WYOMING, November 22, 2022—State Rep. Chip Neiman, R-Hulett, was a simple rancher from Crook County about five years ago.
“I looked back this morning and I thought, ‘You’ve got to be joking.’ I can’t believe where I’m at right now,” Neiman told Cowboy State Daily.
Although he hasn’t stopped tending to his cattle, Neiman’s life has taken on larger prominence since those days, elected as the Republican nominee for majority floor leader in the state House of Representatives on Saturday.
Neiman’s rise in the Wyoming political orbit has been meteoric, growing in from a non-political small-town cattle rancher to one of the opening speakers for former President Donald Trump when he hosted a rally in Casper this past spring.
“My desire has always been, I want to serve and I want to help,” Neiman said.
Neiman, who ran unopposed in this year’s primary and general elections, is wrapping up his first term. Assuming his nomination is finalized on the House floor on the first day of the 2023 session, Neiman will become the first freshman legislator elected to a leadership position in recent memory.
Neiman’s election represents as much his rise as a legislator as it does the growing power of a more conservative wing of the Republican Party.
All four House leadership positions had candidates who are members of or aligned with the House Freedom Caucus, a conservative bloc of the Republican Party generally separate from the more veteran, “establishment” wing of their party.
“When you’re running as a slate, you’re probably disappointed when the slate doesn’t go,” Neiman said. “But I look at it as a positive, ultimately. It was a positive day.”
Closing The Gap
Although Neiman was the only one of the four to be elected, there were exceptionally close races for two of the other positions.
For Wyoming House Speaker Rep. Albert Sommers, R-Pinedale, edged Rep. Mark Jennings, R-Sheridan, by a vote of 30-27. In the race for speaker pro tem, Rep. Clark Stith, R-Rock Springs, beat Rep. Rachel Rodriguez-Williams of Cody, 31-26.
Upset Over Experience
Neiman pointed out that a few legislators who voted for more moderate Republicans in other positions would have had to cast their vote for him in his 29-28 win over Rep. Jared Olsen, R-Cheyenne.
The win was largely seen as an upset, as Olsen is the House majority whip and was just reelected for his fourth term. He is chairman of the Judiciary Committee and Select Committee on Blockchain, Financial Technology and Digital Innovation Technology.
“The same people who voted for establishment candidates voted for me,” Neiman said. “It sends a message – we’ve got to have people at the table.”
The Neiman family is well known in northeast Wyoming and the Black Hills for logging and sawmill production through the Neiman Enterprises brand.
In 2017, Neiman’s closest connection to politics was his family’s longstanding tradition of voting Republican.
“I had no political aspirations,” he said. “I had done nothing politically.”
Neiman said he was approached to run as a Crook County GOP precinct committeeman around this time. He took the offer and ran unopposed, elected in precinct 13-13.
“I figured I would do the job for the folks,” he said.
Source: Cowboy State Daily wrote the original article.
Featured Photo: Representative Chip Neiman