Candidates Lining Up To Fill House Seat Of Four-Time Casper Incumbent

Two Republican candidates have already announced campaigns to run for House District 56 in Casper, a seat held by four-time Republican incumbent Jerry Obermueller, who recently announced he’s not running for reelection.

Leo Wolfson

April 24, 20247 min read

A pair of Casper Republicans — Pete Fox, left, and Elissa Campbell — have announced they're running for the state House seat held by longtime Rep. Jerry Obermuller, who isn't running for re-election.
A pair of Casper Republicans — Pete Fox, left, and Elissa Campbell — have announced they're running for the state House seat held by longtime Rep. Jerry Obermuller, who isn't running for re-election. (Courtesy Photos)

Whomever is elected to the House District 56 seat Rep. Jerry Obermueller now holds will have some large shoes to fill.

Obermueller, a Republican, has represented his central Casper district for four terms after first being elected in 2016. A certified public accountant, he’s considered one of the strongest financial minds in the Wyoming Legislature.

Two candidates have already announced they are running for Obermueller’s seat in Pete Fox and Elissa Campbell.

Obermueller is the oldest member of the state House at 76. When posed with the decision of whether to step down or commit to more long-term leadership roles in the House, he opted to not run again. He also told Cowboy State Daily that both Fox and Campbell approaching him with an interest in running also swayed his decision.

“I think it’s a good time to let some younger people take the leadership reins,” he said.

Obermueller said he’s spoken with both Campbell and Fox and would support the election of either candidate at this point.

Who’s Fox?

Fox is a Casper native who graduated from Natrona County High School and received a mechanical engineering degree from the University of Wyoming.

He’s worked both white- and blue-collar jobs as a tree surgeon and in his 30-year career working as professional engineer in the oil industry, the latter an opportunity that took him around the world.

After living in Alaska for a dozen years, he moved back to Wyoming three years ago to support his elderly mother.

Fox has spent a significant amount of time studying Wyoming’s budget numbers and overall revenue picture, topics he’s also had long discussions with Obermueller about. He believes the state’s overall revenue streams need to be re-examined as state revenue has slowed while spending increased.

“We have a revenue issue long term that we’ve got to tackle,” he said. “I think we need more to keep it stable.”

On that front, Fox said he supports Gov. Mark Gordon’s “all-of-the-above” approach to energy production, equally embracing traditional fossil fuels, green energy and nuclear power.

“We’ve got coal, we’ve got gas, we’ve got oil; if those are going to get curtailed, we need to start making plans and what that looks like,” Fox said. “The problem is we’re going to have external influences that I don’t think are going to allow us free reign to just keep on producing in perpetuity our carbon-based resources. We need to start making plans now.”

He also questions whether property tax reform is sorely needed in the state and believes that many of the recent tax increases are a result of short-term inflation.

Fox is more conservative when it comes to the Second Amendment, supporting a bill brought by Rep. Jeremy Haroldson, R-Wheatland, in the last legislative session to ban all gun-free zones in Wyoming. Gordon vetoed it.

Fox said he’s also concerned about mental health in Wyoming, mentioning the recent murder of a 14-year old boy in his community. He has a son of a similar age.

“It makes me nervous,” he said. “What’s going on in our schools?”

On other issues, Fox said he plans to gather input from people and represent their wishes if elected to office as a way to restore a declining public trust in government. He believes a lawmaker should blend his own decision making with the desires of the people he represents.

“It’s up to those running to present themselves as transparently as they can,” Fox said. “If these folks that I’m wanting to represent feel there’s a better fit, frankly, I’m perfectly fine with that.”

Although he considers himself a little more conservative than Obermueller and fully supportive of the Republican Party platform, Fox said he appreciated his service and plans to follow the same measured composure Obermueller carried himself with if elected.

“His whole career has been supporting Casper,” Fox said. “A hat tip his way, I think, is an appropriate deal.”

State Rep. Jerry Obermueller, R-Casper.
State Rep. Jerry Obermueller, R-Casper. (Matt Idler for Cowboy State Daily)

Who’s Campbell?

Campbell has similar political views to Fox on most issues.

She is a third-generation Wyomingite who was raised in Douglas and graduated from Kelly Walsh High School. Campbell is also a UW graduate and has been living in Casper since 2003.

She’s spent 25 years in the training and development industry and has experience working as a facilitator and master trainer for a variety of industries, including oil and gas, health care, finance and local government.

In 2018, Campbell started her own business, Elevate Wyoming. She’s also the executive director of Impact Wyoming, a nonprofit that aims to support the Casper Youth Council, which she founded, and Wyoming Youth Government Association in their goals of getting more kids involved in civics, government and business development.

She’s also a Rotarian and a member of the Casper Chamber of Commerce.

“I’ve been really active in city, county and state politics for years, I think we all should be,” Campbell said.

Campbell was also a member of Gordon’s Wildlife Task Force convened in 2021.

Campbell said she believes in local control, fiscal responsibility and limited government. She also believes a collaborative approach is needed to solve problems in the Legislature.

Although she considers herself a strong supporter of the Second Amendment, Campbell believes the issue of whether to ban gun-free zones should be done at the local city and county levels.

“I think those decisions should be made by those who are impacted the most,” she said. “Meeteetse is not Casper and Casper is not Saratoga.”

She has a similar perspective on the issue of parental rights in schools, believing there should be equal collaboration from parents, teachers and students.

When it comes to energy, she agrees with Fox and supports Gordon’s approach.

“There needs to be an investment in a more sustainable future,” she said. “I don’t know how that could be done on just oil and gas.”

If elected, she says she wants to focus on mental health issues, supporting law enforcement, first responders and military and building a strong future for Wyoming.

Like Fox, she said her biggest focus of all will be listening to her constituents.

“Every resident should know and have a good working relationship with their representative,” she said. “I believe in how critical it is for representatives to have a relationship with their citizens.”

Divisiveness ‘Discouraging’

Obermueller said he hopes whomever replaces him takes a traditional approach to their politics.

Some have accused the Wyoming Freedom Caucus of not espousing traditional Republicanism and contributing to an increasing divisiveness in the Legislature. It’s this divisiveness that Obermueller, who was the most recent chair of the House Republican Caucus, said is another one of the reasons he’s stepping down.

“It’s certainly discouraging,” he said.

Fox said he doesn’t align with either the Freedom Caucus or the opposing Wyoming Caucus and wants to help bridge compromise between the two.

“Let’s buckle down and instead of two separate camps in the Republican Party, let’s try to pull together a bit more and see what we can do for the good of the state,” he said.

Campbell said her main focus will be representing the voters of HD 56 and Wyoming, not either of these groups.

“The true Wyoming people matter most to me,” she said.

Obermueller told Cowboy State Daily he believes a traditional approach can be credited for creating the Wyoming we know today. He points to the state’s mineral severance tax as proof that private enterprise can’t solve all of the state’s problems.

“I sense that we’re all in this together to support the government we depend on,” he said. “Private sourcing isn’t the reality in this state.”

Leo Wolfson can be reached at

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Leo Wolfson

Politics and Government Reporter