Wyoming’s Constitution Party candidate for governor Rex Rammell alleged Thursday, without evidence, that the state Republican Party was planning to undermine its own nominee, State Treasurer Mark Gordon, in his bid for governor this November.
That was news to the state party chairman, Frank Eathorne, however, who said he had no knowledge of anyone in the party reaching out to Rammell, adding that the party would stick by its candidate.
On Thursday, Rammell — a perennial candidate for various offices in Wyoming and Idaho — said unnamed “high ranking party officials” had urged him to switch from the Republican Party to a third party back in May in the anticipation that Gordon, rather than a more conservative candidate, would win the Republican Primary.
In an interview, Rammell — who declined to name any specifics about the individuals within the party — said he believed Gordon had “hijacked the party” and that he, not bound by the two-party system, was the only “true Conservative” in the race. He said if any candidate other than Gordon would have won the Republican Primary, he would have “backed down” in favor of a candidate he saw as more conservative, and that his decision to switch parties in May was part of an internal GOP plot to act as a “Plan B” in case Gordon won.
The state GOP disputed these claims.
“I don’t have knowledge of it,” said Eathorne. “The Republican Party is going to stand by the primary winners. Period.”
Rammell said Gordon was an “illegitimate candidate,” primarily due to numerous media reports from across the state of Democrats changing parties on election night in order to vote for Gordon over more conservative candidates. Republican runner-up Foster Friess — arguably the most conservative candidate in the race — asked various GOP candidates if they would support a change in election law after stating the Democrats had been gaming the system to switch parties and impact the opposite party’s races, an email obtained by WyoFile said. In Albany County, it was estimated that up to 3,000 voters had switched their party affiliations for this year’s primary, their county clerk told the Laramie Boomerang.
The practice was even attested to an an interview with the Star-Tribune published Wednesday, when Natrona County Democratic Chairman Brett Governati said the practice of switching over to help more moderate Republicans win happens “quite a lot.”
However, the practice itself is not illegal and could only change by legislative action. In the meantime, the state Republican Party has other things to worry about.
“I think there’s a fair amount of due attention to the issue,” said Eathorne. “Right now our priority is standing behind our nominees.”
Rammell, who said he has no significant campaign infrastructure in place yet, will be on the ballot in November, during which he feels he will capture the vote of all the “true conservatives” who voted for candidates other than Gordon in the primary.
When Rammell switched parties in May, he told the Star-Tribune he believed that moderate voters would carry Gordon to victory in the primary but that, when the general election came around, more conservative voters would abandon him. However, Rammell said he did not anticipate the Democratic crossover that occurred Tuesday night.
Asked whether or not it was contradictory of him to switch parties in order to combat the impacts of Democrats changing parties, Rammell said his “motives were pure, while the Democrats’ were not,” adding he had switched parties in order to “save the conservative movement.”
“We’re about to see how conservative Wyoming really is,” he said. “Everybody says it’s a deep red state, but we haven’t had deep red leaders. Matt Mead is not a deep red leader. Dave Freudenthal certainly wasn’t before him. Will Wyoming break the pattern and really put in a deep red leader?”