EVANSTON – Republicans who voted Saturday against censuring Gov. Matt Mead said the results are a good indication of how the Wyoming GOP primary will turn out.
Republicans who wanted to censure Mead said the narrow margin by which the censure measure failed should be a lesson.
Saturday’s highly emotional process resulted in 132 delegates voting for censure and 145 voting against. The vote was at the end of the Wyoming Republican Party 2014 State Convention.
The vote was a 30-minute roll call in which delegates stated their names, their counties and their votes. A Casper Star-Tribune reporter took notes on how delegates voted but couldn’t hear some people’s names.
Bonnie Foster, of the Wyoming GOP, said she will probably release a list of yes votes and a list of no votes on Monday.
The censure measure criticized Mead for his support of the Common Core educational standards and Senate File 104, a 2013 bill that removed Superintendent of Public Instruction Cindy Hill from control over the Wyoming Department of Education.
Earlier this year, the Wyoming Supreme Court struck down the law as unconstitutional. Hill is challenging Mead in the Republican Primary, as is Dr. Taylor Haynes.
Political observers had previously told the Star-Tribune that a censure wouldn’t have any immediate effects on Mead but that it could prop up his Republican opponents.
Park County delegates Geri Hockhalter and Terry Hinkle, both of whom voted no, believe the vote on Saturday is a good indication of the primary gubernatorial vote.
“It means the sensible people of Wyoming prevailed,” she said. “Matt Mead is a wonderful governor.”
She believes the vote will bring some closure among Republicans.
“I think the governor will win 60 percent of the primary vote,” Hinkle said.
Hill and Haynes will split the conservative Republican vote, he said.
Hinkle believes conservative Republicans may have been over-represented at the convention because he believes tea partiers have taken over the party. Tea partiers have told the Star-Tribune they take offense at that allegation, and they say they have the right to participate.
Hockhalter said many of the delegates were new.
“They got to see history today,” she said.
Weston County delegate William Curley voted yes on censure. Only seven votes would have tipped the scales, he said.
“What strikes me is this is a room full of Republicans,” he said. “The governor’s done well, but he ought to take the message.”
Attempts to censure him are over, Curley said. But some candidates have been spurred to enter races because of their displeasure over SF104, he added.
“The voters will get to have the last word,” he said.
Park County delegate Bob Berry, who voted yes, said the narrow margin shows how divided Republicans are.
“It’s sent a message because it was close,” he said. “Had it been 60-40? Probably not.”
Lincoln County delegate Larry Lawton voted against censure but he also opposed SF104.
“I would hope the governor and a number of legislators will reassess their position,” he said.
Lawton isn’t looking for any mea culpas over SF104.
“Just have an awareness the folks in Wyoming are more conservative than they may have thought,” he said.
Hill was not present during the vote. She did not have a comment, said her husband, Drake Hill. During a speech to delegates earlier in the day, she said she is principled. She said the public’s vote for her was taken away with SF104.
Haynes watched the vote. He had previously said he was not going to use a censure as a tactic in the campaign.
“I really don’t have a reaction since everything has been resolved, and the superintendent is back in office,” he said. “The motion is kind of moot.”
Mead wasn’t at the vote. He left the convention shortly after a campaign speech to celebrate his daughter’s birthday.
He said he appreciated the 145 people who voted against censure. The statement emphasized his successes while in office – low poverty, a low homeowner foreclosure rate, budget cuts and cuts in the number of state government employees.
“That’s what I’ll be talking about,” he said. “We’ll see in August what Republicans across the state deem important.”