Fremont County Pro-Life Champion Has Challenger For Republican Primary

Pro-life champion and three-time incumbent state Sen. Tim Salazar has a Republican primary opponent in Shoshoni rancher Elizabeth Philp.

Leo Wolfson

May 24, 20246 min read

State Sen. Tim Salazar, R-Riverton, left, and Elizabeth Philp.
State Sen. Tim Salazar, R-Riverton, left, and Elizabeth Philp. (Cowboy State Daily Staff)

One of the most prominent pro-life members of the Wyoming Legislature will have to beat out a primary challenger if he wants to be reelected.

This August, state Sen. Tim Salazar, R-Riverton, will run for reelection to Senate District 26 for a fourth term in office. Salazar was first elected to the Wyoming House in 2016 and then moved over to the Senate in 2020.

SD 26 makes up most of Riverton and a significant portion of the Wind River Reservation in central Fremont County.

Shoshoni resident Elizabeth Philp has also announced she’s running for the seat in the Republican primary. Philp’s brother Frank Philp served in the Legislature from 1993-2010 and was speaker pro tempore from 2009-2010.

Salazar said the opportunity to serve and help people is what’s driving him to run for reelection.

“Whether it’s a state agency that a constituent believes is treating them unfairly or a citizen not being given the services they need, or perhaps the belief by a citizen that an injustice needs to be corrected,” Salazar told Cowboy State Daily. “Being a legislator to solve those problems for those I work for and finding a successful solution is satisfying.”

Who’s Salazar?

Before entering the Legislature, Salazar served 26 years as an Army officer.

He is one of the more conservative members of the Wyoming Senate, taking a firm pro-life stance on abortion and opposing most instances of government spending increases. He did, however, support $2.5 million for the building of a new recreation center in Riverton during the latest legislative session, which ended up being vetoed by Gov. Mark Gordon.

“I have tried during my time in the Legislature to never vote for tax increases,” Salazar said. “As a constitutional conservative, I believe all government must work for the people, not people working to satisfy government’s growing appetite.”

One of Salazar’s biggest achievements was passing Senate Enrolled Act 93 into law in 2023, legislation that bans the prescription of drugs for abortions in Wyoming. This law is being challenged in the Wyoming Supreme Court and has been put on pause during the meantime.

He also passed legislation in 2023 expanding the state’s Food Freedom Act to allow dairy farmers to sell milk through a third party, including local foods stores.

Salazar’s Wyoming PRIME Act, which would have gone into effect if a similar proposed federal law exempting animals and meats from federal inspection requirements passes into law, was approved by the Legislature this year. Gordon vetoed the bill shortly after. Salazar said he plans to bring back that legislation in 2025 if reelected.

Other Priorities

He’s also a firm Second Amendment supporter and in 2018 passed a stand-your-ground bill into law.

Salazar wants to continue to work on property tax reform if reelected. During the 2024 session, he proposed legislation that would have provided 25% relief off home values up to $2 million.

Salazar believes over-regulation is rampant and the federal government is “broken.”

“Citizens are looking to their state legislatures to help solve the problems from the Biden administration on inflation, crippling energy and land use dictates, and the slow erosion of constitutional rights,” he said.

But a sharp divide came on full display in the Senate during the 2024 session, with legislators struggling to strike a compromise on the final budget. Even though as a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee he helped craft the proposed budget during a months-long process, Salazar ended up voting against many aspects of the version that came out of his committee.

Salazar stressed that vigorous debate is a part of all governments, but said he always tries to treat others how he would want to be treated.

He didn’t have much to say about Philp other than her voting record is unknown.

Who’s Philp?

Philp is a third-generation Wyoming rancher living outside Shoshoni on the west side of the reservation.

Her family has a deep connection to Fremont County history as her father also served in politics as a county commissioner. She is the Fremont County Republican Party State Committeewoman.

Philp said she wants to bring more civility to the Legislature, but isn’t afraid to vote her conscience. Over the last few years, a clear divide has arisen between the farther right and more moderate factions of the Republican Party, with Salazer belonging to the former.

“I will work toward civility because we have a lot to be proud of here,” she said. “I will consider all sides and be careful when and where to speak up.”

The Wyoming Freedom Caucus, a group of farther right legislators in the House, has been blamed by many for causing the divide for its outspoken criticism of many Republican leaders, who its members believe aren’t voting conservatively enough. Philp said she won’t seek the endorsement of this group, but did not answer whether she’ll seek the endorsement of the Wyoming Caucus, another Republican group that has formed to oppose the Freedom Caucus.

Energy, along with agriculture and tourism, are all industries Philp believes need to be protected by the Legislature.

Philp said she wants to protect Wyoming’s legacy energy industries, but also believes wind energy and carbon capture are worth exploring. She believes coal can continue to provide Wyoming significant baseline power production for the foreseeable future, but she has concerns about other forces pushing it out.

She also mentioned how some of the technology behind carbon capture has been used in the oil fields for 40 years.

“We have to have carbon capture to protect oil, natural gas and coal industries that pay about half of our taxes,” she said.

The Race

Salazar hasn’t had a particularly competitive primary race since first elected in 2016.

SD 26 was previously represented by longtime legislator and former Senate President and House Speaker Eli Bebout.

Salazar had no Democratic opponent in 2020, and none have signed up yet for the upcoming election.

Leo Wolfson can be reached at

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Leo Wolfson

Politics and Government Reporter