CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — Republicans taking part in Wyoming’s final clutch of precinct caucuses Tuesday are agitated amid energy industry downturns that have stunted the state economy and federal regulations they believe are holding back growth.
The state’s overwhelmingly dominant party has been caucusing since mid-February to begin figuring out which GOP candidate would be most likely to turn things around.
The precinct caucuses feature lively debates about presidential candidates, but they don’t provide a clear look at how Wyoming is leaning. This year, the state GOP is collecting no statewide results before the selection of 12 national delegates at county conventions March 12.
Wyoming Republicans are looking for a candidate who understands their values and will work to reverse Obama administration policies, state party Chairman Matt Micheli said.
Republicans here especially dislike federal climate-change regulations that would push even more utilities away from coal-fired electricity.
It’s the country’s least populous state, and its politics lean heavily Republican. Under national party rules, that gives Wyoming an outsized share of 29 delegates to the Republican National Convention in Cleveland in July.
“Wyoming has more delegates than 14 other states,” Micheli said. “Our Wyoming voice is a big opportunity to make a difference in the presidential election.”
A couple of presidential candidates have tried to capitalize on that outsized voice and have spoken to Wyoming Republicans’ concerns.
“We will end this administration’s war on coal,” Texas Sen. Ted Cruz thundered as a couple of hundred people cheered at an August rally on a ranch near Cheyenne.
Republican precinct caucusing already has taken place in 14 Wyoming counties over the past couple of weeks. On Tuesday, Republicans in the precincts of nine more counties — Albany, Converse, Laramie, Lincoln, Natrona, Park, Platte, Sweetwater and Teton — will choose delegates to the party’s March 12 county conventions.
Twelve of Wyoming’s 23 counties will choose delegates to the national convention at their county conventions. Twelve counties will choose alternates. Laramie County will pick both a delegate and an alternate to the national convention.
Another 14 national delegates will be selected at the Republican state convention April 14-16 in Casper. The other three are the state GOP chairman, RNC committeeman and RNC committeewoman.
Besides Cruz, other Republican presidential candidates who have made it to Wyoming include Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, whose libertarian views drew more men in cowboy hats than usually seen in Cheyenne. Paul suspended his campaign after the rally last summer.
Former Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal dropped out the day after he spoke in Cheyenne in November.
Rubio sent a proxy — Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner — to stump for him at a recent Laramie County Republican Party event.
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