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No rush to adopt prez primary in state, leaders say

Mar 18, 2016 By Mead Gruver, The Associated Press

Wyoming has state primary, but still does presidential caucusing

Grumbling about Wyoming's complicated caucusing is on the rise but Republican and Democratic party leaders in the state are in no rush to switch to a presidential primary, where anybody can just walk in and vote for their preferred presidential nominee.

After all, they've got four years until the next presidential cycle. Meanwhile, the topic heads to a legislative committee for study before the next legislative session.

Fremont County Republicans heard about the primary election concept last week during the Fre-mont County Republican convention in Riverton.

"I personally see good in both systems. I see downsides in both systems. I understand concerns and some of the frustrations of people who want to show up and pull a lever," Wyoming Republican Party Chairman Matt Micheli said.

State topic

Switching to a primary should be a hot topic at the Republican state convention April 14-16 in Casper, he added.

Confusion still abounds in Wyoming about when citizens get to vote this year for Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, or somebody else, said Bob Rule, owner of KPIN Radio in Pinedale and GOP state committeeman from Sublette County.

"Even yesterday I had a person call in and ask when do we get to vote for the presidential nominee. The people of Wyoming do not understand the Republican method. It is very, very confusing to them," Rule said Thursday.

Current delegate process

He said he does his best to explain the process on his local "junk for sale" show. In a nutshell, it works like this:

- Republicans held precinct caucuses in February and March that decided who took part in county conventions last Saturday that chose 12 of the state's 29 national GOP delegates and decided who participates in the upcoming state convention. Republicans will choose another 14 national delegates at the state convention.

Three others are automatic.

- Democrats will hold county conventions April 9 that will decide who participates in the state convention May 28 in Cheyenne, where 14 national delegates will be at stake. Four others are automatic "superdelegates."

Wyoming already holds a public primary in August to decide the party nominees for state and federal offices besides president. By then the national party conventions usually are over, so a presidential primary would have to take place separately earlier in the year.

Wyoming Democrats haven't taken an official position on caucuses or primaries and will await the legislative committee study, Wyoming Democratic Party Executive Director Aimee Van Cleave said.

"Of course we're a party with many diverse opinions on this. Some folks are just fine with the caucus system and think if it's not broke, don't fix it," she said.

The Legislature's Joint Corporations, Elections and Political Subdivisions Committee ranks studying a primary system close to the bottom of its priorities over the interim. The committee, which got assigned the topic by the Management Council, doesn't plan to take it up until September, said Dan Zwonitzer, the Republican co-chairman of the corporations committee.

"I don't even know if my committee even likes the caucus process," Zwonitzer said.

Wyoming Secretary of State Ed Murray, a Republican, is glad a primary will be studied. A primary could eliminate confusion and hopefully increase participation but could be expensive, he said in a prepared statement.

The state primary election is Aug. 16.

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2017-10-20