Saturday, September 21, 2019

Wyoming Republicans Flirt with Changes to Delegate Selection Process But Hold Pat

Over the summer Wyoming Republicans have been mired in something of an ideological struggle within the state party. A more conservative faction within the party is pushing a more aggressive use of the state party's Governance Review and Feedback Committee, created to eye how well Equality state legislators and legislation align with the party platform.

In other words, it is potentially being used as a litmus test on more moderate Republicans in the Wyoming legislature.

But that has drawn the ire of the two most populous counties in the state where more moderates find their home, but also stretches into the national convention delegate selection process the state party uses. Natrona County Republicans, for example, in August passed three informal resolutions including one against the litmus tests, but also against possible changes to the delegate selection process that would shift the balance of power away from those population centers and empower the more rural counties in the state. Yes, that is an urban versus rural divide but is also one that features the ideological divide within the party. It is also something that is being sold as advantageous to President Trump, shifting the balance of power toward more Trump-friendly rural areas.

Under the traditional delegate selection system Wyoming Republicans have used, like the one in 2016, only one county is guaranteed to have a delegate every presidential election cycle: Laramie County, the most populous county in the state. All other counties are paired off and trade off which one gets national convention representation every cycle. Those counties only get national convention representation every other cycle.

This back and forth between the state party and the county parties occurred over the summer in the lead up to the Wyoming Republican Party state central committee meeting on August 23-24. Instead of a showdown at that meeting, however, there was an open dialog about the ideological rift and the proposed state party resolutions. In particular, the delegate selection changes were shelved and will be dealt with at state convention next May. Any changes made then would fall after the 2020 caucus/convention process and thus be implemented in 2024.

Despite the rise in ideological tensions over the summer over these proposed delegate selection plan changes (among other things), the party held steady with the system it has utilized with the caucuses in recent cycles.

The question moving forward out of Wyoming is whether the state party will opt to hold a presidential preference vote in the first stage of the caucuses next year or whether they will follow the lead of other states in endorsing the president and skipping the preference vote.

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