SHERIDAN — Laramie County lost the bulk of its representation at the Wyoming Republican Party state convention Saturday morning. After nearly two hours of procedural maneuvering and debate, the body voted not to seat all 37 delegates from the state’s most populous county.
The lack of delegates from the county meant Republicans from that area had a diminished voice in the remaining business of the convention, including consideration of state bylaws, resolutions and platforms.
Following the vote, the Laramie County delegation filed out of the Sheridan County Fairgrounds Exhibit Hall, placing their delegate credentials on the head table as they left. Some delegates from other counties cheered or applauded.
Dani Olsen, chair of the Laramie County Republican Party, said the decision to target her county and its delegates was a “bullying” tactic resulting from the county’s contentious history with the statewide party.
Laramie County supported Natrona County when efforts began to limit that county's delegates as well. Olsen noted county delegates who supported Laramie County Saturday now fear retribution from the state party and those who sought to punish Laramie County for rules violations at its county convention, where its delegates to the state convention were chosen.
“We’ve set a precedent now,” Olsen said. “That the state party can target counties it disagrees with or doesn’t like.”
The vote not to seat the Laramie County delegation — which would have included 37 individuals, the most for any county in the state — followed after nearly two hours of debate and procedural motions.
Saturday morning, motions were made to amend the state Republican Party’s credentials committee recommendation, which proposed seating 285 delegates for the convention, a number that included only three delegates from Laramie County.
Other delegates called for the five individuals in leadership positions within the Laramie County party to voluntarily turn over their credentials and not participate in the convention.
“I would urge the top five in leadership to take accountability for the failure to do their job,” Sheridan County’s Bryan Miller said during the debate.
Olsen said she and the other leaders in the county party opted to turn over their credentials with the hopes of giving the other delegates from Laramie County the opportunity to have their voices heard during the convention. But, a vote to seat the remaining 32 delegates from Laramie County failed, with a tally of 119-157.
In the end, the delegates from Wyoming’s 22 other counties voted to support the original recommendation from the credentials committee with a simple voice vote.
Following the vote, Laramie County delegates gathered outside the exhibit hall discussing the morning’s events. Many noted the state party ignored rules violations by other counties, choosing only to punish Laramie County. Similar arguments had been brought up in the credentials committee meeting Thursday.
“They’re picking and choosing which bylaws to enforce and which not to in order to reach the outcome they want,” Olsen said.
Nathan Winters of Laramie County spoke on the floor of the convention, noting a decision not to seat his county’s delegates would likely create an even more acrimonious future between the county and the state party.
While three delegates from Laramie County could still participate in the convention, following the vote, most stood outside and it was unclear whether they would rejoin the event.