Wealthy Wyoming philanthropist and conservative Christian political activist Foster Friess has become the second big name to consider running against the state’s incumbent Republican U.S. Senator John Barrasso next year.
Friess, who lives in Jackson, told media outlets this week that he was exploring a run.
“(D)ue to the stature of the people requesting, I sense a responsibility to prayerfully explore the possibility,” Friess wrote in an email to the Washington Post Monday.
Friess did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday.
Erik Prince, the founder of private security contractor Blackwater, confirmed on Monday that he was considering a run, attacking Barrasso as insufficiently conservative for Wyoming.
Erik Prince, a prominent security contractor based in Virginia with strong connections to President Donald Trump’s administration, is considering a run against Wyoming U.S. Sen. John Barrasso next year, several media outlets have reported.
“(F)rom the state of Wyoming, where the Republican wins with 75 percent of the vote typically, year to year – 75 percent! – the delegation from Wyoming should be the most rock-ribbed conservative,” Prince told Breitbart News. “They should be leading the charge on these issues, and not going along to get along. That’s why Mr. Barrasso needs a challenger.”
Focus on ‘civility’
In contrast, Friess did not attack Barrasso despite expressing interest in his seat. He told the Washington Examiner that Barrasso was “one of my heroes” and already excelled at the trait of civility, which Friess said would be his central campaign platform if he ran.
“I’d be willing to contemplate giving up a very pleasant lifestyle in order to try to move the divisiveness back to a greater sense of civility,” Friess said in an email to the Examiner.
Friess has been a major player in Republican party politics for several years, backing religious conservative Rick Santorum during the Pennsylvanian’s U.S. Senate campaign in 2006 and presidential race six years later.
On Friess’ website, the retired investor outlines a political worldview that calls on private corporations to solve problems in society.
“Foster believes that private individuals are called to carry others’ burdens—rather than relying on the government to do so,” his online biography reads.
The website also says that “a top priority” for Foster is helping “peaceful Muslims transcend the seventh-century ideology of coercion, intimidation, and violence that threatens us and them.”
He referred to political Islam as a greater danger than Nazism or Communism posed during the twentieth century.
Foster is also a prolific philanthropist. In 2010, he used his 70th birthday party as an opportunity to donate $7.7 million to charities suggested by his guests, including $630,000 to eight local organizations in Jackson, and leads the Lynn and Foster Friess Foundation.
Washington media outlets have reported that both Friess and Prince are being recruited by former Trump administration official and conservative media entrepreneur Steve Bannon as part of a battle against so-called “establishment” Republicans.
Barrasso falls into that category as the fourth-ranking Republican in the Senate. But unlike Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, President Donald Trump appears to be on good terms with Barrasso. Barrasso said the White House spoke to him about a cabinet appointment as Health and Human Services secretary earlier this month, though he withdrew his name from consideration.
“Senator Barrasso always prepared for the possibility of a primary campaign and he is well prepared,” chief of staff Dan Kunsman said in an email.