Regaling a room of Republicans with the story of how she found her way to the party in the 1970s, Mary Martin accepted her election Wednesday as the Teton County GOP’s new chair.
“I hope we can rally and create some really wonderful synergy for our party,” Martin said. “We are the party of common sense. We are the party of family. We are the party of integrity and ethics.”
The mood in the Teton County Board of County Commissioners’ chambers was light last week, as the Teton County GOP’s Central Committee — a gathering of the party’s elected precinct committeemen and women — met to elect new leadership. Alex Muromcew, the party’s most recent chair, stepped down from his position to assume the role of vice chair. Martin stepped up in the party’s ranks.
The vote was unanimous in both cases.
Ditto the votes to confirm the full roster of local GOP leadership.
Martin, wielding a gavel with her Wyoming mask slung to the side, told the room that she’d come to Teton County as a Democrat in the 1970s. But as she worked in 1976 on her 4-H leader John Wilson’s Republican campaign for County Commission, things changed.
“I discovered that I was, perhaps, Republican,” Martin said.
Now the community development extension educator for 4-H in Teton County, Martin has become somewhat of a mainstay in local Republican politics. She ran for County Commission in 2018 and has been a member of the local Republican party’s seven-member executive committee.
In February, she traveled to Rawlins where she voted against censuring Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., for her vote to impeach President Donald Trump. Muromcew and Commissioner Mark Barron did as well.
But national issues weren’t at the forefront during Wednesday’s election.
Instead, the conservatives in attendance joked with one another about statewide issues and expressed distaste with the tax-friendly positions of Teton County’s relatively liberal delegation to the Wyoming Legislature: a delegation made up of three Democrats, one independent and one Republican.
One person in the audience described the delegation as “taxaholics,” referring to the various proposals Sen. Mike Gierau, D-Teton, and Reps. Andy Schwartz, D-Teton, Mike Yin, D-Jackson, and Jim Roscoe, I-Teton, Sublette, and Lincoln, have supported to raise revenue for the state.
Martin pointed to the younger Republicans in the room — Hunter Christiansen and Peter Long — and said she hoped to gin up some support from younger people for Republican policies.
Muromcew, the party’s outgoing chair, said conservatives have an electoral opportunity in 2022, eyeing what could be a competitive local political season. There will be races for virtually all town, county and state offices, with U.S. census-based redistricting in the interim.
Martin praised Muromcew, calling him a “phenomenal stalwart of a leader.”
“He, like the tiger, has not been professing ‘I’m the chairman. I’m the leader,’ ” Martin went on. “He has been demonstrating it in the elegance of his leap.”
Muromcew, who in 2018 ran against Schwartz for a seat in the Wyoming House, didn’t rule out a rematch in an interview with the News&Guide.
“Rumble in the jungle?” he asked, rhetorically. “What’s the Teton County equivalent?”
Muromcew also didn’t rule out a run for County Commission.
“We are at least the minority party nationally,” he told the gathering. “It’ll be an interesting election in 2022, and we’ve got to start thinking and preparing and recruiting candidates.”