Wyoming GOP censures Gordon, endorses Trump as Republican presidential nominee

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Apr. 20—CHEYENNE — The Wyoming Republican Party voted to censure Gov. Mark Gordon and officially endorsed former President Donald Trump as the Republican presidential nominee during state convention meetings here Saturday.

The final day of the three-day state convention was attended by just over 300 delegates from the Cowboy State's GOP. Trump campaign representative Pat Truman made a visit to Wyoming for the Republican Party's convention, where he called President Joe Biden "weak" and criticized the Democrat presidential incumbent on his handling of the border crisis and the nation's economy.

"He is too feeble to lead and too weak to protect our nation. His weakness allows our borders to be overrun," Truman said. "It encourages our nation's enemies to attack our allies and take the lives of our military servicemen and women. Bidenomics brings inflation that makes groceries and energy more expensive for American families."

Rep. John Bear, R-Gillette, who is also chairman of the Wyoming Freedom Caucus, was selected to serve as honorary chair of the GOP state convention. Bear, along with national committee chairman Corey Steinmetz and chairwoman Nina Webber, will represent Wyoming, along with a few other elected delegates, at the Republican National Convention July 15-18 in Milwaukee.

Steinmetz, husband of state Sen. Cheri Steinmetz, R-Lingle, called on the RNC to be more vocal in upholding Republican values. He specifically addressed former RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, who resigned from the position in late February after receiving calls for her resignation, including public criticism from Trump.

"Where's the RNC? When's the last time you heard the RNC taking a very public stance?" Corey Steinmetz said. "We will only save this nation if the RNC becomes a very vocal and organized megaphone standing up for the rights of Wyoming Republicans and Republicans all across this nation. We cannot continue to simply be a fundraising machine."

Censuring Gordon

The Wyoming GOP passed several resolutions Saturday, one of which was brought by the Park County delegation to censure Gordon. The resolution passed on consent, meaning there was no debate on it.

Censure is a symbolic rebuke by a political party, and doesn't hold any statutory weight. Gordon is one of many elected Republican Wyoming leaders to receive this condemnation from the far-right factions of the GOP. Former Congresswoman Liz Cheney was censured by the Wyoming GOP in 2021, and Gordon's predecessor, Matt Mead, nearly faced a censure in 2014.

Gordon's censure was specifically over his vetoes of a property tax bill that would have provided relief to all Wyoming homeowners and another bill that would have repealed gun-free zones across the state, angering many Republican lawmakers.

Senate File 54 was one of five bills passed by the Legislature in the 2024 budget session targeting property tax relief. Over the next two years, SF 54 would have provided a 25% tax reduction for all Wyoming homeowners up to the first $2 million of assessed value for a residential property, based on the fair market value of the home.

However, Gordon vetoed the bill, criticizing it as the type of "Bidenomics" he expected to come out of Washington, D.C., and not the state's conservative Legislature. In his veto of House Bill 125, a repeal of gun-free zones, the governor said in his veto letter this was a process that needed to be approached meticulously.

Earlier this week, the governor directed the State Construction Department to start drafting rules to repeal gun-free zones in state-owned executive branch buildings.

However, Republican delegates found Gordon to be "too moderate." One line in the resolution to censure the governor stated, "Gordon falsely uses and weaponizes conservative language against his own citizens while behaving, spending and delivering outcomes like a liberal."

Dozens of resolutions passed

Trending national issues have seeped into the politics of local state governments, and Wyoming is no exception. The state's GOP Resolutions Committee received 103 resolutions passed by county GOP committees, which were narrowed down to 90.

The 90 resolutions were split among nine categories: foreign policy and defense; energy; immigration and immigrants; jobs and economy; crime and law; government and budgets; agriculture; health and society; and education.

A majority of these resolutions were passed with little to no debate by party delegates. One of these includes counting all Wyoming election ballots by hand. Another one called on the state to defund the gender studies and social justice programs at the University of Wyoming, as well as all of its diversity, equity and inclusion programs.

Several others called for a return to the definition of marriage as between a man and a woman, withdrawal from the United Nations, strengthening the southern border with Mexico, and repealing the Affordable Care Act and reforms of medical care.

Only two resolutions failed to pass the full body. One proposed allowing local municipalities the choice to accept those who are undocumented into their communities. The other opposed the resettlement of refugees in counties without the consent of county commissioners.

Hannah Shields is the Wyoming Tribune Eagle's state government reporter. She can be reached at 307-633-3167 or hshields@wyomingnews.com. You can follow her on X @happyfeet004.