Lynne Cheney "a candidate for the U.S. Senate seat"
Senate hopefuls step forward
By TOM MORTON and JOAN BARRON
Star-Tribune staff writers Tuesday, June 12, 2007
A lot of Republicans -- maybe 20, maybe more -- want
to replace the late Craig Thomas in the U.S. Senate,
State GOP Chairman Fred Parady said Monday.
Applicants already include recently resigned Wyoming
U.S. Attorney Matt Mead, state Rep. Colin Simpson of
Cody, state Sen. John Barrasso of Casper, and former
state GOP Chairman Tom Sansonetti of Cheyenne.
Parady on Monday outlined the process the party will
follow to nominate three candidates to replace Thomas,
who died last week at the age of 74. Democratic Gov.
Dave Freudenthal will then select the successor,
who'll serve until the 2008 general election.
Parady, former Wyoming House speaker, vowed to run the
process in a way that would honor Thomas.
"This process is open, it's comprehensive and it will
be fair, and our purpose is to select the best
possible three names to represent Wyoming in the
United States Senate," he said.
The deadline for applications is 5 p.m. Thursday,
Parady said. All applicants will be disclosed Friday,
but he will offer morning updates until then.
After a forum at Casper College with the candidates on
Sunday, the state Republican Central Committee will
meet June 19 in Casper to select the three who will be
presented to Freudenthal by June 20, Parady said.
With only days to campaign, the candidates were moving
Simpson, son of former U.S. Sen. Alan Simpson, said he
and his wife started on the road at 2 p.m. Sunday and
had already stopped in Lovell, Gillette, Sheridan and
Buffalo to meet and visit with members of the central
We'll see how far you can drive in five days, he
The central committee includes the state committeemen
and state committeewomen from all 23 counties, plus
the national committeeman and national committeewoman.
Simpson said he has been told that 40 of the 71
committee members are new, while some may have served
in the past and now returned.
Barrasso, an orthopedic surgeon, said he notified the
party chairman Monday of his intention to seek the
I hope it's an open process. The people of Wyoming
deserve it, Barrasso said.
Mead, grandson of former U.S. Sen. and Gov. Cliff
Hansen, resigned as the state's chief federal
prosecutor last week.
I have a good team put together, which is me and my
wife, Mead said. We're going to get in my pickup and
drive around and visit with central committee members
and answer any questions they have.
Mead said that both by law and conviction, he has
not been active in political campaigns because of his
job first as assistant U.S. attorney and then as U.S.
attorney for the past six years.
I understand a lot of people are expressing interest,
which is good for the party and good for Wyoming,"
Sansonetti, a longtime Republican Party activist and
federal government attorney, said he will make a
formal announcement of his candidacy today.
Secretary of State Max Maxfield on Monday removed
himself as a potential candidate.
Former State Treasurer Cynthia Lummis said she is
giving very serious consideration to applying.
And Frank Moore, who ranches northwest of Douglas,
said it is likely he will submit his name. Moore
served in the Legislature from 1992 to 1995.
State Treasurer Joe Meyer and state Sen. Eli Bebout, a
former House speaker from Riverton and former
gubernatorial candidate, said they haven't decided.
Several other potential candidates -- including Ray
Hunkins of Wheatland, a 2006 gubernatorial candidate;
Senate President John Schiffer of Kaycee; and Rep.
Becket Hinckley of Cheyenne -- could not be reached
for comment Monday.
Former state House Speaker Randall Luthi, now deputy
director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, said
earlier he was interested in applying for the
nomination. Luthi could not be reached Monday to
confirm his intentions.
A spokesperson for Lynne Cheney, wife of the vice
president, would not deny that she, too, was a
candidate for the U.S. Senate seat, according to The
The number of applicants probably will determine how
the central committee winnows the field of candidates
on June 19, Parady said.
If the number is large, the committee members probably
will use a tiered process and hear short statements
from all candidates, vote for three candidates, and
continue the process with the top eight, he said.
Then the process will become more intense with
nomination speeches, and a question-and-answer
session, Parady said. The meeting could last all day,
The committee will present the list of the three top
vote-getters to Freudenthal, who then has five days to
choose Thomas's replacement.
Party rules do not restrict candidates from lobbying
the central committee members.
"They're going to be very popular in the next 10
days," Parady said.
"Thankfully, I don't have a vote," he said. "My
purpose is to lead this process and do it well."
Parady declined to name anyone who has expressed
interest in the vacant seat.
"I've had a range of calls over the past eight days,"
Some questions have arisen on political blogs about
whether Wyoming's method of replacing U.S. Senate
vacancies -- allowing the party of the deceased to
choose candidates for a governor's consideration --
squares with the 17th Amendment, which states the
governor appoints the successor.
But Freudenthal himself has approved the system, so
Parady said he didn't see any problem with it.
The GOP expects the new senator will take office as
soon as possible, and the party would like the
applicant to run in a special election in 2008, Parady
said -- though the party could not legally bind a
candidate to running.
Wyoming voters will decide in a special election -- in
conjunction with the November 2008 general election --
who will serve the rest of what would have been
Thomas's term that would have ended in early 2013.
To Parady's knowledge, Thomas had not expressed any
preference for a successor before he died.
The GOP has no formal vetting procedure, Parady said.
The central committee may research the candidates, but
it does not conduct formal background checks.
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