Aug 15, 2016

Primary election to feature races for Legislature, commission, mayor

While no races will officially be decided in Tuesday’s primary election, some could be all-but determined by the results and many others will be re-shaped.

Locally, Park County voters will cast ballots for candidates running for Congress, the state Legislature, the Park County Commission and Powell mayor, among other races.

Primary elections are generally a partisan affair, where Republican, Democratic and other voters choose their party’s nominees for the general election. In line with an overwhelmingly Republican county, most of the action is on the Republican ballot.

Statewide
At the top of the ballot, partisan voters will find the statewide race to replace U.S. Rep. Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyo., in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Republicans will choose among eight candidates and Democrats two, while Libertarians and Constitutionalists each have one contender. The leading vote-getters from each party will face off in November’s general election.

Park County
Five Republicans are battling for two available seats on the Park County Commission: incumbent Lee Livingston of Wapiti and challengers Jake Fulkerson of Cody, Richard George of rural Cody, Bob Ruckman of rural Powell and South Fork resident Boone Tidwell.

(The other incumbent whose term expires this year — Commissioner Bucky Hall of Cody — is not seeking re-election.)

The top two GOP vote-getters will advance to November’s general election ballot. A Democratic challenger could join the race by collecting 25 or more write-in votes on their party’s primary ballot.

Legislature
Perhaps the most intriguing local race is the Republican primary in House District 24, where incumbent Sam Krone of Cody is facing challenger Scott Court.

Court is not well known in Cody, but the race got a shakeup in late July, when Krone was charged with seven criminal counts alleging he embezzled more than $9,600 from the Park County Bar Association between 2010 and 2013. He is due to make his first court appearance Tuesday morning. Krone has said he’ll be exonerated.

Whoever wins the GOP primary will advance to face Democrat Paul Fees of Cody and an independent bid from Republican Sandy Newsome of Cody — assuming she collects several dozen signatures by Aug. 29.

House District 24 represents the western part of Cody, the North and South forks, Wapiti and the northern part of Yellowstone National Park.

Meanwhile, the primary competition for House District 50 — which includes the eastern part of Cody, Ralston, the Willwood, Heart Mountain, Clark, Crandall and Sunlight — will be much less interesting. State Rep. David Northrup, R-Powell, is unopposed in the Republican primary and so is his Democratic challenger, Mike Specht of Clark. Those two will presumably advance to face off in November.

Even less intriguing could be the race for Senate District 18, where no one is opposing long-time state Sen. Hank Coe, R-Cody.

Republican voters in the Powell area will again be asked to choose whether they’d like to be represented in the state legislature by Dan Laursen or David Blevins. Laursen ousted Blevins in 2014’s primary and now Blevins is looking to return the favor in a House District 25 rematch. The GOP winner will face Democrat Shane Tillotson in November.

City of Cody
With municipal positions being non-partisan, all Cody voters can help winnow the field for city mayor. With three candidates in the race (Charles Cloud, Matt Hall and Tim Lamb) and only two spots available on the general election ballot, the lowest vote-getter will effectively be eliminated today. The two top candidates will face off again in November.

(City of Powell voters will make the same choice with incumbent Mayor Don Hillman and challengers James Andrews and Dawson Wolff.)

Meanwhile, Cody city council candidates Landon Greer, Jerry Fritz and Glenn Nielson are all running unopposed in wards 1, 2 and 3, respectively; Greer and Fritz are incumbents while Nielson is a newcomer.

Election Basics
City of Cody residents cast their ballots at the Cody Auditorium, those who live north and east of the city vote at the Cody Recreation Center, Wapiti and North Fork residents vote at the Wapiti school, South Fork folks gather at the Southfork Fire Hall, Heart Mountain residents vote at the Mountain View Club and Clark citizens at the Clark Pioneer Recreation Center.

You can use the Wyoming Secretary of State's website to figure out your polling place if you're unsure.

As of Aug. 1, Park County had 12,447 registered votes. That’s a little more than half of the adult population.

More than 80 percent of those registered — a total of 10,043 voters — were Republicans. Another 1,255 voters (10 percent) were Democrats and another 1,071 (8.6 percent) were unaffiliated.
Those figures will change today, as Wyoming law allows citizens to register to vote and to change their party affiliation at the polls.

To register, all you need is a driver’s license or a photo ID and Social Security number.

The polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

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