By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
The father of a fallen U.S. Marine from Wyoming has filed to run for the state House of Representatives seat representing House District 16 in Teton County, according to the Wyoming Secretary of State’s office.
Jim McCollum, father of the late Lance Cpl. Rylee McCollum, filed to run for the House as a Republican. Democrat Mike Yin currently holds the seat and has filed to run again.
McCollum told KHOL radio in Jackson that running for office was never a lifelong ambition or part of any plan.
“I didn’t seek this. I wasn’t looking for this. It’s not like [I thought], ‘This what I need to do.’ It just found me,” McCollum said. “It’s like, ‘You know what? This kind of makes sense. Maybe I can make a difference.’”
Unlike the rest of the state, Teton County is blue and a Republican candidate is not necessarily the safe bet to be winner. To that end, McCollum played down his party affiliation.
“The ‘R’ behind my name, don’t let that scare you,” McCollum told the radio station. “Respect and responsibility. Think of it that way.”
How does McCollum describe himself? What you see is what you get.
“I’m unfiltered. I’m very raw. Sometimes, I’m abrasive. But you know where I stand. I don’t ride the fence. You know what I say is what I mean,” McCollum said. “But I’m also intelligent enough to know, ‘Hey, you know, my view can change.’ We can have this conversation.”
Meanwhile, Yin, who has served in the Legislature since 2018, didn’t address his competitor directly but told Cowboy State Daily that he looks forward to talking with his community during the campaign about how to best serve Wyoming.
“I’ll continue to focus on how we work to ensure Wyoming is a place we can raise a family and that our kids can live and work in Wyoming and raise their own families in the future,” he said.
McCollum’s son Lance Cpl. Rylee McCollum was killed last August as the United States prepared to pull out of Afghanistan after 20 years of occupying the country. McCollum, 20, was one of 12 soldiers killed in a terrorist attack.
He was married and expecting a child, a daughter who was born weeks after his death.
More than $1 million was raised in support of the McCollum family through various GoFundMe campaigns. Actor Alec Baldwin even donated $5,000, although this would later be at the root of a conflict between Baldwin and the McCollum family that spawned a lawsuit in federal court. The lawsuit was dismissed by a federal judge.
The McCollum family declined to meet with President Joe Biden after the Rylee’s death because they said they held him responsible for the young Marine’s untimely death.
Jiennah McCollum, Rylee’s widow, did meet with Biden briefly but reportedly left disappointed because she said she felt he was following a script.