CHEYENNE, Wyo. — Despite winning endorsements from the state’s two largest newspapers, dot-com businessman Sam Galeotos did not win the Republican nomination for Governor, that going to State Treasurer Mark Gordon, the only candidate in a field of five to have political experience.
A heavy GOP state, the nomination of the party is a huge advantage in cowboy country. Gordon beat wealthy political donor Foster Friess by a comfortable margin despite Friess’ national name recognition and last-minute endorsement from President Donald Trump.
Gordon also beat rancher-attorney Harriet Hageman while Galeotos finished a distant fourth among five candidates with only 12.4 percent of the vote.
Friess said that Gordon would make a “good governor” and said he would continue to advocate for issues including financial transparency in Wyoming government.
Gordon faces attorney and former state Rep. Mary Throne, of Cheyenne, in the general election. Throne beat three little-known candidates to secure the Democratic nomination.
Outgoing Republican Gov. Matt Mead is term-limited after serving two full terms.
Although an underdog based on party registration numbers, Throne said that, “Traditionally in Wyoming we focus on the person and not the party when it comes to electing governors. We like our governors to be independent and thoughtful,” and Gordon called her a “formidable force” and said he’s not taking the race for granted.
The disappointing results were a setback for Galeotos, who had picked up name recognition and with the state’s biggest newspaper, the Casper Star Tribune three days before the Aug. 21 primary throwing its support behind him.
The paper said it came down to Galeotos, Chairman of the data services company Green House Data, and Gordon, saying the treasurer’s campaign was “underwhelming and uninspiring” before he mopped up the field to run away with 32.9 percent of the vote, 6.9 percent more than Freiss, who had the backing of President Donald Trump and is a nationally-known figure in Republican circles.
The Star Tribune had written of Galeotos that, “His business skills show a pragmatic approach that would serve Wyoming best. His focus on the economy and workforce training instead of distractions is exactly what the state needs. He seems committed to focusing on building our economy rather than fighting culture wars. And we believe he would command the respect of lawmakers should they reach another impasse this session and need gubernatorial guidance to reach a deal.”
What may have tripped up his campaign was what the paper called a gaffe during an Aug. 1 debate in which he was asked about the state’s tax structure and whether attracting a new business really would fix Wyoming’s revenue problems without a tax overhaul.
Galeotos dismissed the numbers and then accused the question of being a prompt about raising taxes in disguise, a jarring response for the paper which said that, “Our next governor will quickly learn the truth; we cannot support new business without a new tax structure.”
But the paper said despite that, Galeotos was focused on the issue that matters most to the state’s long- term well-being: economic development. And he’s shown a pragmatic style that would serve him – and the rest of the state.”
In June, he was hosted at a fundraiser in Manhattan, hosted by John Catsimatidis, Father Alexander Karloutsos, and Andy Manatos at which the candidate noted the Greek-American community was behind him especially, but he had broader support.
Galeotos’ mother’s side is from Thessaloniki and his father’s side from outside of Tripoli.
He told TNH that his grandfather came to the United States with his two brothers early in the 1900s in search of a better life. They followed the railroads, he said later, adding that they then herded sheep, and opened a restaurant. Today, the family owns a restaurant called Uncle Charlie’s.
(Material from the Associated Press was used in this report)