CHEYENNE, Wyo. — A new animal may be added this fall to the list of big game hunted in Wyoming.
That’s the political animal known as “Republicans in Name Only.” And one newly formed political action committee hopes to eventually hunt them into extinction within the Wyoming Republican Party.
The newly fashioned Conservative Republicans of Wyoming, or CROW for short, is mobilizing, forming a website and county committees. The group within the party has adopted the black bird as its symbol, and pledges to unite the Grand Old Party under a “rigorously conservative” banner.
The group believes the neglect of conservative priorities threatens the dominance of the Wyoming Republican Party because it emboldens those who wish to move the platform to the left, making the party more like the Democratic Party.
The neglect also continues to alienate the Republican conservative majority and encourages them to consider third political parties to better represent their values and interests, the CROW mission statement says.
‘Truth and reconciliation’
Part of the group’s strategy is to find conservative GOP candidates to run against RINOs. Another aspect of the group is to hold a “truth and reconciliation” process to bring the party into line with conservative principles, the website said.
Harlan Edmonds of Cheyenne, the state chairman of CROW, said this is a new political idea his group has been working on for a long time.
“This is unlike anything done in the past,” Edmonds said. “We have a lot of interest mainly at the grass-roots level. We’re not getting the same old activists that you see going from group to group.”
People who want to join CROW must be approved by the group’s leaders.
Legislators who have been accepted include Reps. Frank Peasley of Douglas; Alan Jaggi of Lyman and Bob Brechtel of Casper, Edmonds said.
Edmonds’ wife, Rep. Amy Edmonds of Cheyenne, is treasurer of the CROW group. Other officers from Cheyenne are Vice Chairman Bruce Perryman and State Secretary Christine L. Johnson.
Although the GOP platform is conservative, not all Republicans adhere to it, Edmonds said. The Wyoming Republican Party is so large and so dominant that it includes much variation in the political philosophy of its members, he said.
What this means is that voters who cast ballots for Republicans cannot be sure what they are getting, Edmonds said.
The new PAC will work during Republican primaries because party officials are required to be neutral and don’t care who signs up as a Republican.
“We think that’s a mistake. They should have people closer to the platform. If the party won’t do that, then it’s up to the rank and file of GOP members,” Edmonds said.
The PAC is just getting started and will not be effective in the Republican primaries this year, he said.
After everyone has filed, PAC officials will interview all the GOP candidates to see where they stand on CROW’s 12 conservative principles.The PAC will endorse candidates who agree with those principles.
The dozen principles begin with “the sovereign nature of God,” and touch on many conservative positions including the family as the foundation of civilization, the federal principle, limited taxation and “the primacy of Western civilization.”
Edmonds said the organization already has received some donations, is trying to set up provisional PACs in each county and will confer with other politically conservative groups.
The group also touts a truth-and-reconciliation process in which members can reconcile their political differences and re-establish conservative principles.
CROW describes the process in general as having been used when “the perpetrators of abuses, crimes and atrocities are given an opportunity to confess, repent and receive amnesty.”
The group goes on to say, “With regard to Wyoming GOP, a similar program of openness will be pursued by CROW with the goal of repairing rifts within the party and between Republican individuals. Grievances will be aired and opportunities for sincere apologies will be given.”
The newly minted PAC said it “has amassed extensive documentation of Republican elected officials and party officers who have deliberately undermined fellow Republicans, conservative legislation, and conservative principles in general.”
CROW also encourages members of the public to “submit evidence” for verification and posting in the process.
The PAC is not involved in the federal elections.
Jim King, professor of political science at the University of Wyoming, said Friday the PAC is interesting because it is a clear organizational movement to shape the Republican Party.
“Very clearly it’s an effort to try and bring the Republican Party back to what this group sees as what should be the core values of the Republican Party,” King said.
Tammy Hooper, chairwoman of the Wyoming Republican Party, said Friday that Harlan Edmonds has rented a table at the Republican state convention in Cheyenne, apparently to distribute information about the PAC.
She said she has not seen the CROW website.
However, Hooper said she doesn’t believe the movement will hurt the Republican Party.
“I can’t imagine that they want to elect Democrats,” Hooper said. “They’re probably no different from other PACS. They want to elect their specific candidates. They’re all out there trying to get the same dollars.”
Sen. Hank Coe, R-Cody, said he agreed with the CROW goals and efforts against the RINOs.
Coe said he knew of two or three members of the Senate who could be considered RINOs. Coe declined to name Senate colleagues who he considered RINOs.
Sen. Tony Ross, R-Cheyenne, said he believes the movement could be harmful to the party.
“I don’t feel threatened by it, but I’m wondering if it is more divisive than helpful,” Ross said.
He pointed out that people must be invited to be CROW members. Most Republicans, Ross said, can agree with the bulk of the committee’s mission statement and principles.