Wyoming’s primary elections turned out a record number of registered voters Tuesday, but few surprises.
U.S. Representative Liz Cheney was defeated by Trump-backed challenger Harriet Hageman, as several polls predicted. The congresswoman conceded the race early in the evening when it became clear there was no longer a path to victory. During remarks at Mead Ranch in Jackson, Cheney told a crowd of supporters that she “easily” could have kept her seat, like when she won 73% of the vote in the most recent Republican primary election.
“But it would have required that I go along with President Trump’s lie about the 2020 election,” Cheney said. “That was a path I could not and would not take.”
In Cheyenne, Hageman celebrated her win at an election party on the Cheyenne Frontier Days grounds. WyoFile was denied access to the event.
“Wyoming has spoken on behalf of everyone concerned that the game is becoming more and more rigged against them,” Hageman told supporters. “And what Wyoming has shown today is that while it may not be easy, we can dislodge entrenched politicians who believe that they have risen above the people they are supposed to represent.”
Hageman will face Lynnette Grey Bull in November, who beat two other Democrats to earn her party’s nomination.
Gov. Mark Gordon cruised to an early victory with more than 60% of the vote. Gordon told WyoFile he’s confident going into the November election where he will face Democratic challenger Theresa Livingston of Worland.
“I’ve never lost sight of working on the issues that are, I think, important to Wyoming — diversifying our economy, making sure our freedoms are protected from the federal government, doing our best to make sure that we have a lean government that’s closest to the people and we’ll just keep on that,” Gordon said.
In one of the evening’s tighter races, Rep. Chuck Gray (R-Casper) won the Republican nomination for secretary of state. Gray had based his campaign largely on the premise that Wyoming’s elections are not secure and secured an endorsement from Trump. When the race was called by the Associated Press, Sen. Tara Nethercott (R-Cheyenne) trailed by 8%. Nethercott will remain in the state Senate. There is no Democratic challenger to face Gray in November.
State Auditor Kristi Racines secured another term after running uncontested. State Treasurer Curt Meier beat challenger Bill Gallop with more than 50,000 votes.
The race for superintendent of public instruction came down to incumbent Brian Schroeder and Megan Degenfelder from a crowded field. At press time the secretary of state’s unofficial results had Degenfelder winning by 882 votes but her campaign felt it was too close to call. The winner will face Democrat Sergio Maldonado in November.
Tension between the Wyoming GOP and lawmakers that party insiders deemed RINOs (Republican in name only) defined numerous statehouse races. In the end, challengers ousted several incumbents. Most notably, in District 29. Bob Ide beat incumbent Sen. Drew Perkins by 302 votes in the costliest legislative race in Wyoming history. Perkins has served in the Legislature since 2007, including a term as Senate president. He takes with him considerable institutional knowledge.
Like Wyoming Republican Party Chairman Frank Eathorne, Ide was in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 6 2021. The two of them can be seen in photos and video that show them close to the Capitol during the attack.
Other prominent lawmakers targeted from the right escaped their primary challenges, including Reps. Albert Sommers (R-Pinedale), Landon Brown (R-Cheyenne), Sens. Ogden Driskill (R-Devils Tower) and Cale Case (R-Lander), who was censured by his own county party.
The general election is Nov. 8.