On Tuesday, as Wyoming GOP primary voters are heading to the polls to select their nominee, President Trump endorsed longtime conservative megadonor Foster Friess.
To the incredible people of the Great State of Wyoming: Go VOTE TODAY for Foster Friess – He will be a fantastic Governor! Strong on Crime, Borders & 2nd Amendment. Loves our Military & our Vets. He has my complete and total Endorsement!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 21, 2018
Friess, who has never held public office before, made his fortune managing mutual funds and retired to Wyoming. He first made a name for himself in politics by nearly single-handedly bankrolling Rick Santorum’s 2012 presidential campaign.
During that campaign, Friess made his famous argument against contraception and for abstinence, saying that contraception was too expensive. Friess had a better option for women.
“You know, back in my days, they used Bayer Aspirin for contraceptives,” he told MSNBC at the time. “The gals put it between their knees and it wasn’t that costly.”
In 2016, Friess donated money to a secretive group primarily funded by Robert Mercer that, according to OpenSecrets, targeted “anti-Muslim ads at swing voters.” Friess has financially supported many Islamophobic groups.
As ThinkProgress reported last year, “he has given millions of dollars to GOP candidates and committees in support of former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI), Gov. John Kaisch (R-OH), former Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX), and former Sen. Alfonse D’Amato (R-NY).”
Friess had considered a primary challenge to Sen. John Barrasso last year before switching to a gubernatorial run in April. Current Gov. Matt Mead (R-WY) is term-limited and State Treasurer Mark Gordon had a slight lead in polls for the Republican primary race, although another poll showed Friess leading the field last week, ahead of both Gordon and businessman Sam Galeatos. He has spent $1.1 million on advertising, the most of all candidates in the race. Santorum has of course endorsed him, as have the Family Research Council and the Tea Party Patriots.
Two weeks ago, Donald Trump Jr. endorsed Friess in a Casper Star-Tribune op-ed which said he met Friess through Charlie Kirk, of the conservative organization Turning Point USA. Trump Jr. also revealed that after his father had clinched the GOP presidential nomination, “there was a short period where some conventional sources of funding had not yet opened up to us, but Foster was right there when we needed him and helped open the door to other early adopters in the donor community.”
Trump Jr. argued that Friess “has always fought for the little guy” right after noting that after the “far left and Hollywood” were attacking the NRA after the Parkland shooting, Friess offered a $2.5 million match to a program intended to stop school shootings without limiting access to firearms.
This is a slight deviation from how Friess used to think school shootings could be prevented. As ThinkProgress reported last year, “In a 2002 speech entitled ‘Tolerance Is Not Always Good,’ Friess blamed the mass school shooting in Columbine on political progressives and encouraged his audience to let the tragedy ‘be a battle cry for all of us so that we may change our society through productive intolerance.'” In a 2007 commencement speech, he encouraged students to “be more intolerant” and attacked the “secular Taliban” for promoting inclusivity.
Friess doesn’t just have to rely on his own wealth to wage his campaign to run Wyoming. Trump has Fox News and Sinclair Media, but Friess invested in his own media outlet.
In 2010, he quietly contributed $3.5 million to the conservative, Tucker Carlson-founded Daily Caller news site, which has positively covered his campaign with articles that read as press releases, “exclusive” first looks at Friess campaign ads, and headlines like, “Republican Wyoming Gubernatorial Candidate Foster Friess Surges to First in Polls.”