Wyoming governor candidate eligibility questioned
CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — State attorneys are asking a state district court judge to determine whether Republican gubernatorial candidate Taylor Haynes is eligible to hold the office and to order Haynes to withdraw from the race.
Haynes, who is among six candidates seeking the Republican nomination for governor in the Aug. 21 primary, contends he is eligible to be governor and maintains he is a victim of a “politically motivated attack.”
A hearing before District Judge Thomas Campbell in Cheyenne hasn’t been scheduled yet.
The Wyoming Secretary of State’s Office received a complaint in June alleging that Haynes lived outside Wyoming for a time within the last five years. The state constitution specifies that governor candidates must have resided in the state at least five years before the general election.
An investigation into the complaint determined that Haynes had registered to vote under an address outside Laramie that “was not a Wyoming address” from Nov. 4, 2014, to July 6, 2015, according to court papers filed by the state Attorney General on behalf of Secretary of State Ed Buchanan. The address was on Haynes’ ranch, which straddles the Wyoming-Colorado border with “all residential buildings” on the Colorado side.
After being notified by the Albany County Clerk that he was not residing in the state, Haynes changed his address on his voting registration to one in downtown Laramie, the court papers say.
The state contends the address Haynes was registered under for at least eight months “renders him ineligible to serve as governor” because he had not resided continuously in Wyoming for the five years preceding this year’s November general election.
Haynes disputed the state’s findings. “I have lived in Wyoming for nearly 35 years and during that entire time have not had a residential address in any other state,” he said in a statement.
“The Albany County ranch does straddle the Wyoming-Colorado border, however, the contract for deed and the title for the ranch, including the residence, have a Wyoming address,” he said. “All licenses, including driver’s licenses and license plates, taxes, utilities, registrations, fees, etc., are paid to Wyoming. There is no Colorado address in existence for the ranch and no road access to Colorado.”
Haynes said that in addition to the ranch property, he has maintained residential addresses in other Wyoming locations close to his other business interests in the state and currently leases an apartment in Laramie.
“Maintaining living quarters in town is a necessity because the ranch is approximately an hour’s drive from Laramie and can be inaccessible during winter months,” he said.
Haynes said that he believes he knows the source of the complaint against him, “but our campaign is not joining in the mudslinging that’s happening between other candidates, even though I’ve now been targeted.”
Haynes is listed on absentee ballots that have been open to voters since July 6.