GOP Ignores Jan. 5 Wyoming Conventions

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While Republican presidential hopefuls have focused on Iowa, home to the first key race of the 2008 U.S. election season Thursday, this vast state with a similar contest just two days later has been largely ignored.

Only Republican hopefuls Mitt Romney, Fred Thompson and Duncan Hunter have passed through since September despite the fact that the party will hold meetings Saturday to select delegates that will help determine the party's candidate at the Republican presidential nominating convention in September.

The race in Wyoming carries little of the influence of the Iowa caucuses where candidates who do well there, an in the New Hampshire primary five days later, are often able to gain enough momentum to secure their party's nomination. Candidates who do poorly in those two events often drop out.

So far, no candidate has announced plans to head west for Wyoming's Republican's county conventions Saturday. An exception could be Hunter, who has been to several of the state's major cities and held out the possibility of a last-minute visit. His wife spent part of her childhood in Wheatland, in southeast Wyoming.

Wyoming Democrats participate in a different presidential nominating process, which occurs later.

Whether anyone in the Republican contest has an advantage is unknown.

There has been no public polling, and those familiar with the results of the Republican precinct caucuses held last month said no clear candidate emerged when delegates to the county conventions were selected.

There have been relatively few endorsements by Wyoming's top Republicans. Former Gov. Jim Geringer has backed Mike Huckabee, while state auditor Rita Meyer has said she supports Romney.

Jan Larimer, Wyoming's Republican national committeewoman, said her area in western Wyoming has shown support for Romney and Ron Paul while other counties leaned toward other candidates. She said fellow Republicans seemed to like certain things about different candidates.

"They would like to take a little bit from three or four candidates and put them together to get the ideal candidates," she said.
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