Well-Known Rancher Cat Urbigkit Announces Run To Replace House Speaker Sommers

Sublette County rancher Cat Urbigkit on Friday announced she’s running to replace House Speaker Albert Sommers in the Wyoming Legislature, who isn’t running for reelection. Urbigkit describes herself as being more of a Libertarian than Sommers.

Leo Wolfson

April 05, 20245 min read

Cat Urbigkit
Cat Urbigkit (Cowboy State Daily Staff)

Boulder-area rancher and writer Cat Urbigkit has lived and breathed Wyoming nearly her whole life.

It’s her understanding of the state’s issues and challenges that makes Urbigkit believe she’s ready to serve in the Wyoming Legislature, announcing her candidacy for House District 20 in Sublette County, a seat that has held significant power the last couple of years.

“I’m running because I feel like I could be a strong voice and an efficient voice for this district,” she told Cowboy State Daily on Friday morning. “I’m running for the people and the landscapes.”

Urbigkit is running in the Republican primary to replace House Speaker Albert Sommers, R-Pinedale, who is stepping down from his seat at the end of his term.

A rancher and a writer based in the Big Sandy area near Boulder, Urbigkit considers herself a limited-government Republican.

Although Urbigkit said she agrees with and supports Sommers on most issues, they don’t agree on everything. Urbigkit said she carries more of a Libertarian streak.

“There’s a lot of things when it comes to the government that’s not the government’s business,” she said. “I’m a firm believer in individual liberties.”

Sommers has been a staunch advocate for mental health and that the government should play a role in trying to resolve many of the mental health issues plaguing the state.

“The government should do for people what the people cannot do for themselves,” she said. “There’s a dire need for help throughout Wyoming’s communities.”

Who’s Urbigkit?

Urbigkit has spent most of her life in Sublette County and was a journalist, funding the Sublette Examiner newspaper and writing for the Pinedale Roundup.

Urbigkit left the newspaper business to write nonfiction books and was the owner and editor of a national sheep industry magazine until recently. She also has been a popular weekly columnist for Cowboy State Daily.

"I have a history of researching and reporting on the facts, holding public officials accountable and challenging governments to improve flawed programs,” she said.

Urbigkit is a former chairperson of the Sublette County Republican Party and a current precinct committeewoman. She also serves on the Sublette County Predator Management Board.

She’s never run for the Legislature before, but lost a close election for county commissioner about a decade ago.

Urbigkit said her top priorities if elected will be adhering to the U.S. and Wyoming constitutions.

"Beyond that, I would weigh whether legislation helps or harms our citizens, whether it protects or suppresses individual liberties, whether it reflects the proper role of government, and whether it is structured in a way that promotes the principles of good government,” she said in a statement.

Real Issues

Urbigkit believes the Legislature has become distracted with various social issues that impede local control with government intrusion. She also believes many legislators are being driven by the sheer contempt they hold for each other rather than helping the people they represent.

“I believe I would bring forward good faith, policy-driven values,” she said. “People on the other side are not our enemy.”

Specifically, Urbigkit has been critical of the tactics and policies espoused by the farther right Wyoming Freedom Caucus, and said she doesn’t plan to align with the group if elected. She said her views are more aligned with the Wyoming Caucus, which has formed to oppose the Freedom Caucus.

“I do not support their efforts on a lot of issues,” she said. “They focus toward issues I do not believe are of importance in Wyoming.”

But no matter the differences, Urbigkit said she always tries to focus on finding middle ground when engaging with those who have different political viewpoints by focusing on the issues themselves, rather than the ideology behind them.

Her biggest focus, Urbigkit said, will be the issues that affect Wyomingites every day of their lives.

Sublette County is particularly dependent on mineral production, an economic structure largely shared throughout Wyoming. She believes Wyoming needs to continue serving as one of the nation’s largest energy providers by still supporting its legacy industries while also diversifying with alternative energies.

Urbigkit also plans to hone in on wildlife and agricultural issues if elected, based on her many years spent working on committees dedicated to forest, resource and wildlife management and livestock industry organizations.

Mike Schmid, a former Wyoming Game and Fish commissioner and owner of a La Barge oil drilling company, has also announced he’s running as a Republican for HD 20. Schmid was not immediately available for comment.

He generally espouses more conservative viewpoints than Urbigkit.

Schmid ran in the 2022 primary election, losing to Sommers by 720 votes in the Republican primary.

Urbigkit had no comment on Schmid’s campaign.

Leo Wolfson can be reached at leo@cowboystatedaily.com.

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Leo Wolfson

Politics and Government Reporter