2024 Is Shaping Up To Be The Year Of The Newcomer For Wyoming Elections

The 2024 election season is setting up to be a historic one in Wyoming with many candidates already announcing they’re running for the Legislature — and most of them newcomers.

Leo Wolfson

April 27, 20246 min read

The 2024 primary election season is promising to shape up as a Republican battleground for control of the Wyoming House.
The 2024 primary election season is promising to shape up as a Republican battleground for control of the Wyoming House. (Matt Idler for Cowboy State Daily)

With 20 days to go before the candidate filing period officially opens, many people have already expressed their intentions to run for the Wyoming Legislature this election cycle. So far, that includes 25 newcomers who have officially declared their candidacy for the Wyoming House.

Of these candidates — all but one Republican — nine have announced their intention to run against members of the farther right Wyoming Freedom Caucus. Conversely, 10 people have officially announced they’re running for seats held by members of the more moderate Wyoming Caucus.

One of these new candidates is the son of a former governor in Cheyenne resident Rob Geringer. Geringer’s father Jim Geringer was governor from 1995-2003.

Geringer announced Wednesday he’s running for House District 42, a seat held by state Rep. Ben Hornok, R-Cheyenne, who’s aligned with the Freedom Caucus.

“We are clearly a conservative state that could set the tone for pushing back on federal infringement, yet some of our political leaders are too often focused on fighting amongst themselves over the details,” Geringer said in a press release. “I’m ready to step in and find the common ground on which we can stand to better our personal situations, fight against federal overreach and make Wyoming a place our kids can be proud to call home.”

Rep. Clark Stith, R-Rock Springs, one of the leading members of the Wyoming Caucus, and Rep. John Bear, R-Gillette, chairman of the Freedom Caucus, may not agree on much, but they both believe there are more candidates than usual announcing long before the official filing period opens.

“There seems to be more candidates declaring earlier than usual,” Stith said. “I’m not sure what’s driving that.”

In the Senate, four newcomers have announced they’re running for office. Only a handful of sitting members of both chambers have so far announced they’re running for reelection.

Although Rebekah Fitzgerald, one of the lead organizers of the Wyoming Caucus, said there is potential that there will be a Republican primary challenger in all 77 legislative races this season, which the Wyoming native has no recollection of ever happening before. There were 30 Republican primary races in 2022 that were unopposed.

“The voters should have a choice in every race,” she said.


It remains to be seen whether more candidates than normal will run this year, or if an average number of candidates are running earlier. More candidates, Stith said, is better for democracy.

“I’m really glad to see so many people running for office,” he said.

Fitzgerald said she’s talked to many candidates who said they were inspired to run because of the rampant infighting in the Legislature. Because of this, they’ve told her they don't want to join up with either her group or the Freedom Caucus. Fitzgerald is fine with that.

“I just want people running that are thoughtful and thinking for themselves,” she said. “We’re not trying to recruit folks into the caucus, per se.”

There has been a long-term trend of candidates announcing their political campaigns earlier and earlier in American elections.

Stith mentioned how he recently came across a Rock Springs Rocket Miner newspaper story from April 1986 discussing how no candidate had announced they were running for governor yet and the potential candidates. The eventual winner in that race, Democrat Mike Sullivan, was not named as a potential candidate.

Stith said he already has concerns about potential mudslinging in the 2024 election season, not between candidates, but from shadowy interest groups. This has already shown up with Honor Wyoming, a group that has criticized some Republican legislators as not being conservative enough and portraying them as rodeo clowns.

Bear and Stith said there are certain strategies behind when a candidate will announce. In 2022, former congresswoman Liz Cheney didn’t officially announce she was running until the last day of the filing period.

“Sometimes it can be good to stake a claim and fight off other competitors,” Stith said.

Recruitment Efforts

The candidate filing period opens May 16 and runs through May 31.

Both Fitzgerald and Bear said it’s their goal to find a candidate that aligns with their group’s views in every state House race. They also both said they expect to come close, but fall short on that goal.

Bear said it’s difficult to recruit candidates for the Legislature because of the time and financial commitments involved with the job and time away from family. For someone who doesn’t have much flexibility or control over their work schedule, or can’t afford to lose the income they might be making during the session, the commitment is unattainable. Bear said he mostly loses money as a result of his work at the Legislature.

“It’s difficult to find candidates to do this on either side, liberal or conservative, although there’s more conservatives in this state,” he said.

Campaigns themselves are another endeavor.

A recent Equality Policy Center study found that Wyoming elections have become more expensive to run over the last 14 years. In 2010, the average cost of the average state legislative race was $7,437. By 2022, that rose to $15,347.

“A lot of people are unable to give up income or reduce income so they can serve,” Bear said.

He also complained the Legislature has been run by “elites” for far too long, which he blames for the “purple” dynamic in the body. Although Republicans hold a super majority in both chambers, some Republicans like Bear have complained that many members of his party vote like Democrats.

“Things are changing on the ground,” he said.

Highlight Races

There are a handful of races that could hold some intrigue statewide.

  • On Thursday, Dubois resident Reg Phillips announced he’s running for House District 34 against Rep. Pepper Ottman, R-Riverton, another Freedom Caucus-aligned member.

  • The Cheyenne contingency of Anne Lucas, Steve Johnson and Gary Brown will attempt to turn the capital city more conservative in their bids against Republican Reps. Dan Zwomintzier, Dave Zwonizter, and Bill Henderson.

  • Former Campbell County Hospital Board member George Dunlap recently announced he will run against Rep. Ken Clouston, R-Gillette, a Wyoming Caucus-aligned member.

  • The race between Cody Mayor Matt Hall and Wyoming GOP National Committeewoman Nina Webber will be another one to watch because of the name recognition each candidate holds.

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

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Leo Wolfson

Politics and Government Reporter