Dodson registering as a Republican

June 12, 2018 GMT

A Jackson Hole resident and entrepreneur who aims to represent Wyoming in the U.S. Senate no longer plans to run as an independent, meaning he’ll face incumbent John Barrasso in the Republican primary.

David Dodson, who has long identified as a “Reagan Republican,” originally sought to stay unaffiliated because the political newcomer wanted to buy time to build name recognition and campaign until the November general election. He changed strategies, partly out of deference to some folks in the Republican Party who worried that a Democrat could win against long odds in a deeply conservative state.

“There was some concern among Republicans that it would create a split vote for Republicans, and Gary Trauner could potentially win,” Dodson said. “I don’t really think the numbers support that, but that was nonetheless a concern that some people had.”

Secondly, running as an independent created some confusion. Some voters, he said, wondered why a self-professed Republican wasn’t registered as one.

The change means Dodson will face five Republican candidates in the Aug. 21 primary. Barrasso, the 11-year incumbent, faces Dodson, former Roman Catholic priest Charlie Hardy, attorney John Holt, Rocky De La Fuente and Anthony Van Risseghem.

“I’m asking the voters to compare my record of helping to create over 25,000 jobs against John Barrasso’s 10-year record of taking care of his donors and his own career,” Dodson previously told the Jackson Hole Daily. “I have a vision for a Wyoming where our kids don’t have to leave the state to make a decent living — and I’m determined to make that happen.”

Trauner, a Wilson resident, is running unopposed for the Democratic Party’s nomination in the Senate race.

Traveling and staying in an RV, Dodson has relentlessly toured Wyoming since he launched his campaign over the winter.

“Last night was the fourth night I’ve slept in my bed since the fourth week of December,” he told the Daily on June 7.

Touring the state has solidified his view that much of Wyoming is struggling. The Equality State is dead last among states in overall economic health, he said, and is hemorrhaging young people who are drawn to more vibrant parts of the country. Those trends may not hold true in Jackson Hole specifically, but they were apparent elsewhere in his travels, he said.

“I don’t lie in bed at night worrying about people in Teton County,” Dodson said.

“I’d say about a third of the 99 towns in this state, they’re going to be gone in 30 years if we’re not careful,” he said. “It makes me sad, but it also makes me want to get up in the morning and campaign again.”