2 More In Race For Anthony Bouchard’s State Senate Seat

Two more Republicans have entered an increasingly crowded GOP primary in an attempt to take the Wyoming state Senate seat held by two-time incumbent Anthony Bouchard, who hasn’t said if he’s running again. If he does, he’ll have at least four opponents.

Leo Wolfson

May 15, 20248 min read

Taft Love and Kim Withers 5 15 24
(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

The Republican primary race for Wyoming Senate District 6 in rural Laramie and Platte counties is becoming increasingly crowded.

This seat is held by conservative firebrand state Sen. Anthony Bouchard, R-Cheyenne. Bouchard has not responded to numerous requests about whether he’s running for reelection for a third term, and none of his potential opponents say they know whether he’ll run or not either.

On Tuesday, Cheyenne resident Taft Love, chairman of the Laramie County Republican Party, announced he’s running in the race that already has three other candidates aside from Bouchard.

Love may have the best name recognition of the challengers as chairman of the Laramie GOP and a prior member of the Laramie County School District No. 2 board for 10 years.

Also announcing her candidacy late last month was Cheyenne resident Kim Withers, who served as CEO of Meridian Trust Federal Credit Union for 32 years. Withers believes rural southeast Wyoming has been overlooked in the Legislature for too long.

“I know how to actually take action on issues and really focus on stuff that is important for the people,” she said.

Who’s Love?

Love said he’s been planning to run for the Legislature for the past two years.

A University of Wyoming graduate, Love started his career with Wyoming Game and Fish, where he worked in field resource management. He later transitioned to a role in the Wyoming Division of Tourism.

Love eventually left state government and started his own outdoor recreation company, ranch operation and construction business with his wife. He became chairman of the Laramie GOP in 2023.

When Love took over as chairman, the county party’s relationship with the state party was deeply strained over various issues that led to most of Laramie County’s delegates being revoked at the 2022 state GOP convention.

Love and his leadership team have since mended that relationship, paying up owed dues and awarded the bid to host the 2024 state convention that was held in April. It’s this type of experience he gained patching up a divide in the Republican Party that Love said he would bring to the Legislature if elected.

“People are looking for something that’s very conservative but also has the ability to work inside of difficult situations without annoying or turning off constituents and other individuals that you have to be able to work with even if you disagree with,” he said.

Controversial Books And Taxes

The topic of controversial books in school libraries has been a high-profile issue in Wyoming.

While serving on the LCSD2 board, Love, who served as chairman, said they were tasked with deciding whether to remove one of these books long before it became a state and national talking point. His board ended up removing the book from school libraries and district curriculum for what he said was a promotion of the act of suicide.

As a result, the district started more closely vetting the new books put on its shelves.

“If parents want their children to have access to that, that is by all means their right, and they can take them to the public library and they can expose them to whatever information they feel necessary,” he said. “Us as a public institution, I think need to safeguard our children and allow parents to make those decisions.”

Love said more property tax reform is needed in Wyoming. He supports a ballot initiative campaign campaign that, if passed, would allow homeowners in Wyoming to have their entire property taxed at 50% of its assessed value. He also wants people to be cautious about cutting property taxes too much when considering that Wyoming has some of the lowest property taxes in the Rocky Mountain region and the long-term decline in fossil fuel revenue.

“We have to be cautious about starving our state for funding as well,” he said.

On energy, Love wants to support Wyoming’s legacy fossil fuel industries as well as new alternative energies such as carbon capture.

“I think there’s a good workable future in both sectors in the state of Wyoming,” he said.

If elected, Love said he would likely step down from his role as chairman of the Laramie GOP.

Love admitted he’s a little nervous about so many candidates being in the SD 6 race that it could split votes between candidates in an unpredictable manner, but feels confident about his chances.

“We’ll go out and do what’s right, and I think we know that always wins,” he said.

Who’s Withers?

Withers has lived in Wyoming for more than 40 years and has more than 35 years of experience working for financial cooperatives.

“I firmly believe in the financial cooperative,” she said.

Withers has also served on several boards, including the Cheyenne Laramie County Joint Economic Powers Board, the Federal Reserve Community Depository Institution Advisory Council and the Laramie County Friday Food Bag.

But Withers, who considers herself a true conservative, doesn’t count herself as a political insider. She sees herself as a mother and grandmother first.

“I really want to focus on what’s right for Wyoming with my message and my campaign,” she said. “I want to be laser-focused on our economy and education, and of course keeping Wyoming safe.”

If elected, Withers said she wants to keep exploring property tax reform and putting more tax caps in place. During the 2024 session, Gov. Mark Gordon signed legislation instructing a 4% cap on year-to-year increases.

“I feel we should be able to do more,” Withers said.

Withers also wants to limit government regulation and spending, along with inflation.

On energy, she, like Love, believes Wyoming should support traditional fossil fuels and green energy.

“We are an energy state, so we need to be mindful of what is coming up and not limit it or constrain it, but allow all of the factions to do well,” she said.

Withers also believes the University of Wyoming made the right decision by cutting its Diversity, Equity and Inclusion office last week after the Legislature cut state money for the program this spring.

“It’s important that the focus is on education and it’s on the merit of the students there,” she said. “That’s what our students are paying for, to get a quality education.”

Thoughts On Bouchard

Both Love and Withers believe SD 6 isn’t being effectively represented by Bouchard, who’s staked a claim going after many hot-button culture issues. During the most recent session he passed his first bill into law, legislation that prohibits Wyoming medical practitioners from offering transgender surgeries and treatments to minors.

Withers said there needs to be more of a focus put on “table-top issues” and representing southeast Wyoming specifically and mentioned how national talking points took on a heightened role during the 2024 budget session. The actual budget wasn’t passed until the last day of the session, making it impossible for the Legislature to override Gordon’s vetoes.

“It seemed like we played to some of the national issues as opposed to what was happening in our region,” she said.

Love said he agrees with most of Bouchard’s voting record, but doesn’t agree with the sometimes aggressive tactics the senator uses to legislate and communicate on social media. It was some of this behavior that got him kicked off his committee assignments during the 2023 interim session.

“It’s the manner he’s gone about it that made me think maybe it’s a good idea to run,” Love said.

Although Love admits Bouchard’s behavior is great material for news headlines, it’s not so ideal for legislating and trying to get help from other legislators in passing legislation.

“There’s a thought process that maybe we need to be able to communicate a little bit better inside of our Legislature so that we have good positioning in committee assignments and still be effective in our voting record,” Love said. “We can have a more positive impact on what’s being presented in the Legislature and to the people of Wyoming.”

Some of the other candidates in the SD 6 race, Marc Torriani and Eric Johnston, criticized Bouchard as failing to represent agriculture interests. This isn’t entirely accurate as Bouchard brought a bill in 2023 seeking to protect farmers from real estate growth. He also previously served on the Senate Agriculture Committee from 2019-2022.

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

Share this article



Leo Wolfson

Politics and Government Reporter