Delegate spat prompts calls for resignation

CASPER — The chairwoman of the Laramie County Republican Party is facing a vote Tuesday seeking her resignation after her local party was stripped of its voting power at the state GOP convention. 

The resolution cites the fact that Laramie County’s delegates were not seated at the 2022 Republican convention, which meant the local party received only three votes instead of the normal 37 based on population.

“The Chairman is ultimately responsible for the violation of bylaws in the conduct of the election,” the resolution continued. “We call upon the chairman, Dani Olsen, to resign as Chairman of the LCGOP.” 

The effort to oust Olsen comes after Laramie County Republicans violated a rule at their county convention. Specifically, Laramie County did not accept nominations from the floor or use secret ballots during the delegate selection process. 

That spurred a formal complaint by Ben Hornok, a Republican from Laramie County. Hornok is also the author of the resolution to unseat Olsen. 

In the aftermath, complaints were lodged against other county parties for minor rule violations. But those violations did not result in a loss of delegates for those counties. 

Laramie County GOP officials and members of a handful of other county parties said that the rules were being selectively enforced against Laramie because its leaders have clashed with state party officials (Natrona County, another party that clashes with state leadership, also had their delegates wiped over a dues-paying dispute). 

On the other hand, those in favor of punishing Laramie County said rules need to be enforced. 

Laramie County Republicans staged a walkout from the GOP convention Saturday following a vote by state party delegates to cut their delegation from 37 to three. 

In protest of the decision, almost all Laramie delegates — including John Sundahl, the husband of Rep. Liz Cheney challenger Harriet Hageman — walked through the center of the room and tossed or slammed their badges onto leadership’s desk. 

The series of complaints, resolutions and votes to remove delegates are the latest episode in broader “infighting” between traditional and hard-line factions within Wyoming’s Republican Party. 

“I am confident the resolution will fail by a large margin because I know that I truly do represent the views of the vast majority of Republicans in Laramie County and on our Central Committee,” Olsen said in a statement. “While there are a few dissenters, who continuously try to raise issues in the county, this resolution is merely a last-ditch effort on their part to attempt a power grab in our County since their efforts to get elected to County Party offices continue to fail.” 

The number of delegates — and therefore votes — each county gets to the convention are important because what’s passed at the convention can influence what bills the state Legislature drafts and passes. 

Although Hornok has spearheaded the effort to hold Laramie County accountable for its rule violation, he’s also expressed praise for Olsen, an email he sent shows. 

Two days after the March 5 convention, Hornok ran into Olsen in a store and he praised her for her work at the event, Olsen said. 

The rule violation at the convention was brought up at an executive committee meeting later in March, and Hornok then filed his complaint with the county party, which kicked the whole process off. 

A few weeks later, Hornok emailed a fellow Laramie Republican asking him to pass along more praise for Olsen. “ a side conversation, our chairman, Dani Olsen, told me that she had gotten there at 7 am, which was two hours after she had already been running around that morning getting things ready,” Hornok said in the email. “Her time, effort and hard work was evident in how smoothly the meeting was run. We all should be grateful to have a chairman that is hardworking to make that important event run so smoothly. I think she deserves a round of applause, even a standing ovation, for all the work that she did.” 

What’s more, Hornok stood before the room of hundreds of Republicans from across the state at the convention Saturday and asked them to seat Laramie County. His plea ultimately failed. 

Hornok declined to comment, saying “I don’t want to bias the discussion.” 

“I would prefer that it just be open and honest at our meeting,” he said. 

The Laramie County Republican Party Central Committee meeting is set for 6 p.m. Tuesday.