WY Vote

The results of the 2014 Wyoming General Election.

Follow Wyoming Public Media and the Wyoming Public Radio News team as we cover the 2014 Wyoming Primary and General Elections online and on-air.

Keep up with our reporters during the election on Twitter and Facebook. Just use the hashtag #wyvote and join in on the coverage. See you at the polls!

[View the story "Wyoming General Election 2014: Live Tweeting" on Storify]

Bob Beck

The Wyoming legislative session is underway and it features 3 new Senators in Cheyenne and 14 newly elected Representatives. It’s a big stage for the newly minted lawmakers and 31-year-old Tyler Lindholm is excited. He is a tall, thin, and confident 1st year Representative from Sundance. Lindholm served in the Navyhas, chaired the Crook County Republican Party and is ready to jump into the legislature with both feet. But legislative protocols and the abundance of legislation can be a challenge for newcomers.

Aaron Schrank

Last week, Republican Jillian Balow was sworn in as Wyoming’s new Superintendent of Public Instruction. Balow is now working to rebuild the state’s Department of Education, formerly led by Cindy Hill. There are quite a few vacancies to fill and the current legislative session could shake things up for the state’s K-12 schools. Superintendent Balow spoke with Wyoming Public Radio’s Aaron Schrank about the road ahead.

Bob Beck

For the next two months the State’s 90 legislators will gather in Cheyenne to consider a wide range of bills. Some ideas will be dead on arrival while others should generate considerable debate. One bill that will begin in the Senate would provide Medicaid health insurance to those who cannot afford health insurance and who do not qualify for subsidies under the affordable care act.

Senator Chris Rothfuss who is the Minority Leader in the Wyoming Senate and House Minority Leader Mary Throne say that legislative savings and Medicaid expansion will be among the top discussion items during the upcoming legislative session.

Mike Smith / Wyoming News dot com

Wyoming Governor Matt Mead said that state leaders should look to the future in an effort to improve the state. In his inaugural address, Mead said he is excited about a number of things as he heads into his second term.

According to a new study by the National Institute for Money in State Politics, Wyoming has the third lowest number of contested races for state legislature, tying with Arkansas for the spot. In 36% of its state races, there’s only one name on the ballot.  Only Georgia and South Carolina have less competition in their state elections. Researcher Zach Holden says, yes, it’s because Wyoming is dominated by strong partisan politics. But it’s also a state without term limits.

Wyoming’s Republican senators can’t wait to go from being in the minority to the majority party come January. In the new year the GOP will hold all the gavels - and with them, most of the power - on Capitol Hill. But Republicans are still locked out of the White House, which Senator John Barrasso is keenly aware of. He's not happy the president is using his pen on immigration reform or to agree to carbon emission targets with China. 

Wikimedia Commons

As Republicans prepare to take charge of the U.S. Senate, Wyoming Senator John Barrasso is chairing the committee that sets up the Republican agenda. Senator Barrasso says they have a number of topics to get started on.

Wyoming now has four major political parties. That’s according to the Secretary of State’s office. The Libertarian and Constitution parties received more than ten percent of the vote in the Secretary of State race during the 2014 midterms, which means they are now considered major parties by the Wyoming Government.

Prior to election night the University of Wyoming conducted a survey of state residents about their views on candidates and their attitudes about some key issues. University of Wyoming Professor Jim King joins Wyoming Public Radio’s Bob Beck to discuss what they found.

Hugovk / Flickr

Tuesday’s voter turnout in Wyoming was significantly lower than average. Preliminary data from the Secretary of State’s office shows that just 65% of registered voters and 38% of all voting age adults came to the polls.

Peggy Nighswonger, with the Secretary of State’s office, said voters appear to be fed up with the constant conflict between the two dominant parties.

"Some people are a little bit disillusioned with the parties. We do have quite a few more registered voters on our rolls that are unaffiliated than we used to," she said.

The Wyoming Republican Party's sweeping victories on Election night left the chairman of the Wyoming Democrats disappointed. 

Ana Cuprill says she is especially disappointed that Mike Ceballos lost his bid for State Superintendent. She says Ceballos would have had the ability to bring the State Department of Education, the legislature, and the Governor’s office together.

“He’s just that kind of guy and it will be interesting to see if we have to continue with another four years of not being able to work together with the Department of Education.

Charlie Hardy

Facing an incumbent like Senator Mike Enzi, who has been in the U.S. Senate since 1997, is a daunting task. But Democrat Charlie Hardy says he took on the challenge to give better representation to those people in Wyoming without the money or connections to represent themselves, like children, the elderly and working families.

Hardy says these people also have a harder time voting and that could be why in Tuesday’s election, Enzi retained his seat with over 70 percent of the vote.  Hardy is thankful for the voters who did turn out for him, though.

The race for Wyoming’s schools chief was expected to be a close one, but it wasn't. Republican Jillian Balow defeated Democrat Mike Ceballos in the race for State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tuesday night with more than 60 percent of the vote.

Despite his party affiliation, Ceballos earned credibility in deep-red Wyoming with his business leadership experience. He racked up a string of key endorsements, and outspent Balow during the campaign, but Ceballos says he didn’t make his case to enough people.

Irina Zhorov

Wyoming Democrats had high hopes of gaining some legislative seats on election day, but in the end, they gained only one in the House.

Democratic newcomers Charles Pelkey in Laramie, JoAnn Dayton in Rock Springs, and Andy Schwartz in Jackson picked up Republican seats, but that was trumped by losses of previously held Democratic seats in Fremont and Laramie County. 

Tuesday night, incumbent U.S. Senator Mike Enzi handily won his race against Democratic challenger Charlie Hardy, taking over 70 percent of the vote. Enzi has served in the U.S. Senate since 1997 and worked on numerous committees including Finance and Homeland Security. While he is considered one of the most conservative senators in office, he’s also given for credit for working across the aisle on many issues. Enzi says he’s signed over 100 bills into law during his tenure in office.

Angus Thuermer / WyoFile

Voters roundly defeated a proposed Constitutional Amendment that would have allowed non-residents to serve on the University of Wyoming’s Board of Trustees.

The Wyoming Constitution specifies that anyone serving on the Board of Trustees should be eligible to vote in the state. The amendment would have allowed the Governor to appoint up to two non-residents to the 13-person Board. 

In Tuesday’s election, U.S. Representative Cynthia Lummis won her fourth term in office, beating out Democrat Richard Grayson with almost 70 percent of the vote. She says Wyoming people were clear in their message that they prefer stronger state control.

"I’m looking forward to working with a Republican Senate to keep government at the federal level focused on what it was designed to do," she says. "Which is protect our borders and provide for the defense of this nation. And allow states to function in the areas of air, land, water, wildlife."

Governor Mead handily beat Democratic Challenger Pete Gosar. A strong economy generally favors the incumbent, and Mead undercut one of Gosar’s main criticisms when he came out in favor of Medicaid expansion earlier this year. Governor Mead says this term he wants to expand Medicaid in Wyoming.

“We are going to present an expansion plan to the Legislature for their consideration,” he says. “It's going to be a better plan than we had last year going into session.”

During an election season, people often doubt how much their votes count. But according to a new study by WalletHub.com, voters in Wyoming have more influence than any other voters in the country. Spokesperson Jill Gonzalez says that’s because Wyoming has the lowest population of any state and rural states with low populations still have the same number of senators as other more urban states.

While Wyoming residents strongly oppose the Affordable Care Act, residents are supportive of expanding Medicaid to provide health care to those who cannot afford it. A University of Wyoming election year survey conducted in mid - August found that only 24 percent of state residents approve of the Affordable Care Act, while 70 percent oppose it.  

University of Wyoming Political Scientist Jim King says people have a different opinion about Medicaid expansion.

Wyoming Public Radio's Bob Beck joins Morning Edition Host Caroline Ballard to help analyze the races and issues at stake in tomorrow's elections.

Wyo Women's Legislative Caucus

For years women’s groups in the state have expressed concern about the lack of women in the Wyoming legislature. But it has rarely been this bad. Currently the state ranks 46th with women making up 14 percent. 

In 2006 the Wyoming women’s legislative caucus was formed to not only support the 14 women serving in the state legislature, but to also recruit female candidates to run for office. It hasn’t gone well. Melissa Turley is the Caucus Coordinator.

healthreformvotes.org/wyoming

Wyoming lawmakers are asking you to put them back in office on November fourth, but how effective have they been? 

You probably won’t be surprised to hear, this Congress is the least active in the nation’s history. In the past two years, they’ve passed only 181 bills that were signed into law by President Obama. Norm Ornstein, a congressional scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, doesn’t rate it very highly.

“This is an embarrassing and miserable Congress. Really one of the worst I've ever seen.”  

Kim Via Flickr

The Wyoming League of Women Voters is now providing survey results that will help voters decide about whether to retain judges when they go to the polls next Tuesday.

The problem in the past has been that judges who are up for retention aren’t allowed to campaign like other elected officials.

Wyoming’s Congressional Delegation is drafting legislation that would remove wolves from the endangered species list in the state. 

Montana and Idaho had their wolves de-listed via federal legislation and U.S. Senator Mike Enzi says the delegation is gathering support for its own bill. The proposed legislation would put Wyoming’s wolf management plan into law. That plan allows wolves to be shot on sight in most of the state. 

Leigh Paterson

Climate change is a controversial topic in this election cycle, especially when it comes to teaching it in school.  So far only 12 states have adopted a new set of science education standards that include the human impacts on global warming  - and Wyoming is not one of them.

Natalia Macker, who is running to represent District 22 in the Wyoming State House, said something shocking during our recent interview:

Senator Mike Enzi (R)

U.S. Senator Mike Enzi is facing Charlie Hardy in the upcoming General Election.  In his time in office Senator Enzi has been a key player on issues such as No Child Left Behind and the Affordable Care Act. We begin our conversation by discussing the ACA.

GOP Disappointed In Haynes

Oct 23, 2014

The Wyoming Republican Party says it is disappointed that Taylor Haynes has decided to run for governor as a write-in candidate despite losing in the GOP primary election. State Party Chairman Tammy Hooper says that Haynes signed a unity pledge saying he would support all the Republican candidates in the general election.

During a debate last night in Riverton, Democratic candidate for Governor Pete Gosar said that governor Matt Mead has lacked leadership. Gosar pointed to the failure to expand Medicaid among other things.

“We have gambled with our economy on one commodities price, the price of oil. And as we benefited as it went up it is now at 80 dollars and looking to go further south. I hope that the governor has a plan. I look at education policy,  under this governor’s term we have stopped teaching science in our schools.”

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