact or links to sites trafficking in such will not be posted. *Individual commenters are limited to three comments per story, including replies.

Your email address will not be published.

  1. While I generally have no faith in committees, the final 3 candidates appear to represent the opinion of the majority of Wyoming voters and parents. Those on the left pretend to want democratic policy but we all know their penchant for hoaxes and scams. Look at the states where they dominate the political discourse and you find worthless jargon and sloganeering and very bad policy. More importantly, you have failing schools that push CRT-based racism and dumbing down of the curriculum and rampant crime. The latest horse crap is that math is racist, while looters hit stores and trains. You can criticize our Republican majority all day long, as we Republicans do, but thank God the left is a minority. Imagine the chaos if it was the other way around. I do read replies to my comments but the level of censorship on my counter-replies is beyond the pale so I will no longer bother.

  2. Brett Glass comments … all should have an equal vote. I wanted to respond: Wyoming Statutes 22 define our representative electoral process, starting at the local precinct level. Party chairs and state committee men/women are elected to represent us. We are a republic, govered by laws…NOT a democracy, defined by our founders as “mob-ocracy”. Equality does not mean we all get an equal vote.

  3. Hmm…the population of Niobrara County is 2422. Natrona County, where I live, has 79,858 people. Natrona County has just under 33 times more people than Niobrara County. Each county has three votes for their choice of school superintendent. Yeah, that’s fair…
    Thanks, Maggie for bringing this unfairness to light.

  4. Beware the conspirators claiming they want “fairness”.
    The best person for the job will know CRT is Evil, Common Core is Evil, and that local control of the curriculum is best.

    1. They will also need to know that CRT is not taught in K-12 and that it has been around for 40 years but has just recently came to light by the right for more political divide.

      1. The CRT boogeyman has to run its course eventually doesn’t it?

        Most of those who are against it can’t even give a proper definition. Ask for proof that it is the “scourge” of public education, and those same people can’t even find examples of it being taught.

        But, the same people who are in fear of CRT also defend the traitorous sore losers from jan 6. They also don’t believe covid is a legitimate problem with over 800k people dead. Non existent voter fraud is more important than voting rights for people of different backgrounds.

        It is the bizarro new world with the chrump minions. Up is down, water isn’t wet, and fantastical conspiracy theories are believed more than facts and reality.

  5. The process was also used in 2012 to fill the vacancy in the State Treasurer’s office upon the death of Joe Meyer. Mark Gordon was the successful candidate.

  6. The entire CONCEPT of a political party filling a vacant office violates all possible definitions of “equality.” Party bosses shouldn’t be allowed to pick the most loyal partisan footsoldier; every citizen, regardless of party affiliation or lack thereof, should have a say.