Republicans in Wyoming on Tuesday renominated Senator John Barrasso, a 15-year veteran of state politics, while also weighing very different candidates in the race for governor.
Mr. Barrasso, who is seeking his third term in the Senate, has managed to find a way to coexist in Mr. Trump’s Republican Party, even though his political style and approach to governing could not be more different from the president’s.
Mr. Barrasso, a nose-to-the-grindstone tactical politician with medical training from Georgetown and Yale, is deeply involved in his party’s efforts to shape a legislative agenda as chair of the Senate’s Republican Policy Committee. He was never as outwardly critical of Mr. Trump as some of his Senate colleagues were, either during the 2016 election or after the president took office, though he has occasionally broken with Mr. Trump, for example by calling on him to release his tax returns and opposing, albeit gently, the administration’s plan to separate immigrant children from their parents.
In the other contest unfolding on Tuesday, in Alaska, voters were picking candidates to challenge Gov. Bill Walker, an independent who has disappointed members of both major parties as the state grapples with slow economic growth and rising violent crime. The Democratic primary was uncontested, with only Mark Begich, a former United States senator, running. On the Republican side, the crowded field included seven candidates, with Mike Dunleavy, a former state senator, and former Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell considered the front-runners.
Mr. Barrasso was initially a target of pro-Trump conservatives like Stephen K. Bannon, the former White House chief strategist, who attempted to recruit and run challengers to incumbent Republican senators he believed were not supportive enough of the president. The Casper Star-Tribune, Wyoming’s largest newspaper, endorsed Mr. Barrasso’s opponent last week and called out the senator for being “more interested in scoring quick points on cable news and climbing the political ladder than making real change.”
Nonetheless, Mr. Barrasso hitched himself to Mr. Trump’s agenda, praising his efforts to abandon Obama-era environmental regulations (“bold and decisive action”), engage with North Korea (“bold leadership”) and pass pro-growth policies (“incredibly productive”).
Mr. Trump rewarded his loyalty by pledging his backing for Mr. Barrasso last year, heading off an early primary threat from Erik Prince, the Blackwater founder who is close to Mr. Bannon. Mr. Trump tweeted his official endorsement last month.
After initially flirting with a challenge to Mr. Barrasso, Foster Friess, a prominent Republican donor, opted for the governor’s race instead. Mr. Trump endorsed him, too, but not until a tweet on Tuesday morning as voters were already heading to the polls in the Republican primary that included Mr. Friess and Mark Gordon, the state treasurer.