The general election in Wyoming is shaping up to be a quiet affair after the Republican US House primary in August, when Liz Cheney’s criticism of former President Donald Trump cost her party’s support for a fourth term.
Cheney lost to Cheyenne natural resource attorney Harriet Hageman, who is now heavily favored to beat Lynnette Gray Bull. A Native American activist who was also the Democratic nominee for US House in 2020, Gray Bull lost to Cheney by a 44-point margin that year – even wider than the more-than-2-to-1 trouncing Cheney suffered from Hageman.
Like Hageman, Gov. Mark Gordon benefits from Wyoming’s Republican-dominated electorate as he seeks a second term. Gordon faced criticism for COVID-19 restrictions that many in his party considered intrusive and heavy-handed, raising the possibility he would face a serious primary challenge. After lifting the restrictions in 2021 and leaning right on issues including abortion, he didn’t.
Meanwhile, one of the few Republicans who could’ve given him real trouble – Hageman – ran for Congress instead. Gordon beat three Republicans in the primary. He now faces Theresa Livingston, a retired US Bureau of Land Management employee who has campaigned little and remains little-known in the state.
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Democratic voter registration in Wyoming continues to decline, to just 11% of the electorate. That’s down by half from a decade ago, though part of the decline may be attributed to Democrats registering as Republicans to help Cheney in this year’s GOP primary.
Democrats face ever-steeper odds in races including the contest for state superintendent of public instruction. Megan Degenfelder, who was Wyoming Department of Education policy chief under former Superintendent Jillian Balow, is running against Sergio Maldonado, a longtime educator and tribal elder from the Wind River Reservation.
A Democrat has not been state superintendent in Wyoming since 1991. The winner will succeed Brian Schroeder, a former Christian schoolmaster appointed to succeed Balow after she resigned last winter to become state superintendent for Virginia.
The two state constitutional amendments on the ballot would raise the mandatory retirement age for judges from 70 to 75 and allow local governments to invest public funds in equities. The measures would need to get a majority of all ballots cast to succeed. In other words, voters who skip over and don’t vote on the amendments count the same as “no” votes.
Here’s a look at what to expect on election night:
How Wyoming Votes
Wyoming’s rules for mail-in and early voting have changed little in decades. Early voting at county courthouses across the state began Sept. 23. County clerks also began mailing out requested ballots on that day. Several of Wyoming’s 23 counties have ballot drop boxes.
Karl Allred, the secretary of state appointed after Ed Buchanan’s resignation to become a judge in September, has asked county clerks to consider removing drop boxes to alleviate concerns about fraud. There have been no reports of fraud or that any ballot drop boxes have been removed. Allred is not running for secretary of state and will leave office in January.
The AP will tabulate 44 contested races in Wyoming, including three statewide races, one of which is for the state’s sole US House seat. Liz Cheney lost the Republican primary for that seat over the summer. In the 2020 election, the first reports came at 9:54 pm ET and 90% of votes were reported by 12:53 am Wednesday.
The AP does not make projections and will only declare a winner when it’s determined there is no scenario that would allow the trailing candidates to close the gap.
Should a candidate declare victory or offer a concession before the AP calls a race, we will cover newsworthy developments in our reporting. In doing so, we will make clear that the AP has not declared a winner and explain why.
The AP may call a statewide or US House race in which the margin between the top two candidates is 0.5% or less, if we determine the lead is too large for a recount to change the outcome.
The AP will not call down-ballot races on election night if the margin between the top two candidates is less than 2% or if the leading candidate is within 2% of the 50% runoff threshold. AP will revisit those races later in the week to confirm there aren’t enough outstanding votes left to count that could change the outcome.
What Else Should I Know?
Q: What Did We Learn From The Primary?
A: Wyoming voters reward candidates seen as loyal to their interests in this rural, sparsely populated state – and punish those showing any hint of sympathy for Democrats and centrist Republicans in Wyoming or elsewhere.
Q: What’s Changed Since The Pandemic Election Of 2020?
A: A law passed this year allows counties that do not count absentee ballots at polling place precincts on election day to prepare and process ballots on the Thursday or Friday before election day.
Q: How Long Does Counting Usually Take?
A: Wyoming has traditionally had all its counting done by early Wednesday morning.
Q: What Happens After Tuesday?
A: Wyoming’s deadline for candidates to request a recount is Nov. 14. The state canvassing board will meet to certify the election results on Nov. 16.
Reading Up On The Races
Here’s more on the campaigns in Wyoming:
— Cheney ponders 2024 bid after losing Wyoming GOP primary
— Gov. Gordon wins Wyoming GOP primary in bid for 2nd term
— Wyoming primary: 2 Republicans dominate Senate, House races
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The only election drama in this Republican-dominated state came in August, when Cheney lost the GOP primary for the state’s lone US House seat.