Former President Donald Trump made endorsements in three of Wyoming’s state races Friday evening.
He announced his support for incumbent Curt Meier in the state treasurer race, Rep. Chuck Gray, R-Casper, in the secretary of state race and Brian Schroeder in the superintendent of public instruction race.
Both the superintendent of public instruction and the secretary of state races appear to be close, heated races, and Trump threw his support behind the two most hard-line Republicans in those races.
Gray is running as somewhat of a 2020 election denier, although he hasn’t said outright that it was stolen for President Joe Biden. Gray frequently hones in on banning ballot drop boxes, which have become a target after the movie “2000 Mules” was released, a film that unsuccessfully claims to demonstrate widespread voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election. Gray has also sponsored numerous showings of the movie throughout Wyoming while on the campaign trail.
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According to a database maintained by the right-leaning Heritage Foundation, Wyoming has seen just three instances of voter fraud in 40 years, and none since 2014.
“I continue for the endorsement and the vote of the people of Wyoming,” said Gray’s opponent Sen. Tara Nethercott, R-Cheyenne.
Neither of the two are incumbents, as current Secretary of State Ed Buchanan plans to vacate his post to take a position as a judge.
Gov. Mark Gordon appointed Schroeder to the position of superintendent in January after former superintendent Jillian Balow left to take a similar job in Virginia. Now he’s running for election to the post against four other candidates — three Republicans and one Democrat.
Another former Republican candidate, Thomas Kelly, dropped out of the race on Monday to cast his vote for Schroeder.
“Brian is the only other candidate who really seems to get the federal government attempts to influence Wyoming through monetary policy, and he’s more likely to win that I am,” Kelly told the Star-Tribune on Tuesday. “It didn’t make any sense for me to stay in for my own personal ego.”
Schroeder is the former head of Veritas Academy, a private Christian school in Cody, and has experience as a family and youth coordinator and as a teacher and administrator in private schools in California, Wisconsin, Michigan and Wyoming.
He’s deeply conservative; he’s called for Wyoming to enact a law similar to Florida’s Parental Rights in Education Act, which, among other things, “prohibits classroom discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity in certain grade levels.” He advocates for more parental control in public schools. He opposes the teaching of critical race theory (which is not currently taught in Wyoming public schools).
The other Republican candidates in the superintendent race are Megan Degenfelder, formerly chief policy officer at the education department and currently the government and regulatory affairs manager for Morningstar Partners Oil & Gas, Casper-based substitute teacher and cosmetologist Jennifer Zerba and underground trona miner Robert White.
Trump has risen to a new level of importance in Wyoming after Rep. Liz Cheney became one of his main political adversaries when she voted to impeach him over the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, continually criticized him and served as vice chairwoman of the Jan. 6 committee. He endorsed land attorney Harriet Hageman nearly a year ago to unseat Cheney.
There has so far been no endorsement in the Wyoming governor’s race, in which Gordon is being challenged by retired colonel Brent Bien and veterinarian Rex Rammell.
“We found it to be important to pursue the voters of Wyoming,” said Sam Rubino, Bien’s campaign manager. “It takes a lot to get that endorsement and we’re a late momentum campaign. We’re the most pro trump campaign there is.”
The primary elections end on Aug. 16. After that, the winning Republican candidates will face off in the general elections, where many of them are suspected to coast to victory in one of the reddest states in the nation.
Follow state politics reporter Victoria Eavis on Twitter @Victoria_Eavis