Trump-backed Foster Friess falls in Wyoming governor's primary

Republican megadonor Foster Friess will lose Wyoming's GOP gubernatorial nomination race, CNN projects, hand...

Posted: Aug 22, 2018 2:40 PM
Updated: Aug 22, 2018 2:40 PM

Republican megadonor Foster Friess will lose Wyoming's GOP gubernatorial nomination race, CNN projects, handing a rare primary defeat to a candidate endorsed by President Donald Trump.

State Treasurer Mark Gordon clinched the nomination, according to CNN's projection, besting Friess, attorney Harriet Hageman and businessman Sam Galeotos.

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Friess' loss caps a harrowing day for the Trump presidency: Michael Cohen, the Trump's longtime former personal attorney and fixer, pleaded guilty to eight criminal counts and implicated Trump in his allocution. Shortly before Cohen's court confession in New York, Paul Manafort, the man who led Trump's presidential campaign for five months, was found guilty of eight financial crimes in Alexandria, Virginia.

Trump did not mention the controversies at a rally in West Virginia on Tuesday night, but he did brag about his endorsement record -- a number that would be sullied hours later.

"I don't want to brag about it," Trump said, "but man do I have a good record of endorsements."

Gordon will now face Wyoming House of Representatives Minority Leader Mary Throne, who will win the Democratic nomination, CNN projects. Democrats, despite Throne's candidacy, are not expected to win the Wyoming governor's seat, making it likely that the toughest competition the state treasurer will face ended on Tuesday night.

Before he ran for governor, Friess -- who the Wall Street Journal estimates is worth $530 million -- was a reliable Republican donor and bundler. He was the primary backer of former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum's 2012 presidential run and was also a major financial supporter to Trump when he was a candidate.

Friess was slightly favored heading into the primary night, despite his opponents' efforts to cast him as an out-of-state megadonor during the race, alleging that he does not have deep ties to Wyoming and was simply trying to buy the seat by personally funding his campaign. According to the Casper Star-Tribune, Hageman called Friess a "part-time Jackson jetsetter," a reference to swanky Jackson, Wyoming.

Trump waited until the final day of the campaign to endorse Friess.

"To the incredible people of the Great State of Wyoming: Go VOTE TODAY for Foster Friess," he tweeted. "He will be a fantastic Governor! Strong on Crime, Borders & 2nd Amendment. Loves our Military & our Vets. He has my complete and total Endorsement!"

But Friess, who is close to the Trump family, was also backed by Donald Trump Jr., the President's oldest son and a friend to the Wyoming magnate.

"Foster embodies the leadership skills necessary to run a prosperous and efficient Wyoming that puts its people first," the younger Trump wrote in an op-ed earlier this month. "My father needs a fighter by his side in Wyoming, someone who is committed to enacting his America First agenda and I know that Foster will fight tooth and nail to help make that a reality."

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