Casper, Wyo. • With one month to go until his 3rd Congressional District primary election, every second leading up to June 28 is crucial for Republican Chris Herrod, who is hoping to unseat incumbent John Curtis. The only finite resource in politics is time, so it was surprising to find the Republican hundreds of miles away from Utah in the middle of Wyoming on Saturday.
Herrod made the trek from Utah to Casper, Wyoming, to hear former President Donald Trump speak, hopefully get some face time, and maybe win an endorsement, which he says was worth giving up a day of campaigning.
“We’ve been working our network for the past few months trying to get his (Trump) endorsement. We’ve put our papers in, and it’s under review. Hopefully, it pays off,” Herrod said.
Herrod wasn’t the only Utah Republican hoping to curry favor with Trump on Saturday. There too was Andrew Badger, who is challenging freshman Blake Moore in House District 1, and hoping to catch Trump’s eye.
It’s not clear whether they had any success convincing the former president to bestow his stamp of approval.
Trump journeyed to Casper on Saturday to endorse Harriet Hageman, challenging Rep. Liz Cheney this year. Cheney has drawn the wrath of the former president for refusing to go along with his false claims about the 2020 election being stolen from him. Along with Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger, Cheney is also one of two Republicans on the House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.
“Few members of Congress have caused more damage than Liz Cheney. No RINO (Republican in Name Only) has thrown their lot in with the radical left than Liz Cheney,” Trump said.
Trump spoke for more than 90 minutes on Saturday to a packed house of nearly 11,000 people who hung on his every word.
It would be politically risky for Trump to endorse Herrod or Badger. Despite winning the delegate vote at the state convention, they are considered long shots to win next month. Several of his recent high-profile endorsees have suffered embarrassing losses recently. David Purdue, who Trump recruited to run against Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, got shellacked last week. Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffenspurger, who refused to help Trump reverse his loss in that state in 2020, also fought off a Trump-backed challenger.
Utah GOP Chairman Carson Jorgensen hopped a plane with Attorney General Sean Reyes to make a last-minute trip to the Wyoming event. He was able to get a few seconds of one-on-one time with the former commander-in-chief.
“The energy was good. The crowd was electric. Trump had people eating out of the palm of his hand,” Jorgensen said.
Reyes grabbed a coveted speaking spot during the rally, where he appeared to be fine-tuning his message ahead of a likely run for U.S. Senate against Mitt Romney in 2024.
“The federal government is coming for your lands. We’ll continue the fight against the federal government. When the Department of Education tries to force the curriculum upon our children, their students tell them that they were bigots by birth, telling them that America is irredeemable. When Roe v. Wade is overturned, and the left-wing goes after those who support the sanctity of life for the unborn, we will stand with Wyoming and stand with America,” Reyes said.
Trump is reportedly urging Reyes to mount a challenge against Romney in two years.
Speaking of Romney, nobody brought him up on Saturday.
Attacking Romney, a frequent critic of Trump, is usually an easy and cheap applause line for a pro-Trump crowd. Romney was mentioned just once Saturday when Arizona Rep. Andy Biggs used him to smear Cheney and boost Hageman.
“We don’t need any more Mitt Romney’s, and we don’t need any more Liz Cheney’s,” Biggs said.
During his 100-minute tour de force, even Trump did not take time to swipe at Romney, a frequent punching bag for the former president.
From Jorgensen’s perspective, Trump didn’t need to go there to win over the crowd.
“This was a red-meat event that focused on issues really important to voters in the Mountain West,” Jorgensen said. “Rising prices, energy production and safety. Trump connected with those concerns, which is why today was a success.”