Elections

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.

There was little turnover during the Northern Arapaho and the Eastern Shoshone tribal elections last week. Elections are held every two years. Half of the Shoshone Council's six members will be new going into the next term, including Clinton Wagon, Jodie McAdam and Rick Harris Jr.

The Northern Arapaho also have three new councilmen-- Forest Whiteman, Richard Brannan and Norman Willow Sr. Re-elected Arapaho councilman Darrell O’Neal says the relative lack of turnover is a sign of support for the council’s decisions this last term.

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.

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. 

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.

The energy industry can have an impact on politics in Wyoming, but other states as well. In North Dakota political spending is way up, with 17 million spent this year, more than double what was spent in 2010. Inside Energy’s Emily Guerin reports on why the stakes have suddenly gotten so high.

North Dakota has always been a friendly, easy place to vote. It is the only state in the country without voter registration, and precincts are small enough that poll volunteers often recognize people who come through the door.

The Wyoming Secretary of State’s office says that Tuesday’s primary election had an average turnout of registered voters.

State Elections Director Peggy Nighswonger says that it was comparable to previous primaries.                           

“Voter turnout for the primary elections was 46 percent of those registered to vote. Turnout is generally much higher for the general election. So if history repeats itself, we’ll likely see a lot more people at the polls on November 4th.”

Three Republic candidates for Wyoming Governor disagreed over how much the state invests in fossil fuels as opposed to alternative fuels during a debate hosted by Wyoming PBS and broadcast by Wyoming Public Radio.   

Republican candidate Taylor Haynes says the state should not be investing money in the private sector and that the market will determine which kind of fuel the public will support. When it comes to alternative energy, Haynes say it works on a smaller scale. 

Cindy Hill Superintendent

State Superintendent Cindy Hill says if she is elected governor she will push good government measures to make it easier for the public to get documents, she also plans to address conflicts of interest that she sees in government.   

Hill will run as a Republican.  She said that she got into the race because she said Governor Matt Mead exceeded his authority of governor when he signed the law that removed her as the head of the Department of Education. 

A Democratic candidate for governor says he is running because he says Governor Matt Mead hasn’t provided the leadership the state needs.  Pete Gosar says Mead has been playing politics with many of his decisions.

“Whether it be Medicaid expansion or climate change or what have you, the governor has just been paying attention to polls and not telling us what he thinks.”

As a member of the state board of education, Gosar says he was upset that Mead did not veto an amendment that kept the board from adopting some peer reviewed science standards for the state. 

A Cheyenne businessman is the fifth Republican to announce his candidacy for Secretary of State.  Ed Murray owns a real estate and investment company and wants to use his business experience to update the office of Secretary of State.  Among his goals are to make the position more business friendly.                      

Two former legislators have announced that they will seek the Republican nomination to become Wyoming's Secretary of State.  Incumbent Max Maxfield is not seeking re-election. 

Former House Corporations Committee Chairman Pete Illoway  says he actually considered running for the office several years ago.  His committee worked closely with the Secretary of State to modernize the post.  Illoway wants to continue making it business friendly.

An administrator in the Wyoming Department of Family Services says she is running for state superintendent of public instruction.

Governor Begins His Re-election Campaign

Mar 11, 2014

Wyoming Governor Matt Mead made it official, he is running for re-election.  In his announcement Mead said that he has helped enhance Wyoming’s business climate and has been successful fighting the federal government.  He noted that when he took office the feds were not releasing coal leases.   

Wyoming Democrat Mike Ceballos has announced he’ll be running for Superintendent of Public Instruction. Ceballos is a business man without direct experience in education, but he’s been involved in various education foundations and sits on several education-related boards. He says his skill-set is appropriate for the job.   

Cheyenne-native and retired priest Charlie Hardy has announced his bid to run in the 2014 U.S. Senate race against incumbent Senator Mike Enzi.  Hardy says he feels compelled to run because he wants to bring some of Wyoming’s values—like cooperation and respect—out to Washington.   He says his opponent hasn’t done such a good job of representing Wyoming’s values.

“He is a very nice person, very pleasant person,” he says.  “But if you look at the voting record, I think there’s been some voting that hasn’t been very nice and hasn’t really served the people of Wyoming.”

Northern Arapaho Tribal Elections On Hold

Nov 15, 2012

The Northern Arapaho general tribal election, which was supposed to take place today, has been postponed to December.

First, the tribe will conduct a new primary later this month. The original primary election’s results have been voided because Arapaho Business Council members said one candidate, Kim Harja, should not have been on the ballot. Harja is supposed to sit out until 2016 because she was previously dismissed from the Council.

During this week's presidential debate, President Obama challenged Mitt Romney’s assertion that oil drilling on public lands was down by 14 percent. Almost as soon as they cleared the stage, a flurry of fact-checking revealed that while the rate did drop in one year—mostly due to the moratorium on drilling after the BP oil spill—drilling has increased on public lands during Obama’s tenure. 

Legislative races should drive voter turnout

Aug 20, 2012

Wyoming’s primary election is Tuesday/today and despite the fact that there is not a high-profile federal or statewide candidate on the ballot, the State elections Director predicts a solid turnout. 

Peggy Nighswonger  says there is interest in a different set of races this year.       

“I think there will be a lot of interest in the legislative races.  We have 15 legislative races where the incumbent is not going to be running. 

State Senator Charles Scott of Casper is facing a challenge from veteran Representative Bob Brechtel.  The two are competing in the Senate District 30 Republican Primary.

Sen. John Barrasso faces two Republican opponents in next week’s primary election. One of them is Thomas Bleming of Lusk.

Bleming is a former soldier of fortune and says what most sets him apart from the incumbent is that he opposes the Patriot Act, which Barrasso voted for.

Bleming says to balance the federal government, he would make sweeping cuts.

Registered Republicans will be able to vote in precinct caucuses tomorrow/Thursday in both Sublette and Goshen counties.

Bob Rule is state committeeman for Sublette County. He says precinct caucuses are important because they serve as the entry point for political participation.