Sen. Al Simpson (R-WY) retired from the Senate in 1997, but he is now celebrating another political victory in his state.
The retired senator ran and won his election as a member of the Republican precinct committee in his hometown of Cody, Wyoming, together with his wife Ann.
Both Simpsons earned a majority of the vote, effectively pushing out Tea Party Republicans in the precinct.
Although he retired from state politics long ago, Simpson indicated he was annoyed with Tea Party conservatives criticizing his record as a conservative, and had grown increasingly alarmed at the tone of the local Republican party.
Together, the Simpsons now have the ability to influence the conversation, particularly the direction of the Republican party in Wyoming.
Simpson said that he respected the Tea Party for calling for less debt, less spending, and less government, but he was deeply disturbed about the party’s direction.
Abortion, he explained, while terrible, was a “deeply intimate and personal decision” for a woman that the government should not be involved in. He also signaled his support for gay marriage.
Simpson indicated that he was looking forward to his new role in the party.
To the Tea Party, Simpson represents what’s wrong with with the old guard of Wyoming Republicans.
Members of the Tea Party called for Simpson to renounce his party affiliation, accusing him of straying too far from the party platform.
An overwhelmingly Republican state, Tea Party conservatives point out that they need to be vigilant to keep liberals from masquerading as Republicans to get elected.
DiLorenzo pointed out that Simpson was part of the problem by only paying “lip service” to Wyoming Republican ideals.
Tea Party activists in the state were very aware of Simpson’s role in the public feud with the Cheney family at an event at the Buffalo Bill Historical Center when Liz Cheney was challenging incumbent U.S. Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY).
Cheney eventually dropped out of the race, but Simpson was one member of the Republican establishment that publicly opposed her candidacy.
Now, Simpson has muscled his way back into the political conversation.
Simpson’s win was the culmination of an effort to “take back” the local Republican party from people he considered too extreme.
Earlier in the year, Simpson invited DiLorenzo for a lunch, so that they could sit down and discuss their differences.
Simpson explained during the meeting that he was tired of the Big Horn Basin Tea Party maligning his record.
But the lunch didn’t go well as Simpson demanded that the Tea Party learn to compromise, and DiLorenzo criticizing Republicans like Simpson for hurting the party.
Simpson told DiLorenzo he was tired of the Tea Party representatives taking shots at his political record.
After the lunch, Simpson launched a local coalition of Republicans who vowed to “take back” the local Republican party from the Tea Party extremists.
But the area Tea Party group viewed the idea as ludicrous.
In spite of his local political victory, Simpson said that he has no intention of seeking state or national office again.
But DiLorenzo and his team of activists have no intention of backing down in the fight to keep Wyoming conservative.