Races set for primary election, several uncontested

David Peck

It’s looking like a relatively skimpy election year in Big Horn County, with few races developing during the filing period, which ended last Friday, May 31.

The primary election is a nominating election, with winners advancing to the general election in November. Two candidates per non-partisan seat, such as a town council, advance to the general election, along with one candidate per party for partisan races – up to one Republican and one Democrat advancing for each office, if nominated. Write-ins often fill in the non-partisan ballots and/or a partisan ballot for the general (if there was not a candidate for a particular party nomination).

Of note, there is only one candidate for Big Horn County Commissioner for the lone seat up for election this year, as reported by the Big Horn County Clerk’s Office. That seat is currently held by Bruce Jolley of Lovell, who is unopposed in seeking his second term in office as the single filed candidate for the Republican nomination.

There is no filed candidate for the Democratic nomination.

Likewise, Rep. Dalton Banks of Cowley is unopposed for the Republican nomination for the House District 26 seat in the Wyoming Legislature, seeking his second two-year term in office. Like the commission seat, there is no filed Democratic nomination for House District 26.

There are two races in the south part of the county for the House, with both incumbent Martha Lawley of Worland and challenger Tami Young of Worland seeking the GOP nomination for District 27, which covers part of South Big Horn County.

Similarly, incumbent state representative John Winter of Thermopolis has a challenger for his House District 28 seat in fellow Thermop resident Kevin Skates, who is also seeking the GOP nomination. District 28 also covers part of the south end of Big Horn County.

Incumbent senator Ed Cooper of Ten Sleep has a challenger for the Republican nomination to Senate District 20, which includes the south part of Big Horn County, in Tom Olmstead of Basin.


Town races

There are a few races developing for town council in North Big Horn County. In Lovell, incumbent Ray Messamer filed to retain his seat on the town council, but Carol Miller did not. Filing for the council in addition to Messamer were Mike Grant and Gareth Robertson.

All three will advance to the general election, and a fourth nominee (two per seat) could come via write-in.

There will be a race in Frannie, as well, with incumbents Guy DeSantis and Roger Ganoung filing to retain their seats on the council, joined by Shang Clendenen. As with Lovell, there is room for a write-in candidate on the November ballot, as well.

In Deaver, the only two candidates filing were incumbent council members Aspen Beall and Nick Loftus. Likewise in Cowley, incumbents Rob Johnson and Dexter Woodis have filed for their council seats but as of now are both unopposed. Both the Deaver and Cowley council races have room for two write-in nominees.

In Byron, only Toby Turnupseed has filed for office, with neither incumbent – Richard Horton and Karma Sanders – filing for office, according to the clerk’s office.

For party positions, there were a few filings for Republican precinct committeeman and committeewoman. Filing for GOP committeeman in Lovell were James Aagard, Scott Brown, Dymon Hall and Vance Leithead, and filing for committeewoman were Kristi DeFuentes, Sharon Hall and Raelene Wood. There can be up to five precinct representatives in Lovell.

In Cowley (two spots open), Rik Mettes and Owen Wantulok filed for Republican precinct committeeman, and Wendy Fuller and Janice Wantulok filed for committeewoman. No one filed for party positions in Byron, Deaver or Frannie.


State races

There are three challengers for Wyoming’s seat in the U.S. Senate currently held by Sen. John Barrasso. Barrasso has filed for re-election and is being challenged for the Republican nomination by John Holtz of Laramie and Reid Rasner of Mills.

The winner of the three-way GOP race will face Scott Morrow of Laramie in the general election. Morrow is the lone candidate to file for the Senate on the Democratic ticket.

First-term U.S. House of Representatives member Harriet Hageman will face a challenge in the Republican primary from Steven Helling of Casper, with the winner facing off against Kyle G. Cameron of Cheyenne, the single Democrat seeking the House seat.

Though 2024 is a prominent election nationally due to the presidential race, it is an “off year” in Wyoming with all of the top state and county officials, plus all Big Horn County mayors, midway through four-year terms.

The Wyoming Primary Election is scheduled for Tuesday, August 20.

For those interested in filing for special districts – school board, hospital board and the like – the filing period is August 7-26. The general election is Tuesday, November 5.