Sour Grapes: Losing Candidates In Wyoming Vent Frustration With Election Results

Sara Burlingame, a Democrat who lost a bid to reclaim her legislative seat, said some Democrats lost to "alt-right candidates who wouldn't know how to even read a bill, let alone engage it critically."

Leo Wolfson

November 11, 20224 min read

Sour grapes
(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

By Leo Wolfson, State Politics Reporter

There were a handful of losing Wyoming politicians who did not take the high road in conceding their races in the general election Tuesday night. 

“My opponent didn’t show up for any debates and kept a steady stream of insults and innuendo hurled at me and my family,” Democratic House District 44 candidate Sara Burlingame said in a Facebook post after losing to Republican Tamara Trujillo.

“It was … exhausting,” she continued. “Across Wyoming, Democrats lost in record numbers – smart, dedicated members of their communities – and some of them lost to smart, dedicated Republicans who have that same love and commitment. But some of us lost to these alt-right candidate, people who wouldn’t know how to even read a bill, let alone engage it critically.”

There’s Precedent

Concession speeches and statements following elections have typically been conciliatory and polite, but this isn’t always the case. 

When Ed Koch lost his New York City mayor’s race in 1989 he remarked, “The people have spoken … and they must be punished.” 

Former President Donald Trump has never conceded the results of the 2020 election.

Libertarian Lost

Libertarian state Rep. Marshall Burt of Green River used his concession speech to criticize the GOP. Burt lost to his Republican opponent Cody Wylie in House District 39, who received more than three times as many votes as Burt.

“We know nothing is guaranteed to us except change and taxes,” Burt said. “Your Republican Party will ensure that we will see more of both.”

Partisan Concerns

Frustration over partisan politics was a common complaint.

Democratic candidate Marcie Kindred, who lost to Sen. Stephan Pappas, R-Cheyenne, in Senate District 7, said voters judged her purely for being a Democrat.

“The Kindred campaign ran circles around Pappas, but Cheyenne still chose to elect the incumbent,” Kindred said. “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been at the door with a constituent, in full agreement on multiple topics, until they find out my party affiliation.”

Kindred said she voted for Republicans herself this year and feels “like I’m in an alternate universe. I vote for who’s right for the job, but that is obviously not where we’re at as a country.”

Marissa Selvig, a Constitution Party candidate who ran for U.S. House and finished last, expressed frustration about the result.

“Well, I’m heartbroken,” she said on Facebook. “My youthful optimism has taken a hit tonight. I guess the majority of voting citizens in Wyoming really aren’t as independent and open minded as they say they are, nor are they ready for real change in America   the status quo has prevailed yet again.”

Larry Williamson, a Constitution Party candidate who lost in House District 53 to Republican Christopher Knapp, followed a similar thread, saying people vote the party line too often.

“(There are) certain people that I know that put party before the people,” he said on Facebook. “These people pushing Rino’s now cry foul. Heads up … if your group does it locally did you not think there are more powerful organizations doing it at higher levels?”

Not All Sour Grapes

Democrat Marguerite Herman mostly took the high road after losing to Rep. Jared Olsen, R-Cheyenne.

“Some candidates in Laramie County supported election deniers, but everyone – win or lose – should recognize that our election system is solid, our county clerk’s office is diligent and we can trust election results in Laramie County,” she said.

Libertarian candidate Bethany Baldes, who lost to Rep. Ember Oakley, R-Riverton, in House District 55, had nothing negative to say about her opponent, but said she will never run again.

“Riverton can rest easy my name will be absent in the next election,” she said.

In another post, Baldes referenced her prior campaigns in 2018 and 2020, both of which she lost by extremely close margins to Republican opponents. Baldes did not continue that trend on Tuesday, losing by 623 votes.

“This has been a 5-year journey for our town and I’m pleased to tell you all it is a chapter closed and the next will find me,” she said.

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Leo Wolfson

Politics and Government Reporter