Aug. 17 brings close primary elections on state, district levels
On Aug. 17 citizens of Wyoming had the chance to take the first step in choosing the state’s next round of elected officials in the primary elections, which resulted in several close races on both the statewide and district levels.
It was the closest gubernatorial primary Wyoming has seen in nearly 25 years. Republican candidate Matt Mead of Cheyenne has family roots in Teton County, and he won in 14 of Wyoming’s 23 counties, gaining him the win even though Rita Meyer took the state’s two most populous counties, Laramie and Natrona, by significant margins.
While several primary election races were close, Wyoming’s secretary of state Max Maxfield says no recounts were necessary. State law requires a recount when the number of votes between the winning and losing candidate is less than one percent of the votes cast for the winning candidate.
The 714-vote difference between the chosen Mead and second-place candidate Rita Meyer is above that threshold, which would have required a difference of 303 votes or less for a recount.
In addition to the gubernatorial race, there was also a close contest for State Auditor on the Republican ticket between Cynthia Cloud and Bruce Brown. That race was also not within the one percent recount margin, with unofficial totals of Cloud at 47,356 votes – 51 percent – and Bruce Brown with 45,771 votes.
In House District 6 the race was separated by a narrow margin of 12 votes between Richard L. Canady and Richard. C. Grant Jr, but, based on the unofficial results, 11 or fewer votes would be needed to trigger a recount.
“If anything changes between the unofficial and the official results, we could see a recount in that district,” says Maxfield, who expected to see the results of the Converse County Canvassing Board by Friday, Aug. 20.
A total of 107,660 Wyoming citizens voted in the Republican primary, according to Maxfield’s office. The Democratic party saw 25,738 voters, while 3,589 voted as independents. Those numbered equaled 52 percent of registered Wyoming voters. Over the past five primaries Wyoming has averaged a 53 percent voter turnout.
Voter turnout in the last five general elections during presidential years has averaged 98 percent, while turnout in general elections in non-presidential elections averaged 62 percent.
Democratic candidate for Governor Leslie Peterson of Teton County won her party’s nomination with 48 percent of the votes, followed by Pete Gosar with 37 percent of votes.
Republican candidate for Governor Ron Micheli followed the top two candidates in third place with 26 percent of the vote, while candidate Colin Simpson gained 16 percent, only winning his home county, Park County. Alan Kousoulos, Tom Ubben and John Self followed, each with a statistical zero percent of votes.
Republican candidate for Superintendent of Public Instruction Cindy Hill was chosen to advance to the general election Nov. 2 with 49 percent of voters choosing her for the position. The incumbent Jim McBride followed with 25 percent of votes, with Trent Blankenship and Ted Adams rounding out the field with 15 and 11 percent of votes, respectively.
Incumbent Republican Cynthia Lummis was reelected for U.S. House District 1 with 83,924 votes and 83 percent of the vote. Evan Slafter, who garnered 17,122 votes, or 17 percent, opposed her.
Maxfield’s office said Aug. 19 that unofficial election results were still arriving from some counties, and that there was a possibility of write-in nominations. The statement said tallying was progressing slowly because of the high number of write-ins.
The Secretary of State’s office says that’s because many races had no major political party represented for the primaries, which includes 36 House seats and seven Senate seats that did not have a Democratic candidate. Five House seats and three Senate seats had no Republican candidate filed, and the State Auditor and State Treasurer had no Democratic candidates in the race.
According to Maxfield, to be considered a write-in candidate for a statewide or legislative race a candidate needs a minimum of 25 votes. “Based on the unofficial results that have been received, it appears there is a possibility of a write-in candidate getting the Democratic nomination in the following races: State Auditor and State Treasurer and House Districts 14, 25, 46, and 54,” says a statement from Maxfield’s office.
There was also a possibility of a Republican candidate getting the nomination in House Districts 44, 48, and Senate Districts 7, 9 and 13.
“The county clerks will now do the laborious work of listing each write-in by name. Once that information is received from each participating county, my office will collate the results and we will see if any one individual meets the requirement of 25 votes or greater. If so, the top write-in vote getter may be offered that nomination once the results are canvassed by the State Canvassing Board,” says Maxfield.
Meanwhile, Rita Meyer has endorsed Matt Mead for Wyoming Governor. “As I committed when I announced my candidacy, I will support Matt Mead for Wyoming Governor on Nov. 2 in any way that I can,” she said Aug. 18.
With 10 weeks left before the general election, Mead is said to have a clear advantage against Democratic opponent Leslie Petersen with a political climate currently favoring Republicans.
Christy Hemken is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at email@example.com.