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David Dodson

David Dodson of Jackson announced Thursday he will challenge U.S. Sen. John Barrasso as an independent in the 2018 election. 

CHEYENNE — After months of speculation, Wyoming’s U.S. Sen. John Barrasso finally has a Republican challenger. Sort of. Jackson businessman and Stanford University lecturer David Dodson announced Thursday that he will run against Barrasso in this year’s Senate race as a “Reagan Republican.”

But he’s planning to run as an independent, meaning he won’t challenge Barrasso in the GOP primary this summer. Dodson’s party affiliation is listed as “unaffiliated” according to the Teton County Clerk’s office and he donated $1,000 to Bernie Sanders during the 2016 presidential race.

(“I didn’t vote for the guy, I just thought I’d make a little trouble for Hillary,” Dodson said in an emailed statement.)

Democrat Gary Trauner, also of Jackson, announced his candidacy earlier this winter.

In a press release, Dodson said his goal was to improve Wyoming’s economy, which he cited as ranked last in the country.

“(W)hen you read John Barrasso’s website, he seems to think last place is OK because he writes about how well things are going,” Dodson said in the release. “That’s not just unacceptable, it’s crazy.”

He also slammed the GOP tax reform plan that passed last year and was championed by Barrasso as “the Teton County Tax Relief Bill.”

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Dodson teaches management at Stanford University in California. According to his university biography, he previously worked for McKinskey & Company as a consultant handling energy issues. He has also worked as an executive at several companies, including Wind River Environmental, a specialty trucking firm.

A Colorado native, Dodson has lived in Wyoming for seven years.

Two relatively prominent national Republicans have floated primary challenges to Barrasso. Last fall, both Erik Prince, founder of the notorious Blackwater military contractor, and Jackson-based philanthropist and GOP mega-donor Foster Friess said they were considering running against Barrasso.

But Prince has not discussed the potential Senate bid in months, nor does he live in Wyoming. Friess has continued to say that he may run, though has taken no steps toward doing so and has consistently praised Barrasso.

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Arno Rosenfeld covers state politics.

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