Wyoming State Senate elections, 2022

The 2022 Wyoming Senate primary took place on August 16 to determine which candidates qualified for the general election in November. All 30 seats in the Wyoming Senate were up for election, with 21 open due to retirements and redistricting. Heading into the primary, Republicans held a 28-2 supermajority over Democrats in the chamber. The results of the primary set the stage for the battle for control of the upper chamber in this staunchly red state.

Key Races and Results

District 13 Republican Primary

One of the most contentious Senate primaries was the Republican face-off in District 13 between incumbent Senator Tom James and challenger Stacy Jones. Jones, a business owner who touted a conservative platform, defeated the moderate James by 11 points. The race gained statewide attention and outside spending with James facing backlash for supporting a ban on workplace discrimination based on vaccine status.

District 19 Republican Primary

In District 19, attorney Pete Gosar defeated incumbent Senator R.J. Kost, who had served four terms in the chamber. Gosar campaigned on issues like preventing voter fraud and government overreach. The primary race highlighted a rift between the Wyoming GOP establishment and further-right conservatives.

District 29 Republican Primary

Incumbent Senator Drew Perkins lost re-election to Cody businessman Bob Ide in District 29 encompassing Park County. Ide, the owner of aSuccessful Cody marketing firm, branded himself as the true conservative in the race. He will face Democratic challenger Evelyn Brennan in November.

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Candidate Fundraising

Top Fundraisers

In total, 165 candidates filed to run in the Wyoming Senate primary. Fundraising totals leading up to the primary showed ideologically driven campaigns. Stacy Jones in District 13 raised the most of any Senate candidate at over $84,000, giving her the resources to defeat incumbent James. Meanwhile, Pete Gosar in District 19 raised nearly $40,000 in his successful primary challenge against Kost.

Out-of-State Donations

Contributions from out-of-state donors poured into some of the higher-profile Senate primaries. Jones received approximately $50,000 from out-of-state, over half her total fundraising. This influx of outside money proved pivotal in her win over the locally-backed James. Primary challengers like Gosar also got boosts from out-of-state donors trying to shape Wyoming’s legislative direction.

Main Issues

Abortion

Abortion access emerged as an animating issue, especially in Republican primaries. Most GOP candidates promoted anti-abortion policies like the trigger law banning the procedure with limited exceptions after the fall of Roe v. Wade. Hardline stances against abortion access helped conservative challengers like Jones draw a contrast with moderates like James.

Energy and Environment

Wyoming’s economy relies heavily on oil, gas, and coal, leading energy policy to become a focal point. Republicans advocated for fewer regulations and increased drilling on public lands. Some pushed for Wyoming to take over federal public lands to exert more control. The future of fossil fuels and other natural resources divided candidates.

Government Spending

Concerns about government spending and scope also defined many Senate primary races, particularly on the Republican side. Candidates backed reducing Wyoming’s budget, limiting public programs, lowering taxes, and blocking perceived federal overreach. These small-government stances resonated with primary voters.

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Voter Turnout

By County

Voter turnout ranged markedly across Wyoming’s 23 counties in the Senate primary. More populous counties like Laramie and Natrona had turnout above 30%. However, less populated counties like Niobrara and Sublette saw turnout below 10%. The number of competitive primaries also impacted each county’s engagement.

Historical Trends

Turnout statewide reached over 25% of registered voters, higher than the 2018 and 2020 primaries. This uptick largely resulted from the number of open races and hard-fought Republican primaries. Still, turnout paled compared to Wyoming’s 59% turnout for the 2020 general election during the presidential race. Primaries historically engage far fewer Wyomingites.

Impact on General Election

Forecasted Seat Changes

The Republican primary results positioned the party to expand their Senate dominance in November. Flipping District 13 with the Jones victory created the only likely pickup opportunity. Republicans could reach a 29-2 supermajority if Jones defeats Democratic opponent Lynnette GreyBull as anticipated. No Democratic challengers are currently favored.

Competitiveness

Most Senate general election races lack major-party competition due to Wyoming’s heavy Republican lean. Just three featured both Republican and Democratic contenders after the primary. Competitiveness will hinge on a few key races like District 17 where incumbent Mike Gierau faces teacher Amanda Padilla. But sweeping statewide GOP wins remain the expectation.

Conclusion

Wyoming’s 2022 Senate primaries showed Republican infighting between hardcore conservatives and moderates while Democrats lagged behind in resources and competitiveness. The primaries set the stage for the general election where Republicans hold a clear advantage to expand their supermajority control of the upper chamber. Voter turnout and engagement remain relatively muted but the primaries highlighted the passion around wedge issues like abortion access and grievances like perceived government overreach. These factors will help shape Wyoming’s political landscape beyond the 2022 elections.

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FAQ

Q: How many Wyoming Senate seats were up for election in 2022?

A: All 30 seats in the Wyoming Senate were up for election in the 2022 midterms.

Q: Who were the top fundraisers in the Wyoming Senate primary?

A: Stacy Jones in District 13 raised over $84,000, the most of any Senate candidate. Pete Gosar in District 19 raised nearly $40,000.

Q: What was voter turnout like in the 2022 Wyoming Senate primary?

A: Turnout reached over 25% of registered voters statewide. More populated counties saw higher turnout over 30% while rural counties dropped below 10% in some cases.

Q: How did Republican infighting shape the Wyoming Senate primary?

A: Hardline conservatives challenged several GOP moderates, defeating incumbents like Tom James in District 13 and R.J. Kost in District 19. This tugged the party further right.

Q: What is the forecast for the general election in the Wyoming Senate?

A: Republicans are positioned to expand their 28-2 supermajority over Democrats with a likely pickup in District 13. A 29-2 partisan balance is anticipated.

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