This year’s general election in Wyoming will have the most third-party candidates to run in the state than any time in the last 100 years. One would have to go back to the World War I era of Wyoming politics, a time when the Socialist and Progressive political parties held a legitimate coalition of voters in the state, to find a time when there were more third-party candidates.
There are 20 minor party candidates running in Wyoming’s statewide elections this November. Richard Winger, a San Francisco-based political scientist with Ballot Access News, confirmed that it is the most minor party candidates to run in Wyoming since prior to 1920.
The majority of this year’s third-party candidates are running as Libertarians.
One of the most competitive is Libertarian Bethany Baldes, a Riverton resident running against Rep. Ember Oakley, R-Riverton, in House District 55. Baldes is a well-known member of the Riverton community and lost to Oakley by 52 votes in 2020. In 2018, she lost to Republican David Miller by 53 votes.
Baldes’ husband Jared Baldes is running for governor as a Libertarian, while her father Richard Brubaker is running for U.S. Congress as a Libertarian.
“I think it’s wonderful,” Jared Baldes said. “Nothing is more important than for the voters to have choices in their elections. In Wyoming, there’s not a lot of choices outside the primary elections.”
Jared Baldes said the U.S. needs to move away from its current two-party dominated system.
“You have right wing, left wing, but it’s all the same bird,” he said.
The Libertarian Party has had a presence in Wyoming for many years. In February, the party became an official minority party in the State Legislature for the first time when State Rep. Eric Barlow, R-Gillette, announced that freshman Libertarian Rep. Marshall Burt, L-Green River, had been appointed to the Corporations, Elections and Political Subdivisions committee.
Burt will take on Republican challenger Cody Wylie.
One Libertarian who may also compete well in the general election is Rock Springs Misty Morris, running against Rep. Clark Stith, R-Rock Springs. Stith is one of the more moderate Republican legislators in the state.
Morris previously owned a gun shop in Rock Springs. She received $500 from a political action committee that was mostly funded by Wyoming State Treasurer Curt Meier. This PAC gave money to a slate of staunchly conservative candidates.
There are seven Independents running in the state-level races. To get their name on the ballot, these candidates had to obtain a certain number of signatures from electors in their district.
Independent candidate Patricia Junek already ran against State Rep. Eric Barlow, R-Gillette, in the Republican primary as a write-in candidate for State Senate 23. She lost by 2,541 votes but will now get a second shot at the incumbent legislator with her name on the ballot.
Jared Baldes said he doesn’t have a problem with losing primary candidates making a second go at an election in the general election, but said if voters have an issue with it, they need to address it at the State Legislature.
“You don’t get to play Monday morning quarterback,” he said.
Although he didn’t run in the primary, Lander resident Jeff Martin is very active in State Republican Party politics, organizing and hosting the “Save Wyoming” rally held in Lander this summer. Martin is running against Rep. Lloyd Larsen, R-Lander, in the general election as an Independent.
There are two minor party candidates running for U.S. Congress with Brubaker and Constitution Party member Marisa Selvig running against Republican Harriet Hageman and Democrat Lynette Grey Bull.
Also running for the Constitution Party in the State Legislature is Michael Williams in Rawlins, Larry Williamson in Gillette and Matt Freeman in Cheyenne.