By Joel Funk

Wyoming Tribune Eagle
Via Wyoming News Exchange

CHEYENNE — The latest Wyomingite to throw his hat in the race to be the state’s next governor is Cheyenne businessman Sam Galeotos.

Galeotos, a Republican, made the announcement Wednesday morning at the Cheyenne Frontier Days Old West Museum.

As Republican Gov. Matt Mead prepares to leave office after his second term, Galeotos said he was compelled to run when looking at the challenges Wyoming is facing. He has no experience in elected public office, but he points to his experience as the chief executive of a variety of business ventures, as well as his involvement in community service organizations as evidence he would be the best choice for Wyoming.

“When I look at the landscape and the types of things that need to be done, I really feel like I can make a difference,” he said during an interview Wednesday. “I’ve dedicated a lot of my time to community service and spent most of my adult life tackling large, complex programs and chasing down huge opportunities. I really see that right now the state needs somebody that has my background and skills and knows how to get to the bottom of some of these issues.”

Galeotos was born in Cheyenne, graduating from Central High School before attending classes at Laramie County Community College and the University of Wyoming. After graduating from the University of Arizona, Galeotos said he sought employment outside Wyoming because there were more opportunities with his background in business and technology.

However, he returned to the Cowboy State, where he worked with the Boys and Girls Club of Cheyenne and now serves as the executive chairman of the board for Green House Data Corporation.

“I think my strength is that I have a passion for Wyoming,” Galeotos said. “I came back here by choice. I want to be here. This is where my heart is, and I understand the state.”

As Wyoming continues to reel from its most recent economic bust, Galeotos said he thinks he can steer the state in a positive direction. In 2017, Mead kicked off his 20-year economic diversification initiative, ENDOW, which stands for Econom-ically Needed Diversity Options for Wyoming. He has repeatedly said it would need to be carried through several administrations after his own to be successful.

Galeotos said he likes the aspirations of ENDOW and would like to see “rigor” around its initiatives. As part of that economic strategy, Galeotos said he would work to lift “burdens” on the energy industry, drive tourism, protect agriculture, and expand opportunities for technology and manufacturing.

“Philosophically, I’d like to play to our strengths and mitigate or cover up our weaknesses,” Galeotos said.

Galeotos enters what’s becoming a busy Republican primary as conservatives look to take the state’s reins. He’s the sixth candidate to declare while speculation continues to swirl about whether other prominent Republicans will enter the race, including House of Representatives Speaker Steve Harshman of Casper.

Wyoming Department of Health staff confirmed Friday that Director Tom Forslund will not enter the race.

Some have wondered whether Galeotos’ name recognition will be overshadowed by the prominence of candidates such as Treasurer Mark Gordon, who entered the race last week. But Galeotos said he’s convinced his record in business and the community will play well with voters, eventually allowing him to rise to the top of the Republican field.

“The business background can be translated most definitely into the governmental background,” he said. “We’re at a point right now where we need to change government and how it’s operating in this state. We need someone that understands the business community and how to allow that to thrive.”

Gordon is the only one of the six declared Republican candidates with experience in elected office. Former Wyoming House of Representatives Minority Leader Mary Throne of Cheyenne is the only Democratic candidate.

While none of the GOP candidates have claimed to be anything less than conservative, it’s clear some have views further to the right of Mead and other past Repub-lican governors in the state. When asked where he sees himself on that spectrum, Galeotos said he wanted to be very clear he’s a conservative, including in his views on faith, abortion, family, Second Amend-ment rights and limited government.

“I believe in conservative principles,” he said. “I’ve been that way my entire life.”

Following Wednesday’s announcement, Galeotos said he was jumping in the car to hit the campaign trail, traveling across the state.

“I will be hitting every community and meeting as many people as I can and learn from them,” he said. “I don’t plan on being idle for very long.”