Former Libertarian Runs As Republican To Win Back Wyoming House Seat

Marshall Burt, a Libertarian who was the first third-party candidate to be elected to the Wyoming Legislature in more than a century before being ousted from the House in 2022 is now running as a Republican to win back the seat.

Leo Wolfson

May 31, 20246 min read

Marshall Burt speaks during the 2022 session of the Wyoming Legislature.
Marshall Burt speaks during the 2022 session of the Wyoming Legislature. (Matt Idler for Cowboy State Daily)

Green River resident Marshall Burt has been riding an interesting political roller coaster the last few years.

Burt was the first third-party candidate (not including Independent candidates) to be elected to the Wyoming Legislature in more than a century when he was voted into the state House in 2020 as a Libertarian. He then lost his reelection bid by a large margin in 2022 to current state Rep. Cody Wylie, R-Rock Springs.

Earlier this week, Burt filed paperwork with the Secretary of State’s office to get his old seat back in the Legislature. But this time, he’s running against Wylie as a Republican.

Sound Familiar?

Over the last four years, Burt said a chasm has formed within the Libertarian Party unmatched by any other political party split. The divide has formed along the lines of disenfranchised supporters of former President Donald Trump and long-term Libertarian Party members.

The Libertarian Party has traditionally taken elements of both Republican and Democratic philosophies, but tends to be more closely aligned with Republican thought overall.

After Trump lost the 2020 election, Burt said many of the president’s supporters felt the GOP turned its back on them, so they started looking for a new party that would allow them to control the narrative, which led them to the Libertarian Party. He said this faction was eventually successful in taking over the party’s leadership.

Burt said this new group shifted away from longstanding party policies, causing rampant infighting in its wake. It was because of this divide he said the party lost ballot access in a number of states for the upcoming election.

In addition, during the party’s most recent national convention, a large number of states, including Wyoming, had their delegates unseated because of the differences in direction the two factions of the party felt it needed to go.

Burt was particularly offended that Trump and Robert Kennedy Jr., an Independent candidate, were both invited to the Libertarian convention, and spoke at it.

“If a party can't show 100% support for a candidate running for the highest office, where does that put every other race?” he questioned.

Burt believes the two-party machine in America has controlled the modern political landscape for far too long, assisted by the national media.

“Voters today are tired of the same two-party system and want something different,” he said. “Unfortunately, educating the public is a very time- and money-consuming endeavor.”

All of this has prompted Burt to leave the party and run for office this election as a Republican.

Burt isn’t the only person to change party affiliation for the upcoming election in Wyoming. There are a few former Democrats running as Republicans, including House District 44 candidate Lee Filer, who served in the Legislature as a Democrat from 2013-2015.


Catchphrases and labels are popular in modern politics, and what they represent can change over time. On the use of the descriptor “conservative,” Burt believes particular hypocrisy is being shown.

He mentioned how Rep. Tony Niemec, R-Green River, supported a 2% food tax and Sen. John Kolb, R-Rock Springs, threatened a personal income tax if an upcoming property tax initiative passes into law. He also believes some of the efforts of the Wyoming Freedom Caucus have been antithesis to the values of conservatism, liberty and freedom.

“You can't restrict the choice of personal freedoms and liberties of the individual to live their lives the way they feel is best for them and call yourself conservative,” Burt said. “At the end of the day, it is a cheap tagline used to pander to the general voting population in order to cheat them out of their vote.”

Not A Party Lackey

While he’s running as a Republican, Burt said he’s not enamored with the party’s representation in Wyoming as a whole. He mentioned how the GOP has almost at no time in state history had larger numbers than it does today, holding a super majority in the Legislature, the governor’s office and the four other statewide elected seats. Democrats on the other hand, only claim seven legislative seats.

“No one will ever convince me that the Democrat Party, with less than 10 members combined in both chambers, is passing tax increases and growing government,” he said.

During Burt’s two years in the Legislature, he sponsored and cosponsored about 40 bills, a number of which were also signed onto by both Democrats and Republicans. His biggest achievement came in 2022, when his bill extending legal motorcycle access to handicapped people passed into law without a single vote of opposition.

“As a political outsider in Wyoming politics, I was able to cut my own path and build solid, lasting friendships,” he said.

Burt stressed that if reelected, he’ll espouse the same beliefs he did while serving as a Libertarian.

He’s a staunch supporter of legalizing medical marijuana, limited government and spending. Burt wants the government to focus on funding emergency services and roads.

“Taking money from those and sending it to programs like the arts council or economic development board isn't where our taxes are supposed to be spent,” he said. “While there might be a good argument for economic development, a municipality isn't going to draw businesses in if the roads can't be plowed or an ambulance isn’t going to show up when 911 is called.”

Says Opponent Loves Big Government

He’s been disappointed with Wylie’s performance, mentioning how the legislator supported the largest budget in Wyoming history passed this year, which included a new $150 million high school for Rock Springs. He also expressed interest in a fuel tax.

“This guy has shown to love big government involvement in our lives, and doesn't care what it costs both in terms of fiscal or personal liberty,” Burt said.

Although Wylie is a member of the Wyoming Caucus that popped up to oppose the Wyoming Freedom Caucus, Burt is also no fan of that group.

“While they claim to have the best interest of Wyoming in mind when they vote, their primary focus is to push the national agenda,” he said. “This can be seen through legislation, where they will vote against every measure to fund anything in the state, but will then turn around and try to send millions to Texas for border security.”

If reelected, Burt wants to move the Wyoming Department of Transportation back to the general fund to have its budget more closely managed by the Legislature like most other state agencies.

He also believes property tax relief should be disbursed equally to all residents and wants less money put into savings to help with this effort.

Leo Wolfson can be reached at

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Leo Wolfson

Politics and Government Reporter