GOP mega-donor mulls Wyoming Senate bid

GOP mega-donor mulls Wyoming Senate bid
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GOP mega-donor Foster Friess is mulling a potential Senate bid in Wyoming that would pit him against incumbent Sen. John BarrassoJohn Anthony BarrassoOvernight Energy: Gillibrand offers bill to ban pesticide from school lunches | Interior secretary met tribal lawyer tied to Zinke casino dispute | Critics say EPA rule could reintroduce asbestos use GOP senator issues stark warning to Republicans on health care Judd Gregg: In praise of Mike Enzi MORE (R).

Friess, a regular GOP donor whose net worth was pegged by The Wall Street Journal in 2012 as about $530 million, tipped his hand in an interview with The Washington Post on Monday.

“Normally, over the years, I’ve dismissed these urgings,” Friess said in an email to the paper about discussions about a political bid.

“But due to the stature of the people requesting, I sense a responsibility to prayerfully explore the possibility.”

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Friess did not elaborate on who is urging him to run. But former White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon has spoken to Friess recently, a source familiar with those conversations confirmed to The Hill.

Bannon has been mulling the prospect of backing a challenger to Barrasso as part of his push to challenge Republican incumbents with more conservative candidates.

Friess, who made his name on the political scene after bankrolling a super PAC that backed former Sen. Rick Santorum's (R-Pa.) 2012 presidential bid, added that his interest in health care "might be enhanced by a position in the Senate."

Most Republicans had considered Barrasso safe from the internal GOP turbulence that's paved the way to Bannon-backed primary challenges across the country. But over the weekend, The New York Times reported that Bannon has spoken to Erik Prince, the founder of the controversial private security firm Blackwater and brother to Education Secretary Betsy DeVosElizabeth (Betsy) Dee DeVosDeVos team says student journalists 'welcome' after high school students turned away at event The 7 most interesting nuggets from the Mueller report Blackwater founder Erik Prince helped fund effort tied to obtaining Clinton's emails MORE, about a potential bid of his own in Wyoming.

The firm, now known as Academi, received government contracts during the Iraq War and drew international condemnation in 2007 after employees killed 17 Iraqi civilians while escorting an American convoy in Baghdad.