Primary Election Tuesday

David Peck

Contested races create interesting lineup

Voters across Wyoming will go to the polls next Tuesday to nominate a slate of candidates who will be elected in the November general election, but in Republican heavy
Wyoming, many partisan races across the state – including in
Big Horn County – will be decided on Tuesday.

Polls are open from 7 a.m.
to 7 p.m. in each community.

Easily the most watched race nationally is the Republican primary for Wyoming’s lone seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. Rep. Liz Cheney has the political race
of her life on her hands, receiving a strong challenge from
Cheyenne attorney Harriet Hageman, a former supporter backed in the race by former president Donald Trump.

Also on the GOP ballot are state senator Anthony Bouchard of Cheyenne, Denton Knapp of Gillette and Robyn Belinskey of Sheridan.

There are three candidates for the Democratic nomination for the House: Lynnette Grey Bull of Fort Washakie, Steve Helling of Casper and Meghan Jensen of Rock Springs.

One nominee from each party will advance to the November 8 general election.

Wyoming’s top five elected officials are up for election this year, including Gov. Mark Gordon, seeking his second term in office. Challenging Gordon for the Republican nomination are Brent Bien of Sheridan, James Scott Quick of Douglas and Rex Rammell of Rock Springs.

Democratic challengers hoping to move on to November are Theresa Livingston of Worland and Rex Wilde of Cheyenne.

With Wyoming Secretary of State Ed Buchanan retiring to become a district court judge in Goshen County, the race for Wyoming’s state second in command is wide open. Candidates for the Republican nomination are Mark Armstrong of Centennial, Rep. Chuck Gray of Casper and Sen. Tara Nethercott of Cheyenne. Sen. Dan Dockstader of Afton filed for the office and will be on the ballot but has withdrawn his candidacy to endorse Nethercott.

There is no filed Democratic candidate for Secretary of State.

There is a four-way race for Wyoming Supt. of Public Instruction on the GOP primary ballot in current Superintendent Brian Schroeder, who was appointed to the post when Jillian Balow moved out of state to take the same position in Virginia. Challenging Schroeder for the Republican nomination are Megan Degenfelder, who worked for Balow in the office, Robert White of Rock Springs and Jennifer Zerba of Casper. Thomas Kelly of Sheridan also filed for Superintendent and will be on the ballot but has withdrawn his candidacy.

Sergio Maldonado of Lander is unopposed for the Democratic nomination.

Wyoming State Treasurer Curt Meier is being challenged for the Republican nomination by Bill Gallop of Cheyenne, and there is no filed Democratic candidate.

Wyoming State Auditor Kristi Racines is unopposed for the Republican nomination, and no Democratic challengers filed for the office.


A very interesting three-way race for the District 19 seat in the Wyoming State Senate features current Sen. RJ Kost of Powell, former longtime Sen. Ray Peterson of Cowley and Rep. Dan Laursen of Powell. There is no filed candidate on the Democratic side of the ballot.

Four Republican candidates are hoping to replace the retiring Rep. Jamie Flitner for the District 26 seat in the Wyoming House of Representatives: Dalton Banks of Cowley, Tim Beck of Lovell, Tim Mills of Greybull and Gary Welch of Lovell. There is no Democratic candidate on the ballot.

County races

Perhaps the most interesting race in Big Horn County is a five-way battle for two seats on the Big Horn County Commission featuring two incumbents, one former commissioner and two challengers for two seats on the commission. Running for the GOP nomination, with no Democratic challengers, are commissioner Felix Carrizales of Burlington, commissioner Dave Neves of Emblem, former commissioner Deb Craft of Basin, Mel McArthur of Lovell and Greg Rael of Lovell. Two of the five will advance to the general election in November.

With the impending retirement of Del Atwood, there is a rare contested race for county coroner, with four candidates vying for the Republican nomination: deputy coroner Bill Brenner of Greybull, Clayton Draggoo of Basin, Megan Geise of Greybull and deputy coroner Mike Jameson of Lovell.

Sheriff Ken Blackburn of Cowley is being challenged for the GOP nomination by former deputy Ken Nelson of Greybull.

Five county officials are unopposed for the Republican nomination to their offices: county attorney Marcia Bean, county clerk Lori Smallwood, county assessor Gina Anderson, clerk of district court Serena Lipp and Nicole Vigil of the Basin area, who currently works in the county treasurer office and hopes to succeed treasurer Becky Lindsey.

Town races

Most non-partisan races for municipal office in North Big Horn County have a slate of unopposed candidates, with one town having no candidates at all.

There is only one contested local race, with four candidates vying for two seats on the Cowley Town Council: current council members Scott Crosby and Nick Sponsel, former councilwoman Diane Badget and challenger Emily Simmons. All four will advance to the general election – two per open seat.

In Lovell, three councilmen are unopposed. Dan Anderson and Bob Mangus are running to retain their four-year seats on the council, and Ray Messamer is running to retain the seat to which he was appointed when Tom Newman was elevated to mayor when Kevin Jones moved out of state. Messamer’s seat carries a two-year term this go-round. Only Carol Miller will not be on the ballot, being midway through her four-year term.

Mayor Newman is unopposed on the ballot, as is Byron mayor Pam Hopkinson, Cowley mayor Joel Peterson and Deaver mayor Bill Camp.

Frannie mayor Vance Peregoy did not file for office, nor did any member of the Frannie council, leaving all three positions open for write-in nominations.

There are two candidates for two seats in Byron – Brandon Hessenthaler and Toby Turnupseed – and in Deaver – Steve Gillett and Kayla James. Hessenthaler, Gillett and James are current members of their respective councils.

Also on the ballot are party precinct committeemen and committeewomen.

Polling places in North Big Horn County are the community center in Lovell, the log gym in Cowley, the town complex in Byron, the community hall/town hall in Deaver and the town hall in Frannie.

The Bank of Lovell will host an election party Tuesday starting at 7 p.m.

Big Horn County Clerk Lori Smallwood this week issued the following reminders:

• Absentee ballots must be received in the clerk’s office by 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 16. They cannot be returned to the polling location.

• In a change from the past, all Wyoming voters will be required to show one of the following acceptable forms of ID when voting in person:  Wyoming driver’s license or ID card, tribal ID card, U.S. passport, U.S. military card, driver’s license or ID card from another state, University of Wyoming student ID, Wyoming community college ID, Wyoming public school student ID or a valid Medicare or Medicaid insurance card.