Challengers Line Up To Test Wyoming Senate Firebrand Anthony Bouchard

Two Republican candidates have announced campaigns to challenge Wyoming Senate firebrand Anthony Bouchard in the upcoming election. Both claim Bouchard doesn't adequately represent their constituencies.

Leo Wolfson

April 30, 20249 min read

Mark Torriani, left, and Eric Johnston are both running for Anthony Bouchard's state Senate seat.
Mark Torriani, left, and Eric Johnston are both running for Anthony Bouchard's state Senate seat. (Courtesy Photos)

Candid conservative firebrand state Sen. Anthony Bouchard, R-Cheyenne, will have some Republican challengers in the upcoming election if he chooses to run for a third term.

During his seven years in office, Bouchard has built a reputation as one of the most outspoken members of the Wyoming Legislature, often chastised by leadership and members of the general public for his comments.

During the 2024 legislative session, Bouchard passed his first bill into law, legislation that prohibits Wyoming medical practitioners from performing transgender surgeries and treatments on minors. Bouchard has made bills addressing LGBTQ issues a cornerstone of his political focus.

Pine Bluffs resident Marc Torriani is running for Bouchard’s Senate District 6 seat in the primary. Although he said Bouchard’s voting record has been conservative, Torriani doesn't believe the senator is effectively representing the rural interests of his district, which stretches from east Cheyenne to northern Platte County. He wants to give a voice to this demographic.

“People are pretty much fed up with the lack of true representation,” he said. “They want someone who’s going to work on their behalf, not only in representation, but when the Legislature is out of session on improving their daily lives.”

Torriani also said all ranchers do "know the difference between a bull and a heifer” in reference to Bouchard’s focus on LGBTQ issues.

“He essentially takes his issues from all the talking heads on the national news channels, and he’s not really working toward any of the issues that affect the day-to-day lives in our own communities,” Torriani said. “I think I’m well-positioned to do that as a rancher.”

Wheatland resident Eric Johnston is a former Platte County commissioner who’s also running for SD 6. Johnston is less pointed than Torriani in his criticism of Bouchard, but said he’s bothered that the incumbent has never met with his county’s commission about legislation.

“That’s not representative government to me,” Johnston said. “At least give the courtesy of meeting with the commissioners.”

The jury is still out whether Bouchard will run for reelection or not as he hasn’t responded to multiple requests from Cowboy State Daily about his campaign status.

Who’s Torriani?

Torriani moved to Wyoming about five years ago from Colorado. He considers himself a political refugee who escaped the left-leaning demographics of the Centennial State for the more conservative Wyoming, much like many of his neighbors.

Torriani worries that similar changes could happen in Wyoming if not prevented and wants to keep Wyoming the way it is.

He runs a cow/calf operation at his ranch near the Colorado and Nebraska borders and is now semi-retired after an international career in telecom services.

“We’re conservative by nature,” he said. “I’ve come to that position after years of working overseas and observing politics in the United States.”

As a rancher, Torriani said he deeply understands the issues people in his industry face everyday and believes rural issues as a whole are being ignored in Cheyenne. He said there has been a continuing trend of taking on projects for Cheyenne that will drain irrigation sources to a harmful extent for the surrounding area that depends on it for its drinking water and farming support.

“There’s got to be a greater focus on ensuring the future of the existing population … access to that water,” he said. “It can’t be drained away for projects that are going to provide few economic benefits, few jobs to Wyoming at the expense of the other population and constituencies.”

He also prides himself on not being a political insider, a trait he ascribes to Bouchard and Johnston.

“I’m not a political insider and I’m not a politician, and I don’t think that’s what people want either,” he said. “They’re tired of political insiders, they’re tired of folks who are pursuing things either for their own ego or their desire to climb up the political ladder. That’s definitely not my motivation.”

He wants to cap government spending and reduce property taxes for Wyoming’s middle class, seniors, veterans, farmers and ranchers, and is open to eliminating all property taxes for the agriculture producers.

“Given the financial issues farmers and ranchers continuously face,” Torriani explained.

He’s pro-life on abortion and also supports banning the teaching of critical race theory, diversity, equity and inclusion, and gender/sexuality themes in Wyoming schools.

Torriani wants Wyoming to focus on its legacy industries instead of pursuing alternative green energies like wind, new subdivision construction and the building of large data centers.

Who’s Johnston?

Johnston is a farmer and Wyoming native who’s lived in the state continuously since 1996.

He served as a Platte County commissioner from 2015-2018, stepping down to focus more on his farm. Now, he said he feels a pull to get back into politics based on the issues Wyoming is facing.

“I just wanted to give District 6 another option,” he said. “Competition is good.

“If you like representation from Cheyenne, that’s fine. If you don’t, here’s another option for you.”

Johnston said he looks at his political experience as an advantage, not baggage as Torriani claims. His past negotiating experience in his professional career and time as a commissioner, Johnston believes, could be a benefit to his district.

“If you don’t know how something works, when it doesn’t go the way it’s supposed to, you have no idea where to even look,” Johnston said. “I think that if elected, I would be able to get in there and get to work a little bit quicker.”

He also wants to study and address rising property taxes more, which he believes have been significantly impacted by inflation. Johnston doesn’t support getting rid of property taxes altogether and prefers a local control approach rather than a “one-size-fits-all” directive for the whole state.

“Platte County is not Teton County, Niobrara is not Sweetwater,” he said. “If Teton County is spending a whole bunch of money on something they want to, fine. It’s their choice. If they're putting money out to an alphabet organization, the people in Senate District 6 probably don’t want to fund an alphabet organization.”

He opposes legislation proposed by Rep. Steve Harshman, R-Casper, during the 2024 session that would have reduced property taxes for most Wyoming residents while increasing the state’s sales tax rate. Johnston said this would shift the tax burden on younger residents who don’t own homes and make it extremely difficult for local governments to project their year-to-year revenues.

He also said its passage would make it unlikely that any additional special purpose tax initiatives could be passed by local cities and counties, which have gone to fund a variety of public infrastructure projects around the state.

“I suspect that would be the last time you get a specific purpose tax tacked on,” Johnston said. “That source of funding for Platte County has been just amazing.”

Johnston said he’s open to renewable energies, but finds that Wyoming must place a bigger focus on its legacy industries like coal moving forward. A former oil and gas employee, Johnston believes federal government regulation has significantly hampered fossil fuel industries for the purpose of fighting climate change, which he’s not concerned about.

“I’d put no roadblocks up from the state,” he said.

Let The Mudslinging Begin

In the event Bouchard does run for reelection, Torriani and Johnston are nearly guaranteed a vocal race, as Bouchard is known to speak his mind, often not pulling punches on his social media pages.

“After 25 years abroad, working in countries next to and in war zones, there’s not a lot that I haven’t seen or dealt with,” Torriani said. “If he wants to sling mud, that’s only a reflection on him and his campaign.”

Torriani said he already received a call from a Bouchard supporter who screamed at him over the phone. By the end of the call, he said the man admitted there wasn’t much on Torriani’s record to go after.

Johnston said he’s not interested in slinging any mud, and compared his campaign to giving the voters a choice between a Ford, Chevy or Dodge truck.

“Not everyone likes to drive a Ford pickup,” he said. “When you have a Chevy or Ram available for you as a choice, you get to pick the pickup that you really like.”

Redistricting in 2022 could also play a major factor in the race. Previously, SD 6 made up a similar section of the Cheyenne area but bumped up to southern Goshen County and parts of Torrington. Now, the district includes Platte County as far north as Glendo, with Goshen no longer represented.

In the 2022 election, Bouchard beat his Democratic opponent by more than 3,000 votes after knocking off Erin Johnson in a tight race in the primary. In 2016, he faced tight races in both the primary and general elections.

Leo Wolfson can be reached at

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Leo Wolfson

Politics and Government Reporter