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At one time, the office of state treasurer was the only elected state office that was term limited.

State treasurers could not succeed themselves. The constraint obviously was intended to discourage any funny business with the state’s money.

The limitation became a mockery in the middle of the 1900s when the state treasurer and state auditor simply reversed seats and ran for the other office.

State Auditor Jim Griffith, who had been state treasurer, halted the practice when he ran for re-election as auditor rather than to seek a second term as state treasurer.

The upshot later, in 1981, was legislative action to remove any limit on the number of terms served by the state treasurer.

This story demonstrates that the state treasurer’s office was important enough to get special attention and treatment.

In this election year, the state treasurer’s office is an open seat.

The incumbent, Republican Mark Gordon, is running for governor instead of re-election.

The contest will be decided in the Aug. 21 Republican Party primary since no Democrat filed for the state treasurer’s office.

The three candidates are state Senators Curt Meier of LaGrange, Leland Christensen of Alta and Ron Redo of Cheyenne. Redo also ran for the office in 2014, losing to Gordon.

As is traditional in Wyoming Republican primaries, the candidates strongly emphasize their conservative credentials.

Meier has support from the tea party wing in his eastern Wyoming Senate district and is outspending Christiansen, according to political observers.

With 23 years of legislative service, Meier, 65, is currently the chairman of the Senate Committee on Transportation, Highways and Military Affairs.

Christensen, 59, has served eight years in the Senate and is chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Both legislators ran for statewide office before.

Christensen ran a credible race against U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney in the crowded Republican primary in 2016, coming in second.

Meier was a candidate for the U.S. Senate in 1996 but came in third in the GOP primary won by Sen. Mike Enzi.

The wealthy agri-businessman has served in the Legislature for 23 years.

In an e-mail, Meier said he is “staying positive on this race only showing differences in voting and required financial reporting, stressing my practical relevant experience.”

The experience Meier cited includes ten years on the Wyoming Retirement Board as a legislative liaison, in addition to legislative duties.

Regarding the differences in voting, he has pointed out that Christensen voted for a higher gas tax and a bill that transferred many of the duties from the elected state Superintendent of Public Instruction Cindy Hill to a new appointed position in the Department of Education.

The state supreme court subsequently declared the bill unconstitutional.

Christensen said in a telephone interview that he voted for the gas tax because the rate was low at the time and truckers were not paying enough to cover the cost of maintaining the interstate highways.

A recent study by the Wyoming Department of Transportation said the ultimate impact at the gas pump for consumers was only a penny a gallon.

As for the state school superintendent bill, Christensen said he voted in the following session against a similar bill.

Meier voted against both bills.

The Teton County native has the support of former State Treasurer Cynthia Lummis.

Christensen has a varied background in agriculture, logging and law enforcement.

He also served 15 years in the 19th Special Forces Airborne as a member of the National Guard, 20 years in the Teton County and Lincoln County Sheriffs’ offices and was elected twice to the Teton County Board of Commission.

The two candidates have a similar goal; to boost investment income and avoid a state income tax or other tax increases to handle the crunch ahead on K-12 budgets.

Meier wants to continue the efforts of building a professional investment team in the office along the lines of the retirement system.

Christiansen said the key is to get a group of players in the office who can handle the investments and enjoy the work, much like Gordon’s current operation.

He said said he knows Meier is outspending him, but he will continue his campaign in the state’s cities and towns, relying mostly on shoe leather and tires.

Editor's note: An earlier version of this column contained incorrect information about who current Treasurer Mark Gordon is supporting to replace him. Gordon has not endorsed any of the candidates.

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Contact Joan Barron at 307-632-2534 or jmbarron@bresnan.net.

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