- The Washington Times - Friday, January 4, 2008

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — Don’t forget Wyoming.

It has been overlooked in the hoopla surrounding last night’s Iowa caucuses and next week’s New Hampshire primary, but Wyoming Republicans will caucus tomorrow and choose delegates to the national convention in September.

Candidates have paid little attention to the state, though.

Mitt Romney, Fred Thompson, Rep. Duncan Hunter and Rep. Ron Paul have passed through since September. Mike Huckabee, Rudolph W. Giuliani and Sen. John McCain have not.

“Yes, there have been some appearances by the candidates in this state that otherwise wouldn’t have occurred this early in the process,” said Jim King, who teaches political science at the University of Wyoming. “But candidates are where the media are — in Iowa and New Hampshire.”

So far, no candidate has announced plans to head west for the state Republican Party’s county conventions tomorrow. An exception could be Mr. Hunter, who has been to several of the state’s major cities and held out the prospect of a last-minute visit. His wife spent part of her childhood in Wheatland, in southeastern Wyoming.

Whether anyone has an advantage is unknown. No public polling has been conducted, and those familiar with the results of the Republican precinct caucuses held last month said no clear candidate emerged when delegates to the county conventions were selected.

Wyoming’s Republicans had hoped to draw attention by holding their caucuses a full month before most other states. But as states jockeyed to schedule their nominating contests earlier and earlier on the 2008 calendar, Wyoming unexpectedly found itself sandwiched between Iowa and New Hampshire.

Jan Larimer, Wyoming’s Republican national committeewoman, said her area — Teton County, in western Wyoming — turned out several Romney and Paul supporters at the precinct caucuses. About one-fourth of the county convention delegates were chosen at the precinct caucuses.

Mrs. Larimer said other counties leaned toward other candidates, and she could not gauge whether anyone had statewide momentum.

“It’s just an absolute mixed bag from county to county,” she said.

Wyoming’s top Republicans have given relatively few endorsements. Former Gov. Jim Geringer has backed Mr. Huckabee, while State Auditor Rita Meyer has said she supports Mr. Romney.

Mrs. Larimer said fellow Republicans tend to like certain things about different candidates.

“They would like to take a little bit from three or four candidates and put them together to get the ideal candidate,” she said.

Given state party rules, some of the delegates chosen this weekend may not be committed to a particular candidate, Mrs. Larimer said.

Wyoming has paid a price for scheduling the caucuses before Feb. 5 — the date the national Republican Party chose as the earliest that states can choose national delegates. Wyoming, New Hampshire, Florida, South Carolina and Michigan will lose half of their delegates to the national convention in September.

Mr. King said Wyoming has gained little clout because the press follows the candidates and vice versa, and Wyoming has few, if any, major news outlets.

“The Wyoming results will be noted in the press,” he said. “But they’re not going to carry any significant weight.”

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