Upset That Your Candidate Didn’t Win? Blame The Also-Ran Candidates Who Never Had Any Shot At Winning

Thomas Kelly withdrew from the superintendent's race but too late for his name to get taken off the ballot. As his political ideology was similar to Schroeder, many of those 11k votes would likely have gone to Schroeder which could have changed the outcome.

August 19, 20223 min read

Collage Maker 19 Aug 2022 02 42 PM
(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

Candidates can sometimes make a major impact on elections even after they’ve withdrawn. After quitting the race, Republican Superintendent of Public Instruction candidate Thomas Kelly still received 11,417 votes. 

Kelly withdrew from the race on Aug. 1, 16 days before the primary election. Voters were notified with signs and verbally told by election workers throughout the state that he had withdrawn from the race. 

Not only did Kelly miss the deadline to remove his name from the ballots, but absentee balloting opened in Wyoming on July 1, a full month before he withdrew his name.   

Kelly shares a similar political ideology with current Superintendent Brian Schroeder and endorsed him after resigning from the race. Schroeder lost to challenger Megan Degenfelder by 3,555 votes. 

Degenfelder is a sixth-generation Wyoming native, while Schroeder and Kelly are relatively new transplants to the state.  

It’s common for candidates to withdraw from races before election day. Kelly gave a common reason for dropping out, in that he did not see himself having enough support to win and did not want to prevent a “solid conservative” from winning the race. 

“I hope the margin of whoever was voting for me doesn’t screw the race up,” Kelly told Cowboy State Daily in an interview announcing his departure.  

Degenfelder has a slightly more moderate stance than Kelly and Schroeder on certain issues, preferring to give more power to local stakeholders on issues like the teaching of Critical Race Theory, rather than initiating statewide mandates. 

She will take on Democrat Sergio Maldonado Sr. in the general election. 

State Sen. Dan Dockstader, R-Afton, is another major candidate who pulled out of a state-level race after ballots were printed.

Dockstader pulled out of the race about five days after absentee voting started in early July. He endorsed fellow candidate State Sen. Tara Nethercott, R-Cheyenne, who finished second. 

Dockstader received 3,465 votes, while Nethercott received nearly 13,000 fewer votes than winner State Rep. Chuck Gray, R-Casper. 

Despite Dockstader’s backing, Nethercott still lost Dockstader’s home of Lincoln County by 108 votes. 

Third place finisher Mark Armstrong, who is more similar politically to Gray than Nethercott, received 14,292 votes. 

There were 14,372 people who cast a ballot statewide who did not vote in the Secretary of State race, causing Wyoming ACLU lobbyist Sabrina King to remark on Twitter that this number “will haunt my dreams for the next four years.” 

“It makes me wonder how many people who switched parties to “save democracy” or whatever but couldn’t be bothered to research any further down ballot than (U.S. Rep. Liz) Cheney,” she tweeted. 

A total of 153,276 people voted in the Secretary of State race, while 170,409 voted in the U.S. House race. 

There are no Democrats running in the general election for this race.

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