2016 elections: Wyoming

Presidential elections:

Mitt Romney received 68.6% of the Presidential vote in 2012.  This was a fairly similar percentage to the 2008 election where John McCain was able to win 64.8% of the vote.  The biggest question for the 2016 presidential election is how much of the vote Gary Johnson will receive in November.  In the 2012 election, Johnson received 2.14% of the vote in Wyoming.  This was the 4th highest state for percentage of the vote.  It helps that Wyoming doesn’t have very many votes to begin with.  5,326 votes in 2012 were able to get 2% of the vote in 2012.  While the primaries are not predictive of how the election will happen in the general election, Trump struggled noticeably with Western states.  I think it’s possible that Trump’s abrasive nature and his take on conservative policies do not play well with Western states.  I think it’s possible that Johnson can get up to 4% of the vote in Wyoming.  That would double his vote share in 2012 but I do think that this is possible.  I think that Johnson will do fairly well for a third party in Western states, especially with states that have a higher vote share for third parties.

Statewide elections:

Since Wyoming has such a small population, they only have one Representative in the House of Representatives.  The Congressional election is a statewide election.  Liz Cheney is back after losing the 2014 Republican Senate primary in Wyoming.  She won the 2016 Republican primary for the Congressional seat.  That was essentially the election to determine who would be the next Representative from the state of Wyoming.  She won 35,043 votes in the Republican primary.  There were 18,823 votes cast in the Democratic primary.  During the 2014 primary run, she was criticized for opposing same-sex marriage because her sister was a part of a same-sex marriage.  She was also criticized of being a carpetbagger.  At any rate, she is going to win the Congressional election in November against Democrat Ryan Greene.

Ballot measure:

There is one ballot measure found on the Wyoming ballot this year.  It is known as Constitutional Amendment A.  Ballotpedia has the text of the measure:

Currently, the Wyoming Constitution allows the legislature to authorize the investment of public employee retirement systems funds and permanent state funds in equities, such as stock or shares in private or public companies. Permanent funds of the state include funds designated as permanent funds by the Constitution. The Wyoming Constitution does not allow the state to invest any other funds in equities.

The adoption of this amendment would allow the legislature, by two-thirds vote of the members of both houses, to authorize the investment of additional specified state funds in equities.

State treasurer stated that the state’s permanent funds have done three times better invested in equities than other investments.  This would allow the state to get a better return on investment for the state funds and could help solve upcoming budgetary crises.  The ballot measure will likely pass fairly easily.  I do not see any obstacles to it, at this point.

State senate:

District 8:

Affie Ellis (R)
Floyd Esquibel (D)

This is the only competitive district in the Wyoming State Senate election that I can find.  Esquibel won the 2012 general election by less than 300 votes.  There were 337 under votes in this Senate district election.    Affie ellis is a small business owner who is trying to unseat Esquibel.  I think that it will be another close election but I do believe that Esquibel will emerge victorious.

State House of Representatives:

Wyoming House of Representatives District 8:

Bob Nicholas (R)
Linda Burt (D)

Nicholas won the general election in 2012 by less than 400 votes.  Burt is the former director of the ACLU in Wyoming and decided to get involved in the state legislature.  She does not have a campaign website currently up.  This district was also close in 2010 where Nicholas got re-elected with about 300 votes.  With a strong enough candidate, Nicholas could be defeated.  Right now, I think that Nicholas gets re-elected by less than 300 votes.

Wyoming House of Representatives District 11

Jared Olsen (R)
Mary Throne (D)

Throne won re-election in 2014 by 230 votes.  There were about 1,000 less votes in 2014 in this district compared to 2014.  Olsen was a delegate to the Republican National Convention and is challenging Throne.  I think the presidential election will help Throne get more of a margin of victory as she gets re-elected.

Wyoming House of Representatives District 12:

Lars Lone (R)
Lee Filer (D)

Lars Lone was appointed to this seat after Harlan Edmonds resigned from the seat on August 15, 2016.  Edmonds defeated the incumbent Lee Filer in 2014 by 91 votes.  There was 1,769 votes cast for this seat in 2014.  Just 1,769.  Filer held this seat from 2013 to 2015.  He is a fairly strong candidate to try to defeat Lars Lone.  I think that the Presidential election will help Filer be able to retake his seat.  I think it’s a fairly close election and I think Filer retakes the seat.

Wyoming House of Representatives District 15:

Donald Burkhart (R)
DeBari Martinez (D)

Burkhart was originally elected to this district in 2010 by 11 votes.  He won the rematch in 2012 by less than 200 votes.  He ran unopposed in 2014.  He is opposed by DeBari Martinez.  It doesn’t seem to be much of an online presence for Martinez.  If he was a stronger candidate, I would think that this could be a real challenge to Burkhart.  But I think Burkhart is able to win re-election.

Wyoming House of Representatives District 33

Jim Allen (R)
Sergio Maldonado (D)

Maldonado is a candidate who ran against State Senator Cale Case from District 25.  He lost that election by just over 1000 votes.  Allen was elected in 2014 after defeating Andrea Clifford in 2014 by 130 votes.  He had previously been defeated by W. Patrick Goggles in 2012 by 126 votes.  The fact that this is a presidential election should help Maldonado in his quest to upset Allen.  I think that Allen holds onto this seat but I could see it flipping.  This is definitely one worth watching.

Wyoming House of Representatives District 36:

Gerald Gay (R)
Debbie Bovee (D)

Gay was re-elected in 2014 by 168 votes over the Democratic challenger Eric Nelson.  Gay ran into some trouble after he questioned the dependability of women workers and “suggested women were at least partially responsible for Wyoming’s gender-wage gap, one of the worst in the nation.”

The biggest challenge for Bovee, outside of her party, is that she is running as a write-in.  Gay should be re-elected.  If they had a candidate on the ballot with the party next to their name instead of a write-in, I’d have more faith that Gay could be defeated.

Wyoming House of Representatives District 45:

Tom Schmit (R)
Charles Pelkey (D)

Pelkey won election ion 2014 with 1,115 votes leading the Republican opponent Charles Young by 126 votes.  2014 was a good year for Republicans all over the country so I think that this election will not be as close as it was in 2014.  Pelkey should be able to win re-election fairly easily.  I’m going out on a limb and think that Pelkey will more than double his margin in 2016.

Wyoming House of Representatives District 46:

Bill Haley (R)
Ken Chestek (D)

Republican Glenn Moniz is not running for re-election in 2016.  He won re-election in 2014 with 1,826 votes compared to Democratic candidate Mike Selmer’s 1,579 votes.  Neither of the candidates seem to be well known.  Chestek is a law professor running for the open seat.  If we think that 2014 is the main reason Moniz was able to get re-elected, then we should feel pretty confident that the seat could flip to a Democratic held seat.  But I’m not so confident.  Moniz did better in 2012 than 2014.  I think that Haley is able to win this election fairly comfortably.

Wyoming House of Representatives District 48:

Mark Baker (R)
Jackie Freeze (D)

Baker upset the Democratic incumbent Joseph Barbuto in 2012 by 110 votes.  Barbuto challenged Baker in 2014 and failed again.  This time he lost by 27 votes.  It’s very interesting that Baker was able to win in a Presidential election year in 2012.  This doesn’t seem to bode well for Jackie Freeze.  I think Baker is able to hold onto his seat but I think it will be pretty close.