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Wyoming GOP censures Gov. Gordon over gun, property tax vetoes 

The Wyoming Republican Party State Convention features three days of discussion and votes on numerous topics. (Maya Shimizu Harris/WyoFile)


A majority of delegates at the state GOP convention approved the censure, which criticizes Gordon’s vetoes of a property tax bill and a measure to repeal gun-free zones, without debate following the resolution’s narrow approval in a committee on Friday.


By Maya Shimizu Harris,

CHEYENNE—The Wyoming Republican Party voted Saturday to censure Gov. Mark Gordon following his vetoes of two bills passed by the Legislature early this year. 

The full body at the GOP’s state convention adopted the censure on a consent list, meaning they approved the resolution along with several others and didn’t debate the action. However, one delegate did attempt to pull the resolution from the list. The adoption follows the state GOP resolutions committee’s narrow approval of the censure on Friday. 

Wyoming’s far right has been critical of Gordon before. But he further angered many Republicans last month when he rejected a property tax relief measure and legislation that would have done away with many of the state’s gun-free zones.

“The Governor supports everyone’s First Amendment right to have and share their opinions,” a spokesperson for the governor said in a written response to the censure. “Our traditional, conservative Grand Old Party policies are the bedrock of a free and civil society.”

The statement goes on to say, however, that the “traditions, decorum and civility of the party’s actions should be of great concern to all,” claiming such actions as the censure “merely hinder our ability to fight the harmful policies of the Biden Administration and future Democratic administrations that are hostile to Wyoming’s legacy industries, values and people.” 

Gordon “stands behind his decision to use [his] Constitutional right to veto flawed legislation,” the statement said.  


Growing tensions, veto anger

The censure is the latest outcry from members of the Wyoming GOP against the governor — whom some believe to be too moderate. Converse County GOP Chairman Jim Creaser, who brought the censure to the state convention, went as far as calling Gordon a “Democrat disguised as a Republican.” 

The last time the Wyoming GOP tried but failed to censure a governor was in 2014 when former Gov. Matt Mead was in office. (Like Gordon, Mead faced criticism from his right flank.) While censures carry no practical effect, they serve as symbolic reprimands.

Saturday’s vote is another episode demonstrating the divisions within the Wyoming GOP, which has fractured in recent years over the party’s direction and disagreements regarding who and who doesn’t qualify as a Republican.

The resolution, which originated with the Park County GOP, specifically criticized Gordon’s veto of a property tax relief bill and a measure that would have repealed gun-free zones in Wyoming. 

The resolution specifically takes aim at Gordon’s veto of Senate File 54 – Homeowner tax exemption, which would have applied a 25% exemption to the first $2 million of a home’s fair market value.

The governor’s spokesperson said in an additional statement Saturday that Gordon’s veto of the legislation “reflects the fact that he was not interested in giving 25% tax cuts to millionaires and billionaires, including those who just moved to Wyoming and were part of the very reason that longtime residents saw their assessments increase.”

Gordon described the measure in his veto letter as “a socialistic-type of wealth transfer,” “a Bidenomic-type of ‘tax relief’” and an example of “electioneering exuberance” in the legislative session — language that the resolution said “added insult to injury.” 

Property tax relief was a major priority for lawmakers. Several relief bills cleared the Legislature, and Gordon signed four into law. 

The governor’s office noted Saturday that Gordon also “supports passage of the proposed Wyoming Constitutional Amendment that will allow Wyoming voters the opportunity to permanently lower property taxes for our homeowners.” 

The resolution also criticized Gordon’s veto of House Bill 125 – Repeal gun free zones and preemption amendments — which would have nixed most gun-free zones in Wyoming and allowed people with concealed carry permits to bring firearms into most public spaces overseen by the state.

He signed into law this year four other measures that he described as “Second-Amendment friendly” — a point that his office emphasized in its Saturday statement — but argued in his veto letter on HB 125 that the measure “erodes historic local control norms by giving sole authority to the Legislature to micromanage a constitutionally protected right.” 

Though he vetoed HB 125, Gordon later directed the State Building Commission — which includes himself, the secretary of state, the state auditor, the state treasurer and the superintendent of public instruction — to reconsider its rules to allow people to bring firearms into “the Capitol and other appropriate state facilities.” 

The censure follows the Wyoming GOP’s November vote of no confidence against Gordon in response to a speech he delivered at Harvard University during which he touted his “carbon negative” approach to energy policy. 


Increasing attempts 

Gordon is the latest but certainly not the only Wyoming elected who has been censured by the Wyoming GOP, which has increased its use of such official reprimands in recent years. 

Last year, some county GOPs tried unsuccessfully to censure Wyoming’s Sen. Cynthia Lummis for her vote in favor of the Respect for Marriage Act, which codified the right to same-sex marriage in federal law. In 2021, the Wyoming GOP censured former congressional Rep. Liz Cheney and later voted to no longer recognize her as a Republican for her criticism of former president Donald Trump following the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol. 

The Wyoming GOP has also censured several state lawmakers and Republican Party leaders, most recently including Rep. Cyrus Western (R-Big Horn) and Sen. Cale Case (R-Lander).

“The Governor disagrees with this censure — done without debate — which infringes on the Wyoming values and voices that elected him with the largest percentage of votes in the primary and general elections of 2022,” the governor’s spokesperson said in an additional statement Saturday.

WyoFile is an independent nonprofit news organization focused on Wyoming people, places and policy.

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