Wyoming Caucus Leader Barry Crago Announces Run For State Senate

Rep. Barry Crago, one of the leaders in the Wyoming Caucus faction of the state House and vocal challenger of the Freedom Caucus, announced Wednesday he’s running for the state Senate.

Leo Wolfson

May 01, 20245 min read

State Rep. Barry Crago, R-Buffalo
State Rep. Barry Crago, R-Buffalo (Matt Idler for Cowboy State Daily)

State Rep. Barry Crago, R-Buffalo, said he had no intentions of running for the Wyoming Senate initially. But after learning in April that his senator Dave Kinskey, R-Sheridan, was not going to run for reelection to a third term, Crago said that all started to change.

On Wednesday, Crago announced that he’s going to run for Kinskey’s Senate District 22 seat this fall instead of seeking reelection to a third term in the House.

“Ultimately, I decided it would probably be a good opportunity,” he told Cowboy State Daily shortly after making his announcement. “I would have a bigger voice in policy debate by virtue of there being 31 senators instead of the House with 62 reps.”

Crago is the second leading member of the Wyoming Caucus, a group of Republican legislators opposed to the farther right Wyoming Freedom Caucus, to announce he’s not running for reelection in the House since the 2024 legislative session ended. Fellow Wyoming Caucus leader Rep. Cyrus Western, R-Big Horn, announced in March he’s not running for reelection.

In addition, House Speaker Albert Sommers, R-Pinedale has said he’s considering making a move to the Senate and not running for the House again, and Rep. Jared Olsen, R-Cheyenne, has confirmed he’s running for the Senate.

Crago said his presence is not needed in the House for the chamber to pass what he sees as successful legislation.

“The reason being there is a good number of House members who can get things done whether I’m there or not,” he said.

What’s He Done?

One of Crago’s most significant achievements from the 2024 session was the passing House Enrolled Act 54 into law, legislation that immediately puts a 4% cap on year-to-year property tax increases in Wyoming.

He also co-sponsored legislation in 2022 ensuring companies contribute equitably to Wyoming’s tax base through ad valorem taxes.

Crago also fought vigorously for the construction of a new veterans’ home in Buffalo during this year’s budget session. The $69 million for this project was slashed at one of the last stages in the budget process.

“That was one of the casualties of the Joint Conference Committee,” he said.

In a Wednesday press release, Crago said Wyoming must remain focused on the issues that affect the state most, such as keeping its economy robust, ensuring children will have a bright future, and pushing back on the policies passed in Washington, D.C.

"Wyoming must push back on D.C. power grabs like the recent Biden Conservation Rule,” he said. “Policies like this are undermining our legacy industries, especially oil and gas.”

Crago said he takes pride in helping shape bills throughout the legislative process. He often brings amendments to bills, whether he supports them or not, as part of this effort.

“One of my other abilities is to help other legislators as they work on their legislation,” he said. “I try to make every piece of legislation better. I’m proud to help.”

The District

Senate District 22 has traditionally had more representation from Johnson County lawmakers, represented by the late John Schiffer of Kaycee from 1993-2014. Although the district covers east Sheridan, it also encompasses all of Buffalo and Kaycee into southern Johnson County.

Crago doesn’t believe having a Johnson County senator should be a requirement for his district and intends to represent the Sheridan part of his county just as much.

“I don’t know if it means anything,” he said. “Whoever represents the district has to spend equal time in both counties.”

If elected, Crago said he will plan to follow in Kinskey’s footsteps by spending time listening to the constituents of his district. Crago said he worked with Kinskey on many local issues during their four years in office together.

“We both know the importance of representing our constituents,” he said.

Politically, Crago is somewhat more moderate than Kinskey, who drifted to the right during the most recent legislative session.

It is unknown if other candidates are planning to run in the Republican primary for SD 22. Rep. Mark Jennings, R-Sheridan, has been rumored to be considering doing so, but has not said whether or not he plans to.

A few hours after Crago made his announcement, former Johnson County commissioner Marilyn Connolly announced she’ll run for his House seat in the Republican primary.

“As a longtime Republican and longtime member of the community, I understand the necessity of strong conservative policymaking to address the needs of Wyoming,” Connolly said in a press release. “My years of service as county commissioner, along with local and state boards, have taught me the value of fiscal responsibility and the importance of developing proactive policies.”

Connolly will face off against Second Amendment lobbyist Mark Jones.

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

Share this article



Leo Wolfson

Politics and Government Reporter