House Speaker Sommers May Run For State Senate After Session

With Wednesday’s announcement by state Sen. Fred Baldwin that he won’t run for re-election, House Speaker Albert Sommers said he might run for Baldwin’s Senate seat.

Leo Wolfson

February 29, 20243 min read

House Speaker Albert Sommers and Sen Fred Baldwin 2 28 24

Southwest Wyoming will see a change in political representation in the Wyoming Legislature next year that also could shake up legislative leadership.

State Sen. Fred Baldwin, R-Kemmerer, announced Wednesday this is his last legislative session because he won’t run for reelection after his term expires in the fall. With that door open, House Speaker Albert Sommers, R-Pinedale, said he’s considering running for Baldwin’s Senate seat.

Baldwin told Cowboy State Daily deciding not to run for reelection was difficult and didn’t come overnight.

“My years here have been a pleasure and certainly not always easy,” he said. “The amount of time spent away from my home and family weighed heavily on my decision.”

Shortly after Baldwin’s announcement, Cowboy State Daily confirmed with Sommers that he’s considering running for Baldwin’s Senate District 14 seat next fall.

Sommers also said he won’t run for his own current seat again under any scenario, adhering to the traditional practice held by Wyoming House speakers of stepping down from their respective chamber after serving.

Rep. Steve Harshman, R-Casper, strayed from this tradition, serving as speaker twice and has continued to serve in the House since that time.

“I think it’s good to step down from the House after you serve as speaker,” Sommers said. “I respected Rep. Harshman’s reasons, but I think that’s been a good, old tradition.”

Baldwin’s Legacy

Baldwin, known for his friendly demeanor and self-deprecating humor, is chairman of the Senate Labor, Health and Social Services Committee and a member of the Travel, Recreation, Wildlife and Cultural Resources Committee.

He has served in the Senate since 2017 and before that served one term in the House.

“Senator Baldwin has done Wyoming proud,” Senate President Ogden Driskill said in the press release. “He is a dedicated public servant and his work in the health care policy realm has made a big impact for the better for people all across the state of Wyoming.”

Baldwin is a physician’s assistant in his professional capacity. Sommers said his medical expertise and pleasant demeanor has been particularly valuable for a Legislature that has become increasingly divisive of late.

Paul Ulrich, a Pinedale resident, board member with the Wyoming Energy Authority and vice president of government and regulatory affairs for Jonah Energy, said Baldwin always made it clear his constituents were his top priority.

“He’s been a great public servant for those of us in his district,” Ulrich said. “He’s very thoughtful and measured in his approach.”

Who Will Replace?

Baldwin’s retirement and Sommers’ departure from his House District 20 seat could create a vacuum of potential candidates seeking to fill those offices.

Ulrich said he has been approached to run for the seat and would consider it after the session is over.

Pinedale resident Cat Urbigkit and La Barge resident Mike Schmid are also potential candidates, who both confirmed they are considering running for HD 20.

Schmid said he’s received a lot of support to do so and will make a decision sometime in March after the legislative session is over.

Urbigkit said she also won’t make any decision until the Legislature adjourns.

Longtime candidate Bill Winney also confirmed he will run again for HD 20. Winney has run in every Wyoming election year since 2010.

Leo Wolfson can be reached at

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Leo Wolfson

Politics and Government Reporter