In Stunning Announcement, Senate VP Kinskey Won’t Run For Reelection

In a stunning announcement Wednesday, Wyoming Senate Vice President Dave Kinskey, R-Sheridan, announced he won’t run for reelection to his Senate District 22 seat.

Leo Wolfson

April 10, 20245 min read

State Senate Vice President Dave Kinskey, R-Sheridan
State Senate Vice President Dave Kinskey, R-Sheridan (Matt Idler for Cowboy State Daily)

Wyoming Senate Vice President Dave Kinskey said the only person he told he wasn’t going to run for reelection when he made the decision months ago was his wife.

Kinskey, R-Sheridan, said he had been keeping that decision secret since last September. On Wednesday morning, Kinskey broke the news to the public, announcing he won’t seek another term for Senate District 22.

“My commitment to service is total,” Kinskey said in a Wednesday press release. “The jobs as mayor, and as senator, have been nearly all-consuming. Now, after two decades of service, I feel it is time to step back from elected office and turn to what other journeys life may offer.”

Kinskey had served in the Legislature since 2014.

Major Figure

Kinskey served as chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee during the 2023 general session and 2024 budget session, one of the most critical committees in the Legislature for its role in drafting the biennial budget.

He had been removed from his chair position during the 2023 interim session, but was reappointed by the members of the Senate at the start of this year’s budget session.

Kinskey also served as Senate vice president for the 67th Wyoming Legislature, the No. 3 position in the chamber.

“I’m ready to be done with this chapter of my life,” Kinskey told Cowboy State Daily.

What It Means

Kinskey’s departure could serve as a blow to the farther right factions of the Legislature with which he had aligned during the 2024 session.

Although he had been seen as more traditional Republican in the past, Kinskey raised some eyebrows from some in his party during the 2024 session when he opposed the budget passed by his Joint Appropriations Committee. Typically, members of this committee support their budget when it's presented and voted on in their respective chambers.

Kinskey was named chair of a Joint Conference Committee arranged to find a budget compromise with the House, but that committee was quickly dissolved after Kinskey’s group was unable to come to an immediate agreement with the House. In another unconventional move, he later opposed the budget negotiated by a second conference committee made up of mostly Appropriations members.

Kinskey said he wouldn’t answer any questions about “hypotheticals” that he had shifted to the right with his lawmaking.

“I don’t answer questions like that. That’s nothing I’m going to address,” he said.

He also said his knowing he wouldn’t run for reelection did nothing to change the way he legislated during the recently completed session.

Dave Kinskey 3 4 24
(Matt Idler for Cowboy State Daily)

Choosing Sides

State Rep. John Bear, R-Gillette, chairman of the Wyoming Freedom Caucus, said he “certainly has concerns” about Kinskey’s departure “based on his conservative voting record as of late,” but is also confident that a like-minded candidate will step up fill Kinskey’s shoes considering the politics in Sheridan County.

The leadership of the Sheridan County Republican Party is aligned with the political stances of the Freedom Caucus, as is every Sheridan County legislator aside from Rep. Cyrus Western, R-Big Horn, who also recently announced he’s not running for reelection.

Johnson County, however, is a little different story, as it is represented by Barry Crago, R-Buffalo, a member of the opposing Wyoming Caucus.

Opportunity exists for the Freedom Caucus to make more inroads during the upcoming election this year.

In addition to Kinskey, five other members of the Legislature, all from the more traditional GOP wing, have announced they aren’t running for election. However, one of these members, Rep. Jared Olsen, R-Cheyenne, is running for the Senate, and House Speaker Albert Sommers, R-Pinedale, has said he’s also considering doing so.

Desire To Serve

During his time in the Legislature, Kinskey said what he enjoyed most was the opportunity to help his constituents, using his position to help out people with sensitive private matters and more public-facing work such as attending meetings for groups like the wool growers and weed and pest to learn the challenges they deal with.

“Constituent services was where I really liked helping people out,” he said.

Kinskey said these experiences taught him that very little in politics is black or white.

Having previously served as Sheridan mayor from 2005-2014, Kinskey was appointed to fill his Senate District 22 seat left vacant after former Sen. John Schiffer died in 2014.

He was subsequently elected by the voters in 2016 and 2020, running unopposed in both elections. Kinskey said one of his proudest achievements was winning the trust and support of Johnson County voters, a county he also represents in addition to eastern Sheridan County.

SD 22, he said, had historically been represented by Johnson County lawmakers.

“A lot of the job had been assuring people of the district I would never forget about them,” Kinskey said. “I found it very moving that the people of Johnson County trusted me to do a good job.”

Kinskey, who has three children and four grandchildren, said he has deeply appreciated his time in public service but wants to spend more time with his family.

“The prospect of enjoying more time with family is one that I relish,” he said.

His advice to fellow legislators is to enjoy the experience, work hard and take the work seriously but not yourself, and to take criticism like water rolling off your back.

But Kinskey also said he will continue to advocate on local political issues and wouldn’t rule out reentering the political foray at some point in the future.

“I’m not looking for that, but I never say never,” he said. “Whatever life’s journey has in store for me now, I’m excited about that.”

Leo Wolfson can be reached at

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Leo Wolfson

Politics and Government Reporter