Primary Election ballot determined; Incumbents to be challenged for state, county and town/city offices

By Ernie Over, managing editor,

(Lander, Wyo.) – Now the campaigning begins. The 2012 August primary election in Fremont County will feature a number of contested races for elected positions.

No Democrats filed for the three Fremont County Commission seats that are up this year, ensuring that the political make-up of the board will remain 4 to 1 Republican,  but in the GOP primary, incumbents will face challenges.

The most candidate interest surfaced in Commissioner District #2 where four Republicans are seeking nomination. Incumbent Dennis Christensen of Midvale, who is serving his first term, will be challenged by Larry Allen of Lysite, Richard D. Denke of Pavillion and Tim Salazar of Dubois. The district stretches from the Teton County line on the west to the Natrona County line on the East and includes a large geographical area basically north of Highway 26.

Commissioner District #4, comprised of a portion of Lander and east to include Hudson, features incumbent Pat Hickerson who will be seeking his third term and newcomer Debbie Scheler, both of Lander.

Three candidates will seek nomination from District #5, which includes south Lander, east Riverton and the Jeffrey City/Sweetwater Station areas. Current Commission Chairman Doug Thompson will be seeking a fourth consecutive term. The Sweetwater Station area rancher will be challenged by Red Fyler of the Atlantic City/South Pass City area and Jennifer McCarty, who lives just south of Lander.

There will be considerable interest in several races for the Wyoming House of Representatives, especially in House District #54 in Lander where five candidates are stepping up to the plate to earn the right to replace retiring Republican lawmaker Del McOmie. On the Republican side, Andrew Gramlich, Lloyd Charles Larsen and former Fremont County Assessor Eileen Oakley are seeking nomination to advance to the November ballot, while on the Democratic side, Michelle Hoffman will face off against Bruce Palmer. Hoffman is a former Lander School Board member and the current Superintendent of the Wyoming Indian Schools, while Palmer is a current Lander School Board member.

In Riverton, the two candidates seeking election to HD55 will both advance to the general election, barring a third party candidacy or a write-in campaign. The lone candidates at the end of the filing period included incumbent Republican Representative David R. Miller and Democrat Sherry Shelley, the State Democratic Party Secretary.

An interesting primary race is featured in HD34 where first term incumbent Republican lawmaker Rita Campbell of Missouri Valley is facing a primary challenge from Hidden Valley-area rancher and long time GOP activist Lois Herbst. No Democrats filed in HD34.

In the Wind River Indian Reservation District, HD33, Incumbent Democrat Patrick Goggles of Ethte does not have a primary challenge, but on the Republican side, former Republican legislator Jim Allen of the Milford area will face off against St. Stephens area resident Daniel Cardenas. Allen was appointed to to the HD33 seat after the death of long-time legislator Dr. Harry Tipton of Lander, but lost his bid for election to a full term, being defeated by Goggles. Cardenas sought the seat two years ago, and lost in the general by a narrow 17 votes.

The newest legislative district in the county, which encompasses much of Eastern Fremont County including Shoshoni and Lysite, will see a contested primary on both sides of the aisle. HD28 candidates on the Republican ticket include “Roll” Roland W. Luehne of Thermopolis, Echo Renner of Meeteetse and Nathan Winters of Thermopolis. On the Democratic side, Carl Leyba and Connie Skates, both of Thermopolis, will be seeking their party’s nomination. The expanded district has been represented by retiring lawmaker Lorraine Quarberg of Thermopolis.

In the county’s newest State Senate District, SD20, incumbent Republican Gerald E. Geis of Worland is running unopposed for re-election.

The same is true of Fremont County Republican St. Sen. Eli Bebout of Riverton, who is unopposed in SD26.

In the county’s municipal races, three candidates are seeking nomination in the Lander City Council Ward 1 race, including incumbent John Boulette and challengers Sollie Cadman and Dan Hahn. Three candidates also filed in Lander Ward 2, including Lucille Kara, incumbent Cade Maestas and Ken Stroh. Incumbent Linda Barton is unopposed for renomination in Ward 3.

In Riverton, incumbent Ward 1 council member Diana Mahoney will be joined on the ballot by Jonathan L. Faubion while in Ward 2, three candidates are seeking nomination, including Sarah Kalbach, former council member Lee Martinez and current incumbent Todd E. Smith. Ward 3 candidates include incumbent John L. “Lars” Baker and Larry Bauman.

The Dubois Town Council race has attracted three candidates, David A. Bennett, Rick L. Lee and Charles W. Whaley.

Two candidates filed for the Hudson Town Council, including Mike Anderson and Sherry Oler.

In Pavillion, two candidates filed for a full-term, including M. J. Larsen and Tauna Groomsmith. Two candidates are also seeking to fill an unexpired term. They are Bud Kisling and Danette Williams.

The Shoshoni Town Council races features six candidates: Ken Cundall, Brandy Hague, Darla Keever, Bill Marcus, Gary T. Weisz, and Dave Wood.

In the statewide races, incumbent Republican U.S. Representative Cynthia M. Lummis of Cheyenne is unopposed in the primary and will face Democrat Chris Henrichsen of Casper, who is unopposed in the Democratic Primary. A third party candidate is also expected to file for this race later this summer.

Incumbent junior U. S. Senator John Barrasso is facing a primary challenge on the Republican ticket by Thomas Bleming of Lusk and Emmett A. Mavy of Alpine. Democrats lined up for the nomination are William Bryk, who’s mailing address is in New York State, plus Albany County Commissioner Tim Chesnut and perennial candidate Al Hamburg of Torrington.

Deputy Fremont County Clerk Margy Irvine reminded voters that voter registration for the August 21 primary election ends on August 7th.

Independent candidates wishing to file for election face a deadline of August 27th to gather 3,740 signatures for a statewide race and 270 signatures for a Fremont County race. Irvine said any person considering to run as an independent candidate for Fremont County Commissioner should contact the clerk’s office for information.

For the general election on November 6, the pre-election voter registration deadline is October 23rd.