- Associated Press - Wednesday, June 29, 2016

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - Donald Trump has essentially unanimous support among Republican candidates for Wyoming’s lone U.S. House seat but enthusiasm for the billionaire New Yorker ranges from wholehearted to tepid and hesitant to get on board before Trump formally gets nominated.

Trump appears genuinely conservative now despite supporting Democrats in the past, said Cheyenne attorney Darin Smith, who described Trump as his kind of guy.

“He’s fiscally conservative. He’s socially sound. He’s pro-gun, pro-family, pro-business, pro-energy sector, pro-agriculture, pro-veteran. Those are the things I like,” said Smith.

Smith is one of nine Republicans seeking the party’s nomination to replace Republican Rep. Cynthia Lummis, who is not seeking a fifth term. Several candidates described Trump as a vastly better option than Hillary Clinton.

“We’ve got to unite behind Trump,” said Liz Cheney. “No matter who our candidate is, there will be disagreements on certain areas of policy. I don’t agree with any Republican, probably, on everything.”

Wait-and-see-on-Trump candidates include state Sen. Leland Christensen and Torrington corrections officer Jason Senteney, who said Trump rubbed him the wrong way by comparing his time in a military-themed prep school to real military training.

“Unless you actually serve in the military, unless you’ve actually signed that dotted line and been there to put basically yourself on the line for our freedom, you don’t compare yourself to that,” said Senteney, who served in the U.S. Marine Corps after high school.

Trump has yet to campaign in Wyoming, which went heavily for Texas Sen. Ted Cruz in presidential caucuses this past spring. Only one of Wyoming’s 29 delegates to the Republican National Convention has committed to support Trump.

Twenty-six delegates support Cruz, one backs Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and one is uncommitted. State Rep. Tim Stubson, who was Rubio’s campaign chairman for Wyoming, said he will vote for Trump despite a potentially long list of areas of disagreement.

“His views on trade diverge from me. His view on prohibiting people from entering the country based simply on their religious affiliation contradicts with my views,” said Stubson.

Perhaps the most Trump-like candidate in the race, Gillette veterinarian Rex Rammell, criticized “national establishment politicians” for not supporting Trump.

“I’m kind of outspoken myself and not always politically correct. So I can relate to him to some degree,” Rammell said. “I’m a little more careful with what I say and some of the positions I take.”

But whether or not Republicans rally around Trump at the party’s national convention in Cleveland next month will be interesting to see, said Christensen.

For now, Christensen gives Trump the benefit of the doubt he could be a good president.

“Ronald Reagan was mocked as just an actor. And then I think some of the hopes and anticipations for the current president haven’t panned out the way some folks thought they would,” he said.

“I think everybody has questions but that’s probably typical,” Christensen added. “In my years I’m not sure I’ve seen a candidate that had this many questions about him.”


Follow Mead Gruver at https://twitter.com/meadgruver

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