Fort Washakie Democrat Wants To Flip Fremont County House Seat Back To Blue

Fort Washakie Democrat Ivan Posey has announced he’s running for the Wyoming Legislature in an effort to return House District 33 in Fremont County to blue.

Leo Wolfson

April 10, 20244 min read

Ivan Posey of Fort Washakie, right, has announced he's running for the Wyoming Legislature for the House seat held by Rep. Sarah Penn, left.
Ivan Posey of Fort Washakie, right, has announced he's running for the Wyoming Legislature for the House seat held by Rep. Sarah Penn, left. (Cowboy State Daily Staff)

Fort Washakie resident Ivan Posey believes many members of the Wyoming Legislature are well-intentioned, but too easily fall into a state of dysfunction. Posey told Cowboy State Daily he’s confident he can provide an even-keeled perspective to help right the ship.

“It seems like there’s a lot of bickering and not a lot of cooperating in the Legislature,” he said. “It just feels there’s some members of the Legislature that don’t have a willingness to cooperate and talk.”

Posey is running as a Democrat for House District 33 in Fremont County. This seat is now held by state Rep. Sarah Penn, R-Fort Washakie. Penn did not respond to multiple requests for comment about whether she’ll seek reelection.

A Posey win would give state Democrats HD 33 back, a seat previously held by Democrat Andi LeBeau, whom Penn beat in the 2022 election by 210 votes.

Who’s Posey?

Posey said he has a desire to champion tribal, education and veterans issues based on his past experience.

Ivan Posey has been working on tribal affairs on the Wind River Reservation as a member of the Eastern Shoshone Tribe for decades, where he was born and raised. He has three tribal nations in his blood, as his father was Shoshone and Arapahoe, and his mother Cheyenne.

“I was a Wyoming native before it was Wyoming,” he said.

Penn, a nurse practitioner, lives on the reservation but is not a tribal member.

Posey is the tribal education coordinator at Central Wyoming College, a professor and was the first tribal liaison under former Gov. Dave Freudenthal in 2003.

“We didn’t always agree about everything we worked on, but at least we were usually able to find a common ground,” he said of this experience.

Ivan Posey of Fort Washakie, right, is running for House District 33 in the Wyoming Legislature.
Ivan Posey of Fort Washakie, right, is running for House District 33 in the Wyoming Legislature. (Courtesy Ivan Posey)

Indian Child Welfare Act

One of the most contested tribal issues the Legislature handled in recent years was the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) in 2023.

That year, the state passed its own version of the federal law, which gives tribes power over protective-custody cases of American Indian children living on and off of reservations. The federal and state ICWA laws mandate that Indian children taken into protective custody should be placed with a family member, or a fellow tribal member, in any other Indian home, or in a tribal group home – before being placed with a non-native family.

In 2023, the Supreme Court fully upheld the federal law.

Posey said he also supports these laws.

“It’s an important law relating to unification of tribal families,” he said. “When language, customs and traditions are threatened, it’s very important for this education to be redistributed to our young people through our family and tribal value systems.”

Penn also supported Wyoming’s ICWA law, saying at the time it would “maintain the status quo until we can figure out where the state really wants to take this.”

Posey, a self-described conservative Democrat, also served on the Eastern Shoshone Business Council for 21 years and in the Army.

“What I would like to utilize is an ability to contribute,” he said.

He also understands federal land issues, having worked for the U.S. Forest Service for eight years.

The District

HD 33 is made up of tribal and nontribal residents, encompassing the reservation, parts of municipal Riverton, Dubois to the north and Atlantic City to the south.

The district has flip-flopped between Republican and Democratic representation over the past dozen years, which makes Penn’s affiliation with the Wyoming Freedom Caucus interesting, considering the further right bent of the group.

Posey is the second Democrat in Wyoming to announce candidacy for the Legislature in 2024. HD 45 incumbent Rep. Karlee Provenza, D-Laramie, has also confirmed.

A win in HD 33 would be critical for Wyoming Democrats, who they lost two seats in the 2022 election, while the Republicans increased their supermajority, gaining five in total thanks to also turning a couple of third-party seats red and winning a newly created district.

Posey said it shouldn’t matter whether he’s running as a Democrat or a Republican, as long as his district gets better representation.

“We just need someone who is good to represent the district and knows the issues,” he said.

Penn has made health care her primary focus since taking office, sponsoring a number of bills that seek to reduce government regulation over the field. She has remained consistent with her campaign promises to support parental choice in education decisions and oppose vaccine mandates and abortion rights.

Leo Wolfson can be reached at

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Leo Wolfson

Politics and Government Reporter