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Wyoming Politics

Wyoming has rare 2-way race for House speaker position

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Steven Girt/GirtCommunications
Wyoming Capitol

CASPER, Wyo. (AP) - Two Republican lawmakers will compete on Saturday to determine which one will become the next speaker of the Wyoming House of Representatives.

Lawmakers will vote to choose either House Majority Leader Eric Barlow or Rep. Mark Jennings to replace outgoing Speaker of the House Steve Harshman.

The two-year speaker position traditionally goes to whoever has held the house majority leader job, making this year's selection process unusual, the Casper Star-Tribune reported on Thursday.

In an attempt to influence the process that the newspaper described as unprecedented, House lawmakers received dozens of emails from Republican advocates attempting to influence the vote for speaker and other House leadership positions.

Traditionally, the selection process has been debated internally by members of the Legislature.

"I have never, in eight terms, seen emails trying to influence the election for speaker of the house," said Republican Rep. Dan Zwonitzer one of the longest serving members of the Wyoming House of Representatives.

He added: "It just has never happened. There have been former legislators who retired or didn't win their races who would email us with the name of the person we should pick and send it to newer members, but I've never seen outside people who were not legislators feel compelled to email the rest of us on who we should select for leadership."

Among those seeking to influence the vote was Dan Brophy, a state GOP donor who supported far-right candidates in their bids to unseat more moderate Republicans in the summer's primaries.

Brophy told the Star-Tribune his effort was intended at reaching his "own circle of contacts," and that the House leadership elections are internal matters "to be hashed out among the members."

Jennings said that the long-standing tradition of the speaker job going to the majority leader was broken two years ago when Harshman took the rare step of running for a second term.

Barlow did not respond to phone and email requests for comment from the Casper Star-Tribune.

Local News / News / Politics / Top Stories / Wyoming

Associated Press

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