CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — A businessman who says he's prepared to spend at least $1 million of his own money announced Thursday that he's running against Wyoming U.S. Sen. John Barrasso as an independent.
"That's what I got authorized by my wife, but if she's not looking the other way I will do whatever it takes," Dave Dodson said of putting his own money into the campaign.
Barrasso, a Republican, filed a statement of candidacy last year but hasn't formally announced a campaign. Barrasso's campaign manager, Tom Wiblemo, declined to comment Thursday but said Barrasso would continue working with President Donald Trump's administration on priorities including tax cuts.
"Our campaign is prepared to hit the ground running hard later this year. In the meantime, Sen. Barrasso will continue doing the job he was elected to do," Wiblemo said by email.
Dodson, 56, called himself a "Ronald Reagan-Alan Simpson Republican" but said he's grown disillusioned with the GOP. Republicans are too beholden to special interests, Dodson said.
"There's no industry that has a bigger influence on John Barrasso's donations than health care — more than energy, more than anything that might affect our state. That's the evil influence of money on our political system," Dodson said.
Dodson said he would caucus with Republicans if elected. He would not raise or accept campaign money during most of his tenure in office, only during the six months leading up to election day, he said.
Even a few million dollars would make Dodson an underdog to Barrasso, who at the end of last year had almost $5.4 million, according to the Federal Election Commission.
Dodson isn't well-known in Wyoming. Republicans Foster Friess, a GOP donor, and Erik Prince, founder of the Blackwater security company, have been weighing whether to run against Barrasso. Allies of Trump's former adviser Steve Bannon, Friess and Prince have said little about the race since Bannon's rift with Trump in January.
Dodson said he has owned a home in Jackson Hole for 25 years and has lived there full time since 2011. He is a part-time business instructor at Stanford University. His business ventures have ranged from telecommunications to auto parts, he said.
Dodson has no political experience.
Wyoming is among the most Republican states. Barrasso easily beat little-known Democrats in 2012 and in a 2008 special election following his appointment to the Senate in 2007.
Democratic businessman Gary Trauner also is running.