UPDATE JAN. 27: Judge Scott W. Skavdahl denied plaintiffs’ requests to block Gov. Mark Gordon from selecting a new superintendent of public instruction. Gordon is expected to make his choice today.
CHEYENNE, Wyo. — The Wyoming Republican Party and its chairman Frank Eathroen have been sued for an “unconstitutional” selection process in replacing Wyoming superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Ballow.
A federal judge blocked Gov. Mark Gordon from appointing a new superintendent until the court issues a ruling on the suit, which includes a restraining order blocking the governor’s appointment.
Patrick Crank filed the suit in the U.S. District Court Tuesday on behalf of 16 plaintiffs. The plaintiffs are a group of registered bi-partisan voters and former legislators n Wyoming, including one from Teton County.
The lawsuit claims the Wyoming GOP violated the U.S. and state constitution when the State Central Committee voted for three nominees to replace Superintendent Jillian Balow on Saturday. According to the suit, the committee failed to vote according to “one man one vote principles that are enshrined in both the United States and Wyoming constitutions.”
Plaintiffs say the committee should have voted proportionally to the size of their counties — so, counties with bigger populations would get more votes. That’s not how it happened, the lawsuit says. Instead, three committee members per county voted on 11 candidates and narrowed the pool down to three.
The committee voted for three top candidates to present to Gordon. The suit includes a temporary restraining order that blocks Gordon from selecting a new superintendent from the three finalists, which he is supposed to do by Thursday, Jan. 27. The court will rule on the order by noon Thursday, the Wyoming Tribune Eagle reported.
The final candidates are Thomas Kelly, Marti Halverson, and Brian Schroeder.
Halverson is a former state representative from Lincoln County and a conservative republican. Kelly moved to Wyoming from Colorado recently and left because “the schools were teaching climate change, multiple genders, and white privilege to grammar school children,” according to his resume and cover letter. Shroeder moved to the state recently and has experience as a school administrator, teacher, and youth counselor, the Casper Star Tribune reported.