- Associated Press - Friday, May 16, 2014

ROCK SPRINGS, Wyo. (AP) - Wyoming Democrats are holding their state convention in Rock Springs and, for them, the question is: Who will step forward to carry the party’s torch in the governor’s race?

No Democrat in this overwhelmingly Republican state has declared a candidacy to oppose the likely GOP nominee, incumbent Gov. Matt Mead. It’s a reflection of the struggles of a party that hasn’t held a statewide political office since Gov. Dave Freudenthal stepped down in January 2011 after two terms.

“We’ll let them make announcements tomorrow,” party chairman Pete Gosar said Friday as he worked on drafting a Democratic platform.

There are fewer than 53,000 registered Wyoming Democrats, compared to more than 166,000 registered Republicans. In 2000, there were more than 65,000 Democrats versus 156,000 Republicans.

Candidate registration opened this week at the Secretary of State’s Office.

Democrat Charlie Hardy, a retired Catholic priest, has said he’s challenging incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. Mike Enzi. According to the Secretary of State’s Office, Hardy hadn’t registered his candidacy by the close of business on Thursday.

No Democrat has announced a challenge to Wyoming GOP Rep. Cynthia Lummis.

Gosar said he expects a pool of Democratic candidates to begin to emerge on Saturday and that they will be diverse and include business owners.

“I think that once our candidates hit the ground running here, coming forward, as they announce formally in the next two weeks, people will be surprised,” Gosar said.

Mike Ceballos, a retired telephone company executive from Cheyenne, has registered seeking the Democratic nomination to become the next state superintendent of public instruction. Ceballos has said he became involved in education issues during his business career.

The field of candidates is much more crowded on the Republican side.

In the governor’s race, Mead faces primary challenges from State Superintendent of Public Instruction Cindy Hill and Taylor Haynes, a retired Cheyenne physician. Jason Senteney, a state corrections officer from Yoder, has announced plans to challenge Lummis in the August GOP primary.

Four years ago, then-Democratic Party Chairwoman Leslie Petersen of Jackson ran for governor after no other Democratic candidate materialized. She lost to Mead in the general election.