June 15th, 2007
10:38 AM ET
9 years ago

Open Wyoming Senate seat draws 31 applications

A banner on the Wyoming GOP's Web site encourages applicants for the state's vacant Senate seat.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - After U.S. Senator Craig Thomas died of leukemia earlier this month, Republican leaders in his home state of Wyoming decided to employ a wide-open application process to find potential candidates for his vacant seat.

Any registered Republican who was a resident of Wyoming and met the age limit for a senator (at least 30) could throw his or her cowboy hat into the ring by filling out a two-page job application and submitting it to state party headquarters.

By Thursday's deadline, 31 people applied, including a host of current and former state legislators, two doctors, seven ranchers, a minister, a radio announcer and the manager of a truck stop company.

"Grassroots democracy is alive and well in Wyoming," said Fred Parady, the chairman of the state GOP, in a statement. "We have an energized citizenry and an eager group of applicants."

Sunday, the entire herd of candidates will be invited to take the stage at Casper College for a candidates' forum, which will be broadcast statewide. Parady said party leaders were still "finalizing procedures" for handling the large field of Senate hopefuls. After Sunday's forum, the GOP central committee will meet Tuesday to pick the three finalists to send to Gov. David Freudenthal, who will pick a new senator from the list.

Two of the candidates hail from families that are no stranger to the U.S. Senate State Rep. Colin Simpson of Cody is the son of former Sen. Alan Simpson and grandson of former Sen. Milward Simpson. Matt Mead of Jackson, who resigned last week from his post as U.S. attorney to seek Thomas' seat, is the grandson of former Sen. Cliff Hansen.

Some of the other higher-profile figures in the field of 27 men and four women are Tom Sansonetti, a Cheyenne lawyer who was once Thomas' chief-of-staff; former State Treasurer Cynthia Lummis; and Randall Luthi, a former state House speaker who is now deputy director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Washington.

However, one name not on the list is Wyoming's lone U.S. House member, seven-term Rep. Barbara Cubin, who announced shortly after Thomas' death she would not try to move over to the Senate. And although there was speculation about the possibility in local media, Lynne Cheney, wife of Vice President Dick Cheney, also did not apply.

- CNN's Richard Shumate

Filed under: Wyoming
soundoff (7 Responses)
  1. Dennis

    "Grassroots democracy is alive and well". But only 31 people, out of a population of more than a half-million, are interested in being considered for appointment to the U.S. Senate. I'd hate to see apathy.

    June 15, 2007 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  2. Phil Roberts, Laramie, Wyoming

    This process is the first test of a procedure that was set up in a law passed by the Republicans in the 1993 Wyoming Legislature. Democratic Gov. Mike Sullivan vetoed the law, but the "veto-proof" legislature overrode the governor's veto on straight party line votes in both Houses. Evidently, the Republicans felt Sullivan might serve "forever" or, at least, outlive Al Simpson or Malcolm Wallop who were Wyoming senators at the time. (Sullivan was in his second term and he had followed the three terms (12 years) served by Democrat Ed Herschler.

    June 15, 2007 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  3. dras alliance, ohio

    I'm sorry to read that Lynne Cheney, wife of Vice President did not apply.
    So I guess that there really are some real Republicans in Wyoming after all and the party isn't going to make a mockery of this Senate Seat.
    I wanted Lynne Cheney to assume the seat for many reasons with the biggest her become a public person and a good target for the press.

    June 15, 2007 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  4. John Yakima WA

    Could some one out there please tell this comment section why only Republicans are being allowed to apply? Can't the Governor nominate anyone from any party?

    June 16, 2007 01:47 am at 1:47 am |
  5. Bob t, Cleve, Oh

    Grassroots democracy is alive and well. Wow, that is the height of hypocrisy coming from a republican.

    June 16, 2007 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  6. Ginny Rusch-Mills, Flora, IN

    John Yakima, WA
    Read about what the policy is if a legislator dies or leaves a seat open in Wyoming, John. As I understand it, it doesn't matter what party the Governor of the State of Wyoming belongs to, it depends on the political party of the deceased, in this case, Republican. The Republicans must send three nominations to the Governor and then he makes the appointment. Therefore, only Republicans may apply. Go to TPM to find out more: http://www.talingpointsmemo.com to find out more.

    June 17, 2007 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  7. Sandra Atkins

    Grass roots grow on both sides of the aisle. For an interesting first hand look at what the process is check out http://www.wheaterville.com It's an online commentary on a little Wyoming town, Wheatland, from which a few (three?) of the original 31 candidates hail.

    June 20, 2007 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |