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Voters have more legislative choices in the upcoming primary than last election

Wyoming’s candidate period closed Friday. Last-minute entries amount to fewer uncontested races.

A voter trades a registration ticket for a ballot in Teton County on Nov. 3, 2020. (Angus M. Thuermer, Jr/WyoFile)

A voter trades a registration ticket for a ballot in Teton County on Nov. 3, 2020. (Angus M. Thuermer, Jr/WyoFile)

by Maggie Mullen, WyoFile

When it comes to electing statehouse representation, Wyoming voters are slated to have more choices on the ballot this year than they did during the 2022 election. 

Democratic and Republican candidates had until 5 p.m. Friday to file for office. Out of the 77 legislative races, 62 will feature at least two candidates, according to the final roster posted by the Wyoming Secretary of State’s Office. 

That leaves 15 uncontested primary election races for the Legislature — which is down slightly from 22 in 2022

Independent, minor or provisional party candidates have until August to file to appear on November’s ballot, but because Republicans dominate Wyoming politics, most legislative races will likely be determined by the primary election. 

As things stand currently, 48 of the 62 contested state House and Senate races only have Republican candidates running. Meanwhile, there are no contested races that exclusively feature Democratic candidates. 

Details

Over the course of about two weeks, campaigns trickled in with their filings, crowding some races, while leaving other districts to a single candidate. 

The vast majority of those unopposed candidates are incumbents — almost all of which are Republicans — including Rep. Steve Harshman (R-Casper), who was targeted by anonymous mailers starting late last year. 

Teton County Reps. Liz Storer and Mike Yin are the only two Democrats without a primary or Republican challenger. 

(Storer is president and CEO of the George B. Storer Foundation, a financial supporter of WyoFile. Neither Storer nor the foundation have any involvement in the editorial decisions of WyoFile.)

Two Republican newcomers, however, are set to join the Legislature by default — Laurie Bratten in House District 51, which encompasses the western swath of Sheridan County, and J.R. Riggins in House District 59, which includes most of the Town of Mills and a western section of Casper. 

The two districts are currently represented by Reps. Cyrus Western (R-Big Horn) and Kevin O’Hearn (R-Mills), respectively. Western announced in March he would not seek reelection, while O’Hearn was one of several incumbents who quietly decided not to seek reelection. 

Volunteer election officials help voters at the Natrona County Fairgrounds during the Nov. 8, 2022 general election. (Dustin Bleizeffer/WyoFile)

Rep. Donald Burkhart (R-Rawlins), chair of the House Minerals, Business, and Economic Development Committee, will not seek reelection, nor will Rep. Sandy Newsome (R-Cody), chair of the House Travel, Recreation, Wildlife and Cultural Resources Committee. 

Three Republicans will battle it out for Burkhart’s seat: Sheryl Foland, a social worker, Pamela Thayer, executive director for Rawlins Downtown Development Authority, and Terry Lee Weickum, the mayor of Rawlins. 

Meanwhile, Cody Mayor Matt Hall and Nina Webber, a Republican National Committeewoman for Wyoming, will compete for Newsome’s old seat. Webber unsuccessfully ran against Newsome in 2020 and 2022.

With Rep. Lane Allred (R-Afton) choosing not to run for reelection after his first term in the House, two Republicans will run for House District 21, which covers a western section of Wyoming’s border. McKay Erickson, a retired teacher and coach, and T. Deb Wolfey, a business owner, will run against one another. 

Several former lawmakers will try to win their seats back from previous opponents. 

Aaron Clausen, for example, will face Rep. Tomi Strock (R-Douglas) in a race for House District 6, which spans eastern Converse County. Clausen, a rancher, represented the district from 2017 to 2022 before Strock, also a rancher, ousted him by 56 votes. 

Marshall Burt will challenge Rep. Cody Wylie (R-Rock Springs) in House District 39. Burt represented the district — which connects parts of Green River and Rock Springs — from 2021 to 2022 as a Libertarian. He will run this year as a Republican. Laura McKee, a mortgage loan officer, will also compete for the Republican nomination. 

Once again, Rep. Tamara Trujillo (R-Cheyenne) will face her cousin and former lawmaker John Romero-Martinez for House District 44. During his one term in office, Romero-Martinez was investigated for threatening the lives of Andi LeBeau, a sitting lawmaker, and Sara Burlingame, a former lawmaker. Lee Filer, a former Democratic lawmaker, will also run for the district, but as a Republican. 

Burlingame, meanwhile, will run in the only race to have two Democratic primary candidates — House District 11. Her opponent is Teresa Wolff, a writer. 

For the general election, minor and provisional party candidates have until Aug. 19 to file, while independent candidates have until Aug. 26.

The primary election is Aug. 20. 


This article was originally published by WyoFile and is republished here with permission. WyoFile is an independent nonprofit news organization focused on Wyoming people, places and policy.

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