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Wyoming Secretary of State candidate Ed Buchanan listens in a room with other candidates waiting to be called up to introduce themselves during a Wyoming GOP meeting where three finalists were selected to replace Wyoming Secretary of State Ed Murray at the Little America Hotel and Resort on Saturday, Feb. 24, 2018, in Cheyenne. Jacob Byk/Wyoming Tribune Eagle

CHEYENNE – Gov. Matt Mead on Thursday selected a former Wyoming secretary of state candidate and Laramie County prosecutor as the next secretary of state.

Ed Buchanan will serve the remainder of Ed Murray’s term as the state’s election and business registration authority after Murray stepped down in early February over allegations of sexual misconduct.

Mead said in a news release that Buchanan’s experience in the Legislature, military career and job as an attorney and prosecutor made him a good choice for the office.

“Ed (Buchanan) is committed to Wyoming and to the responsibilities of the office,” Mead said in a news release.

Buchanan, who will be sworn in Monday, was picked over two other candidates selected by the Wyoming Republican Party, Cheyenne attorney Darin Smith and Park County farmer Richard George.

Buchanan ran for secretary of state in 2014, but was narrowly defeated by Murray in the Republican primary.

Buchanan confirmed that he would be running for secretary of state in this year's elections, but said that will come secondary to his new position.

“It’s a challenge for really any elected official when they have to run for re-election to their second term,” Buchanan said. “It’s nothing novel or new, it’s just a matter of prioritizing things.”

Buchanan said Thursday that his first priority upon taking office will be to get to know the people in the office and prepare for primary elections in August.

“My first goal … is to make sure that we’re ready for that upcoming election season as a whole and continue the great customer service that office is known for,” Buchanan said.

In the long term, Buchanan said he hopes to educate the public about the rules and regulations created by state agencies.

“(I want) to make that process as transparent as possible,” he said.

He also touched on his new role on the State Loan and Investment Board, which awards grants to local communities for important projects.

“The other goal is to get out to the communities … and put a face on the name and get to know the folks and the projects they’re looking at to improve their infrastructure and the lives of citizens,” he said.

In a forum Saturday in front of the Wyoming GOP, Buchanan also voiced his support of so-called voter ID laws, which require each person going to the polls to show a government-issued ID.

Such laws have been controversial in other states, with critics saying that such measures are an effort to roll back voting rights for poor people and minorities.

But Buchanan said at the forum that he “(doesn’t) buy the argument that we are keeping people away from the polls by requiring them to show a photo ID.”

“To me, it’s not an inconvenience to show up to the polls, show an ID, get checked off, match your address … so that we can have confidence that the people who are voting are eligible to vote,” he said.

Buchanan’s most recent job has been as a prosecutor in the Laramie County District Attorney’s Office. He is one of the lead trial attorneys, usually working alongside District Attorney Jeremiah Sandburg.

Sandburg said Tuesday before Mead’s announcement that he hoped Buchanan would be picked, despite the hole it would leave in his office.

“I’ve known Ed (Buchanan) for many, many years, and I think he would be an excellent secretary of state,” Sandburg said.

Katie Kull is the Wyoming Tribune Eagle’s criminal justice reporter. She can be reached at kkull@wyomingnews.com or 307-633-3122. Follow her on Twitter at @katiekull1.

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