January 5, 2008
Romney, Thompson Seek Wyoming 'Big Mo'By Rick Moran
Fresh off of disappointing finishes in Iowa, Mitt Romney and Fred Thompson are hoping to rebound on Saturday when Wyoming Republicans gather in county conventions across the state to choose delegates to attend the national convention in September.
Both candidates shelled out $10,000 each for a precious list of party members who are eligible to participate in the 23 county conventions, and it would appear from press reports that they have been the most active in contacting potential delegates.
Convention attendees are mainly precinct committee members, but about a quarter of the total were chosen at precinct caucuses last month. The contest to be a delegate to the Minneapolis-St. Paul convention is wide open. A potential delegate can either have a friend nominate them or they can nominate themselves, at which point, they get a chance to get up and make a statement in favor of their candidacy. It is expected that the delegate candidates will announce their presidential preference in order to draw as much support as possible. Questions can be directed at the candidates, after which voting will commence. The vote will continue until one delegate receives 50% + 1 of the convention.
It sounds simple and it is. The problem is that no one is paying any attention.
Last February, the state GOP had the idea that they could grab some attention for Wyoming by jumping ahead of almost every other state and holding their county conventions "on the same day as the New Hampshire primary" then scheduled for January 22. As the year went on, however, state after state begun trying to leapfrog New Hampshire and Iowa which led to the debacle of Iowa and New Hampshire constantly having to readjust their own nominating contests to keep ahead of the pack.
After the dust settled, Wyoming decided in August to squeeze its county conventions in between the Iowa Caucuses and New Hampshire primary by holding the event on January 5.
Now I have nothing against Wyomites. But asking "What were they thinking?" is not out line. The consequences to the state party have been heavy with very little in the way of a payoff in either media exposore (zero) or visits by the potential next President of the United States. John McCain, Mike Huckabee and Rudy Giuliani never bothered to show up at all. Mitt Romny is the only candidate with an office in the state.
Fred Thompson, on the other hand, has worked the state hard. He visited Wyoming back in September and has a network of supporters throughout the state who have been touting his candidacy. Thompson may also have a secret weapon. Dick Cheney's daughter Liz is a supporter, although it is unknown just how much influence she may wield. Other high profile endorsements include former Gov. Jim Geringer who is has backing Mike Huckabee and State Auditor Rita Meyer who has said she supports Romney.
But the price the Wyoming GOP paid for their shot at fame was steep. The Wyoming Tribune-Eagle blasted the decision to hold the conventions now:
Starting with only 28 total delegates to begin with, the loss of 14 delegates (the party has decided that all delegates chosen at the conventions will get to attend the convention) would seem to be a huge price to pay simply to get a few candidates to come into the state for a drop by. But then, judging by comments made to the media , party leaders seem reasonably pleased at how things turned out.
It will be one of the more interesting facets of the upcoming party conventions to see if the RNC and DNC go ahead and deny Michigan and Florida -- two of the ten most populus states in the union -- half their delegates or, in the case of the Democrats, all of them. Dare they risk alienating so many voters by denying their states full representation in choosing a party leader? Of course, if they forgive the two biggest states their sins it would stand to reason they would allow the other three states full representation as well.
No polls have been done but press reports indicate that the contest could be between Thompson and Romney based on the declared support for both candidates. If Romney wins, it may assuage some of the sting from his Iowa loss while demonstrating some strength in one of the most Republican states in the nation.
But the candidate who would gain the most with a victory in Wyoming is Fred Thompson. The last two weeks in Iowa saw a slow but steady increase in support for the former Tennessee Senator, which allowed him to finish in a virtual tie with John McCain for third place. A win in Wyoming would energize the "Fredheads" for a run at the South Carolina primary on January 19th, which Thompson led at one point in the polls but has fallen back considerably with the rise of the other southerner in the race, Mike Huckabee.
But Thompson is confident he can come back in South Carolina and a win in Wyoming would prove -- at least to his supporters -- that he is still indeed a viable candidate with a shot at getting back into the race with both feet if he can secure a victory in the Palmetto State.
The stakes then are not very large. But for some of the candidates, The Cowboy State might give them just the boost they need to become competitive.
Rick Moran is associate editor of American Thinker and proprietor of the website Rightwing Nuthouse.