CHEYENNE – Heading into a session that will require dealing with a historic budget crisis, the Wyoming Legislature added a few Republicans to its ranks through Tuesday’s general election, including one from Cheyenne.
Though some Democratic challengers ran competitive races in Laramie County, every Republican incumbent in the area emerged victorious. The only local incumbent to lose was a Democrat, state Rep. Sara Burlingame, whose seat in House District 44 was among a handful to flip away from the party.
Other close races came in Sweetwater County, where two House seats held by Democrats were flipped. In Green River, the race for a House seat being vacated by its Democratic incumbent was won by Republican Mark Baker, who has previously served as a state representative from a nearby district.
In another Green River race, Democratic incumbent Stan Blake, who was seeking reelection, lost to Libertarian candidate Marshall Burt by about 250 votes. Through his victory, Burt become the first third-party candidate to win a statehouse seat in Wyoming in at least three decades, according to data compiled by legislative staff.
Elsewhere around the state, Democratic incumbent Rep. Andi Clifford won a close race to continue representing the district encompassing the Wind River Indian Reservation. In Albany County, Democratic newcomers won two seats, flipping one previously held by Dan Furphy, who instead won a seat in the Senate.
In the Wyoming Senate, Republicans added to their supermajority by flipping another seat in Sweetwater County, as Democratic incumbent Liisa Anselmi-Dalton lost to county commissioner John Kolb by about 700 votes.
With her loss, the Senate now includes 28 Republicans and two Democrats. The Republican supermajority is the state Senate’s largest in more than a century, according to data compiled by legislative staff.
In the House, Wyoming Democrats netted a loss of two seats. There are now 51 Republicans and seven Democrats, along with a Libertarian and an independent in the House, marking the largest gap between the two major parties in the chamber since before World War II.
Female representation remains low
Female representation in the Wyoming Legislature, which has fallen to one of the lowest levels of any state, didn’t get much of a boost in this year’s election. When all the votes were tabulated, only one additional woman was added.
The addition brings the total number of women serving as Wyoming lawmakers to 15 from a total of 90. At 16.6%, that would still rank among the bottom 10 states for female legislative participation, according to the Center for American Women in Politics.
Despite the losses of Burlingame and Anselmi-Dalton, the number of women was bolstered largely by conservative newcomers in Fremont and Park counties, as well as Democratic newcomer Karlee Provenza, who replaces Charles Pelkey in Laramie’s House District 45.
In Laramie County, a few female candidates won reelection, with only Sen. Affie Ellis facing a challenger in the general election. Sen. Tara Nethercott and Rep. Sue Wilson, both R-Cheyenne, were reelected without opponents in the general election; Nethercott didn't have a challenger in the primary, either. Meanwhile, three female challengers to Republican incumbents lost in local races.
The results leave Wyoming still lagging behind the average gender breakdown of legislatures nationwide. In 2019, the share of women in state legislatures was 28.9%, according to the Center for American Women in Politics.
CORRECTION: The original version of this story incorrectly identified Rep. Sue Wilson and said she didn't have a primary or general election challenger. She did have a primary challenger, but not in the general. The mistake was due to reporter error. The Wyoming Tribune Eagle apologizes for the errors.