The Wyoming Republican Party Thursday evening released a final list of 31 individuals who had submitted applications to replace the late Sen. Craig Thomas (R) by the 5 p.m. Mountain Time deadline — and Lynne Cheney, wife of Vice President Cheney, was not among them.
The list appeared to offer few surprises, and is headed by known interested parties like Colin Simpson, the Majority Floor Leader of the Wyoming House of Representatives and the son of former Sen. Alan Simpson (R-Wyo.); just-resigned U.S. Attorney Matt Mead, the grandson of a former governor and Senator; and state Sen. John Barrasso.
“It’s got breadth and depth, there are insiders and outsiders,” state GOP Chairman Fred Parady said of the list, in a brief telephone interview. “It’s a great day for democracy. Now we have to go to work.”
That work involves a vote by the Wyoming Republican Party Central Committee, which is scheduled for Tuesday, preceded by a public candidate forum tentatively set for Sunday. The forum will be broadcast statewide and Tuesday’s vote will be open to the public.
The 31 candidates vying to replace Thomas, who died on June 4, hail from 15 of the state’s 23 counties, and include attorney Tom Sansonetti, a former Thomas staffer who served in the Justice Department from 2001-2005; state Rep. Dave Edwards; and state Sen. Cale Case.
All candidates will be allowed to make their case to the 71-member panel on Tuesday, when an initial round of voting will be held to pare the field down to eight. Once that occurs, the remaining candidates will be allowed to have a third party deliver a nominating speech on their behalf if they choose, after which those vying for the Senate seat will make remarks of their own and participate in a question-and-answer session with GOP committee members.
The top three vote-getters in the secret-ballot selection will be submitted to Gov. Dave Freudenthal (D), who will choose Thomas’ replacement from among them. The individual selected by Freudenthal will serve until the end of 2008, and has the option of running for the remaining four years of Thomas’ term in next year’s general election.