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13 Votes Separate Candidates In Eastern Wyoming Race; Only Election To Get Recount

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By Leo Wolfson, political reporter
Leo@CowboyStateDaily.com

Thirteen votes were all that separated State Rep. JD Williams, R-Lusk, and challenger Allen Slagle in their Republican primary race for the State House Tuesday night, with Slagle pulling out a narrow, 13-vote victory. 

The election was so close in House District 2 that under Wyoming law, a recount of the 3,624 votes cast in this race must occur. State law designates that a recount shall occur when a candidate wins a race by 1% of the vote or less. Slagle, a Newcastle resident, won this race by 0.4% of the vote. 

“It’s only the closest races that the law would trigger,” said Monique Meese, a communications officer with the Wyoming Secretary of State’s office.  

Meese said her staff was busy recounting the ballots cast in the race as of Wednesday afternoon. She said there were no other state races that fell within a 1% margin between the winning candidate and their next closest competitor. 

Williams said he doesn’t care much about the recount and would not have requested one if it wasn’t mandatory under state law. He said he doesn’t expect the 13 votes separating him and Slagle to change. 

“I’ve worked with our county clerks in Weston, Niobrara and Goshen counties and have full confidence in our state’s elections,” he said. 

Becky Hadlock, Weston County clerk, said she expects the results to return by the end of the day Wednesday. She said her staff have performed recounts for county commissioner elections in the past. 

A recount can also be requested by any candidate as long as they provide an affidavit signed by 25 electors from their district and pay all costs of the recount. These costs will be reimbursed to the applicant if the recount changes the election outcome. 

Candidates have until Aug. 26 to request a recount of their state-level election. Those running in county and city-level elections have until two days after their county canvass board certifies the results of their elections.  

If Slagle’s win stands after the recount, he will advance to the general election where there is no Democratic challenger running. 

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Red Wave Targets Incumbent Legislators In Wyoming Primary — Many Get Capsized

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By Leo Wolfson, political reporter
Leo@CowboyStateDaily.com

Many incumbent Wyoming legislators had a target on their back in this year’s primary election, advancing to the general election, in some cases, only by the skin of their teeth, if at all. 

State Rep. Dan Zwonitzer, R-Cheyenne, said he saw it as a down-ballot, “red wave” effect, with many voters taking a lead from U.S. House candidate Harriet Hageman’s campaign, which has promoted the idea that people need to vote for particularly conservative candidates to “save Wyoming.” 

Nearly every Republican race around the state featured a very conservative candidate. 

“They’re promoting this idea that Wyoming is on the cusp of being a liberal utopia, which is certainly not the case,” Zwonitzer told Cowboy State Daily. “Wyoming is the most conservative state in the nation with the least gun control. The majority of people are proud of being right of center.” 

State Rep. Cyrus Western, R-Big Horn, had one of the closest elections of the night, winning by 137 votes. He said he takes all his races and opponents seriously and was poised for a potentially close race. 

Western will now advance to the general election in his bid for a third term. He is one of a number of legislators labeled as a RINO – ‘Republican In Name Only’ – by political rating website Wyorino.com, a designation given to lawmakers perceived to be not conservative enough by a group who have not disclosed their identity.  

“Really, it’s a catch-call phrase for people they don’t like,” Western said. “These are silly names made by anonymous individuals.” 

He defended his voting record to Cowboy State Daily on Wednesday afternoon, describing himself as staunchly pro-Second Amendment, pro-life and supportive of low taxes. 

The website relies on elected officials’ votes on 10 bills to judge whether legislators are “real” Republicans and vote with “conservative” values. 

“This methodology wouldn’t pass a freshman political science class,” Zwonitzer said. 

All 15 Republican incumbents labeled as “RINOs” by Wyorino.com lost their elections or won by less than 500 votes. Twenty-three candidates overcame this designation to win their elections, while eight did not.

A number of candidates around the state promoted their 100% rating with the site as part of their campaign, like Clarence Styvar, who won the Republican nomination for House District 12, and Rep. Bill Fortner, R-Gillette, who lost his campaign for Senate District 1. 

Close Calls 

The closest election of the night was in House District 2, where challenger Allen Slagle beat Rep. JD Williams, R-Lusk, by 13 votes. Williams described Slagle as “a great guy” and said the two competitors engaged in a very clean campaign. A recount of this election began on Wednesday afternoon.  

Williams, a Niobrara County resident, attributed his loss to Weston County voters showing a preference for electing an official from their own county. He lost Weston County by 110 votes. 

Williams had been appointed by his local county commissioners to fill the vacant seat left by former Rep. Hans Hunt, who resigned in October 2021. He said he is not a politician and not concerned with Republican Party politics or equating serving in politics to serving God. 

“People get their politics and religion mixed up,” Williams said. “I have a little different mindset.” 

A handful of other incumbents lost, such as Sens. Drew Perkins, R-Casper, R.J. Kost, R-Powell, and Reps. Pat Sweeney, R-Casper, Joe MacGuire, R-Casper, Aaron Clausen, R-Douglas, Shelly Duncan, R-Lingle, John Romero-Martinez, R-Cheyenne.  

Zwonitzer said he considers some of these legislators like Perkins, to be standard, middle of the party spectrum Republicans. He and others were particularly surprised that the second-term senator, Perkins, lost his primary to Bob Ide. Perkins lost by 302 votes, about a 5% margin. 

Zwonitzer said legislative redistricting played a role in these elections as well, making incumbents relatively unknown figures to many people in their newly formed districts. 

“That had a huge bearing on the outcome,” he said.  

Rep. Sandy Newsome, R-Cody, edged out challenger Nina Webber by 83 votes, the closest win by any incumbent. This race was a rematch of the 2020 election. Both races have featured significant mudslinging between the candidates. 

“It was just a tough race,” Newsome said, adding she was pleased with the outcome. 

Webber repeatedly characterized Newsome as not adhering to the Republican Party platform during the campaign. 

Newsome said she was going to spend Wednesday out of the house, giving herself a “much deserved” break from the campaign action. 

Sen. Ogden Driskill, R-Devils Tower, won his primary bid for a fourth term, but not before sweating it out against two challengers with their own political standing. It was not until the last precincts were called from Campbell County that Driskill pulled out his 137-vote win over second place challenger Roger Connett, chair of the Crook County Republican Party. 

“I can’t tell you how lucky I feel that I am able to fulfill my last term,” Driskill said. 

Fortner and Connett accused Driskill of not being conservative enough. 

“I can darn sure tell you (Driskill) he’s a RINO,” Fortner said in a prior interview with Cowboy State Daily. “He represents himself more than constituents.” 

Driskill also had a close race in 2014, only beating primary challenger Judy McCullough by 54 votes in that election. 

Driskill said he plans to run for Senate President this year.  

Rep. Steve Harshman, R-Casper, had a close race as well, beating challenger Steve Bray by 202 votes.  

In Fremont County, Sen. Cale Case, R-Lander, won by 482 votes over challenger Shawn Olmstead. Case is the second longest serving member of the Wyoming Legislature, first elected in 1998. 

Rep. Bob Nicholas, R-Cheyenne was given a 0% rating from Wyorino, the lowest possible score on their scale. He won his election over Rick Coppinger by 364 votes. 

Outside Influence 

Zwonitzer had a close race as well, winning his race over Clayton Mills by 171 votes. He said Mills and many other candidates like State Senate candidate Evie Brennan, canvassed alongside Hageman staff, forging a connection in voter’s minds between the state and federal campaigns, and a perceived shared ideology. 

“They’re telling people you have to vote for us to save Wyoming, they’re playing on people’s fears,” Zwonitzer said. 

Zwonitzer said he found constituents much more interested in his position on Hageman’s race against U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney than more locally focused issues such as education, gas and wildlife.  

“To say all politics is local, that long-standing truth didn’t hold,” he said. 

Zwonitzer has served in the House since 2005.  He is chairman of the House Corporations, Elections and Political Subdivisions Committee. He said he wasn’t worried about his chances in the primary until the last week of the campaign. Zwonitzer is a Cheney supporter and along with a handful of other candidates statewide, received money from her political action committee for campaign efforts. 

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Wyoming Hunting Forecast: Elk Exceptional This Fall; Deer, Antelope Should Be Good Too

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By Mark Heinz, public lands and wildlife reporter
Mark@CowboyStateDaily.com

Elk should remain the state’s top species of opportunity for Wyoming big game hunters going into this year’s hunting season, according to a forecast released this week by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. 

Mule deer hunting opportunities will continue to be mixed, while antelope in some regions are still recovering from the effects of drought, although hunting should still be great in most areas, according to the report. 

Elk 

Elk herd numbers are good and hunting opportunities abound across all eight of the Game and Fish’s hunting regions across Wyoming, according to the agency’s 2022 hunting season forecast, which was released Monday. https://wgfd.wyo.gov/News/Hunters-2022-Wyomng-hunt-forecast-available 

Those regions are respectively centered in Jackson, Cody, Sheridan, Green River, Laramie, Lander, Casper and Pinedale. 

Elk herds remain at least “near” Game and Fish management objective numbers in all regions, and some herds are exceeding those numbers in the Cody, Casper and Laramie regions. 

In the Laramie region, there could be exceptional opportunity for elk hunting in the aftermath of the 2020 Mullen Fire – which burned more than 176,000 acres about 28 miles west of Laramie. Plants sprouting up in the old burn areas attract elk, according to the report. 

“Hunters are encouraged to hunt south of Wyoming Highway 130 in the Snowy Range to take advantage of elk utilizing the burn scar where these vegetation improvements occurred,” the report said. 

Cow/calf licenses and hunting opportunities are plentiful in the Sheridan region. Any-elk tags were harder to draw, but “those lucky enough to draw have a reasonable chance at harvesting a mature bull,” the report said. 

On the west side of the Bighorn Mountains in the Cody region, elk hunt areas 41 and 45 remain ripe with good chances for success, with the Medicine Lodge herd in particular being “chronically above its population management objective.” 

Mule Deer 

Mule deer herds across the West have long been in decline because of a variety of factors.   Some reasons include development encroaching on the animals’ habitat and migration routes, disease and competition with other species. 

“Mule deer are sensitive to a variety of factors and continue to take it on chin,” avid hunter Josh Coursey, who lives near Kemmerer, told Cowboy State Daily in a recent interview. He is the founder, president and CEO of Muley Fanatics, a mule deer advocacy and conservation group.  

Weather has also come into play against mule deer, according to the Game and Fish. For example, harsh winters have hampered mule deer herd recovery in the Sublette and Wyoming Range areas of the Jackson region. The Game and Fish’s management strategy there has been geared toward producing more mature bucks, thereby giving tenacious hunters better chances of making “trophy-class” kills, according to the report. 

Likewise, licenses for antlerless mule deer will remain limited in the Sheridan region, where the hunting regulations were altered to no longer allow killing mule deer does on private lands in some hunt areas. 

Drought and an uptick in chronic wasting disease (CWD) have continued to hurt mule deer in the Cody region, although hunting conditions there should be “slightly improved” compared to 2021, the report said. 

CWD among mule deer was cited as a factor in other hunting regions. It’s a fatally degenerative nervous system and brain disease that has long infected mule deer, as well as some elk herds, in Wyoming and the West. Although there are no known cases of transmission to humans, the Centers for Disease Control and the Game and Fish recommend against eating meat from an infected animal. The Game and Fish provides free CWD testing of samples taken from hunters’ kills. CWD sample submission is mandatory in some deer hunt areas, such as areas 59, 60 and 64 in the Laramie region. 

Antelope 

Pronghorn, commonly called antelope, remain an iconic Wyoming species. Although record-smashing trophy bucks aren’t as common as they might be among some antelope herds farther to the south, Wyoming is known for its abundance of opportunity to hunt the speedy animals across vast plains and badlands. 

New this year, hunters who hold tags for hunt area 85 in the Jackson region may pursue antelope on the National Elk Refuge. Antelope in the Jackson region are a migratory segment of the Sublette herd, which remains somewhat below the Game and Fish’s desired numbers, along with some other herds in the state. 

Drought in some areas was been cited as one reason for lagging antelope numbers, but Game and Fish still predicts plenty of opportunity and ample hunter success across Wyoming. 

In the Green River region, a mild winter should have allowed antelope to bounce back. A mild and wet early summer should have also prompted better horn growth in bucks there. 

Antelope numbers can vary within regions, the Game and Fish said. The famed herds in the Laramie Valley and Shirley Basin areas of the Laramie region have been in decline, but numbers are up in hunt areas 47 and 48, which are northwest of Laramie and east of Rawlins. 

Some whitetails hit hard by disease 

The report also includes forecasts for some other species, such as upland birds, waterfowl, small game and whitetail deer. 

Wyoming isn’t particularly known for whitetails, hunters who know where to look can find those deer, including some large bucks, in lowland thickets and river bottoms scattered across the state. 

Whitetail deer tag allocations remain “liberal” in the much-vaunted Sheridan region, although CWD and bluetongue disease (Hemorrhagic disease) have killed a number of deer there. Bluetongue can also infect antelope, but isn’t transmissible to humans. 

In the Casper region, massive outbreaks of the disease killed many whitetails last fall, which mean hunters pursuing the wily species might face thin odds this year. 

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No Albino Moose Lately In Wyoming But There Has Been An Albino Catfish And Albino Antelope

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By Mark Heinz, public lands and wildlife reporter  

Mark@CowboyStateDaily.com  

 It could be an ethical quandary for hunters: If you had an albino critter in your sights, would you pull the trigger? 

So long as the hunter has a valid tag and the species is in season, there’s no regulation against killing albino game animals in Wyoming, Sara DiRienzo, the public information officer for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, said in an email on Tuesday to Cowboy State Daily. 

Still, some hunters might hesitate, because such all-white creatures are so rare and unusually beautiful. A video of an albino moose sent out across Twitter went viral and immediately gained fans all over the world. 

The website “All About Moose” says albinism occurs in about one of every 100,000 animals in that species. 

The condition is caused by a recessive gene and is extremely rare, DiRienzo said, although “in Wyoming, we’ve seen wildlife from deer to catfish with albinism. “ 

There wasn’t information available about the last time an albino moose was spotted in Wyoming. 

An albino channel catfish was found in May 2017 among a tank of 2,500 catfish that had been transported from Arkansas for stocking in Sloan’s Lake in Cheyenne, according to a Game and Fish news release at the time. 

The same year, an albino pronghorn (antelope) caught attention after being spotted among a herd near Cheyenne. A photo of it was posted on a Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation members’ chat forum. Other members of the forum shared photos of albino wildlife from around the country. 

Albinism in wildlife occurs when an animal’s cells can’t produce melanin, a pigment that causes colorization in skin, eyes, scales or fur, according to information posted on the Iowa Department of Natural Resources website. Because of the lack of eye pigmentation, albino animals can suffer from impaired eyesight. The bright colorization can also make them more vulnerable to predators.  

However, albinism isn’t an all-or-nothing condition. Some animals can be only partly bright-white, while the rest of their skin, scales or fur will have normal colorization. 

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Sen. Ogden Driskill Survives GOP Primary Election, Edging Past Two Foes

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By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily

It wasn’t called until after 11pm but a win is a win is a win.

Senate Majority Floor Leader Ogden Driskill, R-Devils Tower, survived two challengers to win the Republican primary on Tuesday night and will likely go on to lead Wyoming’s State Senate.

Driskill beat challengers Roger Connett and Bill Fortner receiving 2,547 votes while Connett had 2,105 votes and Fortner receiving 1,735 votes.

“I can’t tell you how lucky I feel that I am able to fulfill my last term,” Driskill told Cowboy State Daily. “The world has been dang nice to me. I had a feeling this red wave was coming and I would be a part of it.”

Driskill, who has the second highest office in the state senate, said he wasn’t taking the likely ascension to senate presidency for granted. He said he knows he’s going to have to work for it.

“I definitely want to be senate president,” Driskill said. “I want to be the second president of the senate in Crook County history. I am going to try to go get it.”

“But it’s a matter of votes and I know there are some people who do not want me to have it,” he said. “But I’m going to work for it.”

Former State Sen. Bruce Burns, a longtime legislator from Sheridan, said Driskill’s victory was a big loss for the Wyoming Gun Owners group (WYGO) who had Driskill down as enemy number one.

“Not a good night for the Dorr Brothers,” Burns said, alluding to the trio of siblings who run the gun advocacy group. “Their number one target was Ogden.”

Burns said Albert Sommers’ (R-Pinedale) victory in his primary and Anthony Bouchard’s third-place finish in the U.S. House race was further evidence of WYGO’s bad evening.

“They were also after Albert Sommers.  He prevailed,” Burns said. “And Anthony Bouchard just got flat-out embarrassed.”

Bouchard had 2.6% of the vote in the U.S. House race.

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Longmire Days Begins On Thursday: What To Know Before You Go!

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By Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily

Excitement is building in Buffalo, as townspeople gear up for an influx of fans from all over the world beginning Thursday.

“Longmire Days,” an annual celebration of the characters and stories created by local author Craig Johnson, kicks off on Thursday in the town that inspired the book series and television show.

“I am finalizing and double checking everything,” said Jennifer McCormick, director of the Longmire Foundation in Buffalo. “From making sure that our scheduling is all good for horseback rides, and making sure that the T.A. Ranch is ready and prepared, which they always are, down to making sure we have enough sharpies.”

This is the first year the celebration has taken place since the pandemic shut down the event in 2020. McCormick said that although the virtual events were successful the last couple of years, it’s exciting to have the live celebration again. And ticket sales are going well, she added.

“We’ve noticed an uptick in that, so more people are planning to come, even last minute,” said McCormick. 

Walt Longmire

Johnson’s fictional Wyoming Sheriff, Walt Longmire, is the central character of both the book series and the television show that first attracted fans to the little town of Buffalo, nestled at the base of the Bighorn Mountains in northeast Wyoming.

The Sheriff is also a main draw for those who may travel hundreds – even thousands – of miles to be immersed in the community that is the inspiration for Durant, the fictional town in fictional Absaroka County, Wyoming.

“We couldn’t do Longmire days without Walt Longmire and Robert Taylor,” Johnson told Cowboy State Daily. 

But this year, Taylor is the only member of the cast who will be on hand for the event. Adam Bartley, who portrays Longmire’s trusty deputy, “The Ferg,” has had to cancel his appearance at the last minute.

“I was so excited to see you all and will greatly miss being with you in Absaroka,” Bartley told fans in an email. “I got a gig and we couldn’t work it out, but I tried. I will definitely see you at the next one.”  

Schedule of Events

Tickets are still available for some of the events scheduled over the four-day weekend, but a few have already sold out, according to McCormick.

“We’re sold out on the autograph sessions,” she said. “We have two of those, we run one on a Friday, and one on Saturday. And so those sold out really quickly. There were 300 tickets available.”

McCormick said the autograph sessions are popular because it’s a chance for fans to get up close and personal to their favorite actors – but it’s a long couple of hours for the cast.

“It takes a lot to do an autograph session,” said McCormick. “We have them sit in one place for hours at a time. But they love getting to meet the fans and talk to everybody and hear the stories.”

Also sold out is the opening event, a trail ride with Taylor Thursday morning at 8:30 a.m.

“The horseback ride is always super popular and sells out quickly,” said McCormick. “This year we (scheduled) two different rides of 15 (horses) each, to get a little more intimate for the fans who were able to get tickets to that.”

The author is very involved in the celebration, as well. Johnson will lead a discussion of the cars and sidearms of the books and the television series on Thursday, which will be followed by a presentation of some of the history of Johnson County, as well as a session focused on Johnson’s upcoming book, “Hell and Back.”

“It is an opportunity to do a little bit of a preview for the next book that’s coming out, which is I think number 18 in the series,” Johnson told Cowboy State Daily.

Friday’s events kick off with a 5k fun run, followed by an autograph session, a conversation with the celebrities, and a live charity auction. Saturday’s highlights include a pancake breakfast, another autograph session, and a talk featuring the perspectives of both versions of Walt Longmire – the author’s take, and the actor who portrays him.

“I came up with the original idea for Walt, and kind of populated him from an awful lot of sheriffs that I know here in Wyoming and Montana,” said Johnson. “(And Robert had) his approach in how he built the character, and how he decided different things that he wanted to do and how he wanted to do it.”

Saturday will wrap up with a street dance, followed the next morning by another horseback ride, a rodeo, and a pig roast to close out the event. 

Action At the Occidental

David Stewart, who has owned the Occidental Hotel for 16 years, told Cowboy State Daily their historic hotel in the center of downtown is always a hub for activity in the summer. This week, he said, won’t be much different.

“We have a jam session every Thursday night that we’ve had going on for 16 years,” said Stewart. “So there’ll be that jam session Thursday night, and then Friday and Saturday we’ll just have regular regular music beginning at eight o’clock.”

Stewart said he’s expecting the bar to be especially full if Taylor happens by.

“Robert Taylor is the main guy so people love to come see him,” he said. “He loves hanging out at the Occidental, so anytime that he’s here, the saloon is packed.”

Broad Fan Base

Buffalo is not generally considered a hub for international travel, but McCormick said she’s expecting fans to come from across the globe.

“I had a call from a lady in England the other day who didn’t think she was going to be able to make it,” said McCormick, “but now she is – so she just wanted to call to let me know she’s on her way.”

She said in years past, whole groups of fans have traveled to Buffalo for Longmire Days.

“We’ve had book clubs from Australia,” McCormick said. “We’ve had fan groups from all over Europe. It’s been amazing what Longmire has done for our community, and for the Longmire fan community.” 

“It’ll be a busy weekend,” said Stewart. “We look forward to it.”

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Degenfelder Only Candidate To Beat Trump Endorsee; Moves On To Superintendent Race In General

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By Clair McFarland, Cowboy State Daily

Sixth-generation Wyomingite Megan Degenfelder has won the Republican nomination in the election for Superintendent of Public Instruction.  

Degenfelder defeated short-term incumbent Brian Schroeder by less than 4,000 votes in Tuesday’s Primary Election, 59,301 to 55,746. The race was so close throughout the night it was the last to be called – 20 minutes after midnight. 

Degenfelder was tired and delighted Wednesday morning. She had watched the race results from her hometown of Casper. 

“I went into it yesterday not having particular expectations,” she told Cowboy State Daily. “If I know anything about politics and races, it’s that you can never really predict what’s going to happen.”    

She was the only Wyoming candidate to defeat an opponent who had been endorsed by former President Donald Trump. Trump-endorsed Rep. Chuck Gray won the Republican bid for Secretary of State and incumbent Treasurer Curt Meier, also a Trump pick, was a shoo-in for the GOP bid for his current office.    

Degenfelder said her long-standing Wyoming legacy, the grass-roots campaigning efforts by so many on her behalf, and having a vast majority of her donors based in Wyoming probably made the difference in her narrowly-won race. She also said she would have been pleased to have Trump’s endorsement but the opinions of Wyomingites matter much more to her.    

“We stayed true to our message of empowering parents, partnering with industry, and reducing government,” said Degenfelder.   

She said these campaign priorities will also be her goals in office, along with preparing students for the ever-changing workforce, with a focus on Wyoming jobs in particular.    

Degenfelder worked as chief policy officer under former Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow until 2019, after which Degenfelder became the government and regulatory affairs manager for oil and gas company Morning Star Partners.    

She will face Democratic Party nominee Sergio Maldonado in the general election.    

‘We’d Fight Back’   

Schroeder received statewide attention after the U.S. Department of Agriculture in May released unofficial guidance – with the potential to become a funding requirement – asking schools to update their nondiscrimination statements with new protections based on “gender identity” and “sexual orientation.” 

Numerous state attorneys general have said this change could force schools to allow transgender bathroom access.  

Schroeder said this summer that he believes Wyoming schools can get by without the roughly $40 million per year in USDA school lunch funding.    

Degenfelder said if the guidance becomes an official mandate, she would be willing to fight the federal government in court or otherwise.    

“I’m not going to let kids go hungry and I’m not going to let them share bathrooms,” she said. “If orders led to that, we’d fight back against it.   

“My career has been fighting back against the federal government,” she continued. “I know how to do that and do it effectively.”    

A coalition of 22 states not including Wyoming has sued the USDA over its gender-identity guidance. Gov. Mark Gordon’s office told Cowboy State Daily last month that Wyoming is not among those suing because it doesn’t currently have laws against transgender accommodations like bathroom use and sports participation in schools.   

The other states based a portion of their lawsuit on their existing laws conflicting with the federal guidance.   

‘Reading, Writing And Math’   

Degenfelder opposes the teaching of critical race theory in Wyoming schools.    

“From the beginning I’ve always been opposed to critical race theory and I don’t believe it belongs anywhere near our schools,” she said, adding that no “radical political ideology” belongs in the classroom.    

“We need to focus on reading, writing and math, and preparing our kids for future jobs in Wyoming,” she said.    

To hone that focus, schools will need to become more efficient, cut down on “duplicitous reporting,” red tape, unnecessary “hoops” through which teachers must jump, and get into a classroom-centric approach to education, Degenfelder said.    

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Dan Laursen To Jump From House To Senate With Big Win In Senate District 19

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By Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily 

Dan Laursen’s win in the primary race for Senate District 19 wasn’t certain until the results were posted on Big Horn County’s website early Wednesday morning. 

When all the votes were tallied for the district’s two-county coverage area, Park and Big Horn Counties reported very different results in the three-way race between Laursen, incumbent R.J. Kost, and former legislator Ray Peterson. Laursen ultimately came out the winner. 

A Tale of Two Counties 

In Park County, Kost, the incumbent, received just over 35% of the votes (1,137); Peterson just over 12% (396); and Laursen had the most at 52.5% (1,697).  

Although Laursen’s lead was significant, the outcome couldn’t be certain until Big Horn County results were reported. 

Once those votes were made available early Wednesday morning, Laursen did come out the winner – although the results of the two races were significantly different. 

In Big Horn County, which is what makes up the majority of the Senate district, Peterson won the most votes, with 1,161. Laursen came in second, receiving 883 votes to Kost’s 729.  

Laursen’s total of 2,580 votes beat out incumbent Kost’s 1,866, and Peterson’s total of 1,557. 

Switching Chambers 

Laursen is giving up his seat as representative for House District 25, which he has held since 2015. 

“I wanted to bring my conservative values to the Senate from the House,” Laursen told Cowboy State Daily. “I didn’t appreciate the way (incumbent R.J.) Kost was voting for sure. It was probably one of the biggest reasons.” 

Laursen said property taxes are among the items at the top of his list of issues to address in his new role, as is the issue of school choice. 

“I think the dollar should follow the student,” he said. “And where they want to go, then the dollar should go.” 

Trading Places 

House District 25, which Laursen has represented for the last eight years, is a tiny segment of northeast Park County that will now be represented by David Northrup.  

Northrup, who has not held office for the last two years, previously served in the Wyoming Legislature for eight years as the representative for House District 50, which covers a majority of the northeastern part of Park County.  

Northrup’s win in yesterday’s primary came after a four-way race between Troy Bray, Chris Good and Rex Rich. Northrup was the clear winner, taking a 41% share of the total votes. 

Northrup’s former district is now represented by Rachel Rodriguez-Williams, who ran uncontested for House District 50 in yesterday’s primary. 

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Another Incumbent Loses: Shelly Duncan Beaten By Lingle’s Scott Smith In Goshen County.

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By Clair McFarland, Cowboy State Daily

Lingle man Scott Smith defeated incumbent Rep. Shelley Duncan in the Republican Primary for the state House district representing Goshen County.  

Smith won by about 250 vote leads, with 1,794 votes to Duncan’s 1,546, according to preliminary results from the Wyoming Secretary of State’s office.  

There is no Democratic candidate challenging Smith in the upcoming general election.  

“I’m feeling optimistic and excited to see what we can do to keep the federal government at bay with out state,” Smith told Cowboy State Daily on Wednesday morning.  

Originally from Detroit, Smith has lived in Wyoming for a decade, saying city life is not for him. He worked as a missionary teacher at an orphanage in Honduras after living in Detroit.  

“Wyoming is a pleasant change and I chose to come here,” he said.   

Smith manages the financial accounts for a mechanical repair shop and runs office scheduling and service writing.  

Because of his current career and his past work managing budgets for a Christian camp and a Christian school, Smith said he feels confident in his ability to help Wyoming stay within its budget. He also worked as a teacher at the Christian school, and said one of the ways in which he managed the school’s budget was by having kids and teachers help with custodial work to cut personnel costs. He noticed an increase in pride and responsibility in the kids after this decision.  

The biggest issue he wants to tackle in the state House is property tax reform.  

Property taxes in Wyoming skyrocketed this year with rising real estate prices. Multiple legislators have said it could take a change in the Wyoming Constitution to make a more stable tax structure for Wyoming residents.  

Smith also said he’d like to equip the state to push back against federal government guidance that could lead to incoming mandates to adopt gender-identity policies such as transgender bathroom use and school sports participation. If the guidance becomes an official rule, Wyoming could lose about $40 million per year in school meals funding. 

Duncan did not respond Wednesday morning to a voicemail from Cowboy State Daily. Also from Lingle, she is finishing out her second term in the House.

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Incumbent Sandy Newsome Hangs On To Beat Nina Webber In House District 24 

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By Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily 

Less than 100 votes separated incumbent Sandy Newsome from opponent Nina Webber in the race to claim the seat in Wyoming House District 24, which represents a significant portion of Park County.

When all votes were counted, Newsome came out the winner in the primary, with 1,810 votes to Webber’s 1,727.  No Democrat filed to run for that seat, so Newsome will be unopposed in November’s general election.

Newsome and Webber had run a tight race, and it was anybody’s guess who would come out on top once precincts started reporting in around 7:30 p.m. Tuesday night. 

Webber, who is the current Wyoming Republican National Committeewoman and president of the Wyoming Federation of Republican Women, ran against Newsome and former legislator Scott Court for the same seat in 2020.  

During the most recent race, Webber, the former Hot Springs County Clerk, called Newsome “in the dark” and “out of touch” with her constituents. 

Newsome, who was first elected to the seat in 2018, told Cowboy State Daily that property tax reform and education are the issues that are at the top of her list. 

“We need to deal with property tax reform, for sure,” she said. “I mean, that’s top on the list of things to get done. And then, I’m on the education committee, and we need to really work on getting our kindergarten through third graders to be able to read.” 

In the 2022 legislative session, Newsome advanced several bills that would fund scholarship programs, create cash reserves for public education and investment funds for community colleges, and support programs devoted to childhood reading development. 

“I just want to thank the voters of House District 24,” she said after election results had been posted, “and I’m grateful that they chose me to represent them once again.” 

Newsome expressed her gratitude to her campaign team and donors who contributed to her campaign. 

“I look forward to serving two more years,” she said. 

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Wyoming Public Radio’s Bob Beck To Retire After 34 Years

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By Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily 

Bob Beck has a word of advice for up and coming broadcasters: “Try not to suck.”

In his 34 years behind the microphone at Wyoming Public Radio, Beck has reported on major events, covering stories ranging from legislative happenings to criminal cases to tragic accidents, all of which have captured the attention of audiences around the Cowboy State. He has helped to earn the Laramie-based news station over 100 national, regional and state news awards, and has inspired a generation of would-be broadcasters and journalists.

At 61 years of age, Beck has lived most of his professional life in the state of Wyoming, although he had a more urban upbringing. 

“I grew up in a suburb of Chicago called Wheaton, Illinois, which was just about 30 miles from the city,” Beck told Cowboy State Daily. “I went to college down at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale. I worked down there while I was in school for a couple of radio stations, and then I came to Sheridan, Wyoming in 1983 and worked for KROE.”

After a year at KROE and then another four years at stations KOWB and KCGY in Laramie, Beck was pondering opportunities that would have led him away from the Cowboy State. Then the job of news director at Wyoming Public Radio became available. 

Choosing a Career In Wyoming 

After a decade in Laramie at Wyoming Public Radio, Beck said both he and his wife had been offered job opportunities elsewhere. 

“I figured, well, we could stay in Laramie a couple more years and then we’ll decide what we’re going to do,” he said. “And in 1998, I was offered the job to be the news director at KJZZ in Phoenix.” 

But he said the job wasn’t an exact fit, so he decided to use the offer as a negotiating tool with his boss at WPR. 

“He didn’t really want to lose me,” Beck said. “And I said, ‘Well, if I can get this much more money, and one more reporter…’ and there was this ugly vase that was on his desk, and I said, ‘and if I can have that vase, I’ll stay.’” 

The next afternoon, Beck said his boss walked into his office with the ugly vase and asked him to stay. 

“I think that may have saved me from a divorce,” he said. “I wasn’t real sure my wife was excited about going to Arizona.” 

Beck said that was the last time he seriously entertained a move. And his decision to stay was a timely one, given the major news story that would break that fall that put Laramie in the national spotlight. 

Major News Stories 

Beck said in a way, choosing to stay in Wyoming rather than taking the job in Phoenix actually helped his career, because the Matthew Shepard murder that occurred in October of 1998 put Wyoming Public Radio on the national map. 

“NPR (National Public Radio) realized we were really pretty good, and they could take stories from us,” he said. “And they started to take quite a few stories from us after that.” 

Three years later, another major story would affect Beck deeply. On Sept. 16, 2001, eight members of the University’s cross country team were killed in a collision on Highway 287 south of Laramie. 

“I actually knew the coach very well, Jim Sanchez,” Beck said. “The morning of the day they were killed, I was at a bagel shop in Laramie, going up to the mountains. I actually followed their van to the mountains that morning, they had done a workout up there.”

Later that night, the crash occurred that killed eight of the twelve members of the cross country team. 

“It basically wiped out their team,” Beck said. “And I just remember being just so shocked that I had just seen them.”  

The tragedy added to the raw emotions experienced by all Americans, as the crash occurred just five days after the attacks on the World Trade Center. 

“I later interviewed Clint Haskins, who was the driver, and did a piece on that,” he said. “And it took a little while to get access to him, but I think it worked out that it was the five year anniversary of (the crash). And people outside the state would say to me, ‘Gosh, I don’t even remember that story,’ and I said, ‘You don’t remember it because it was 9-11.’ 

There are other stories that have made an impact on Beck over the last 34 years, as well – like the execution of convicted murderer Mark Hopkinson in 1992. 

“I wasn’t in there, but I was across the street with the other reporters, doing a live broadcast with KOA (Denver),” Beck said. “I brought an intern with me, and they had a stenographer sending notes over, and (the intern) would grab the notes and what they were saying, and I remember reading on the air that he was dead. It was the weirdest thing I’ve ever done in my life.” 

Covering the Legislature 

Beck said reporting on the work of the Wyoming Legislature has been a highlight of his career. 

“It’s amazing,” he said. “I’ve been through so much history.” 

Beck said he thinks he’s one of the few people still involved in Wyoming politics that was at the Capitol when the Legislature passed a sales tax. 

“It was I think ‘92 or something, but it was a long time ago,” he said. “And I saw them pass the Martin Luther King Day bill, and the seatbelt law we have right now. I’ve just got to see a lot of Wyoming history and a lot of interesting laws and debates take place.” 

But he would cover many of the same issues at the Legislature repeatedly. 

“Joan Barron, who used to work for the Casper Star Tribune, and I would always laugh, that maybe we really only covered six issues in the state’s history, because they just never go away,” Beck said.  

That’s why Beck looked forward to covering new issues that would come before the state’s lawmakers. 

“COVID made it sort of fun, because they could argue about that stuff,” he said. “I actually won an award for my coverage on that this year.”  

The Lighter Side 

Because Beck covered Wyoming, from time to time he was required to go “on location.” He recalled a story that required him to go on a long horseback ride in a wilderness area, which was no mean feat for a city guy from the Chicago suburbs. 

“There was a wilderness area they were trying to do just between Sheridan and Johnson counties, and they were trying to convince the Johnson County Commissioners to go along with this – long story short, it never came to be – but it required me being on a horse for like four hours one afternoon,” Beck said. “It wasn’t necessarily that safe. I mean, I almost lost all my equipment in a river.” 

Beck said he was on this particular trek with local representatives, along with then-Representative Cynthia Lummis and future governor Mark Gordon. 

“We were on this trail, it seemed like thousands of feet up with big rocks down below, and I kept thinking, ‘One false move and we’re all dead.’ Boy, I was very pleased when we got off of that trail.” 

Open Spaces 

Beck said he’s been pleased to oversee growth at Wyoming Public Radio after his negotiating tactics worked in 1998. 

“We were getting better here and had a chance to grow,” he said. ”So (expanding) allowed us to do ‘Open Spaces,’ which is our news and public affairs show, and do it well.” 

Beck said that starting “Open Spaces” in the mid-2000s allowed Wyoming Public Radio to produce features and interviews at a high level of quality. 

“This allowed me to focus,” he said. “Get some of the top people and topics on the air… I could produce this thing once a week with music and good writing and editing and all that, and turn it into a thing that has won 11 national awards, either a first or a second. And I’m really proud of that show and what we’ve done with it.”  

University Settin

Because Wyoming Public Radio is licensed to the University of Wyoming, much of what happens there is training for future broadcasters. 

When Beck took over as news director in 1998, he had a small pool of talent to work with.  

“I think I inherited two or three part timers, and then we eventually built that up with interns who would become part timers,” he said. “So if they did a good job, I would keep them on and give them minimum wage.” 

Many of those interns were students of his at the university. 

“(From 1998-2008) I taught broadcast writing, reporting, and then towards the end of the ‘90s, we did a capstone class,” Beck said, explaining that the class put together an hour-long news magazine television program once a month.  

“That was fun, because it was the students who had been through the television production, and the students who had been through radio classes and then had taken my news classes. They did all the technical stuff, set the lights, wrote and reported the stories.” 

Beck said the Matthew Shepard murder occurred during one of those capstone classes. 

“My colleague and I pointed out that, ‘Good schools would jump on this, they would do a really good show on this,’” he said. “I remember that (the students) were like, ‘Oh, all the networks have already done everything, there’s nothing we can cover,’ but we made them do it. And that actually won a regional Emmy.” 

Beck said there are still broadcasters in the state who started their careers as interns at Wyoming Public Radio. 

“It’s a luxury to be in a campus community where you can find some of these people,” he said. “Whether it’s students, or people that we’ve sort of met along the way, we’ve been able to create some of our own reporters, and that’s been kind of fun.”   

Leaving Wyoming 

Beck said that he is leaving the state for very personal reasons – he’s getting married. 

“I’m a widower, and I’ve met somebody in the last year or so,” he said, explaining that his bride-to-be has been offered a job as the director of admissions at SUNY Morrisville in New York state. 

“I thought, since we’re going to be married here in another couple of weeks, maybe I should go live where she lives,” he said. 

Beck said he has no plans to work in radio once he moves to New York – but then again, he said, he never planned to move to New York. 

“It’s just going to be a brave new world,” he said. “I never would have expected either to live in Wyoming, or in the state of New York, and here we are.” 

Beck said he’s leaving Wyoming Public Radio in good hands. 

“I think there’s a good group of people that are doing some good work, and they will continue to do that,” he said. 

His last day on the job will be October 14, after which he will be actively packing to move across the country.  

“We have movers coming over on the 15th, and we will leave that day at some point as soon as they get us packed up,” he said. “So I’ve been getting rid of all my stuff – if any of your readers are interested in an old couch, I’ve got that and a few other things.” 

Try Not To Suck 

Beck’s advice to people who are new to the broadcast industry is, “Try not to suck.” 

“That’s what we all do,” he said. “I’ll have these kids, who will be new, or young people and it’s their first time on the air, and they’re terrified, right? They ask for advice, and you know, ‘What do I do?’ I say, ‘Try not to suck.’ And it’s become a running joke around here, but if you take that approach, it usually works out for you.” 

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Cheney Concedes To Hageman: “This Is Not A Game”

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U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney has conceded defeat to her opponent Harriet Hageman in the 2022 Wyoming Republican primary on Tuesday night. The concession came with 23% of the state’s precincts showing a 19% lead for Hageman.

“This is not a game,” Cheney said in her concession speech. “Everyone one of us must be committed to the eternal defense of this miraculous experiment called America.”

Cheney said she called Hageman personally to concede the race. 

She has been an outspoken critic of former President Donald Trump since the 2020 election. Hageman’s win over Cheney is a major milestone in Trump’s run of candidate endorsements, as Cheney was one of the few within the Republican Party to speak out against him.

In 2020, Cheney won the Republican primary with 73% of the vote. In her concession speech, Cheney claimed “I could have easily done the same again.”

“But it would have required that I went with President Trump’s lie about the 2020 election, it would have required that I label his ongoing effort to stop his efforts to unravel the Democratic system and attack the foundations of our Republic. That is a path I would not and could not take.”

In order to have won the election, Cheney would have had to change the minds of a significant number of Republican voters in Wyoming. Trump won Wyoming in 2020 by a larger margin than any other state.

Cheney stayed consistent in her explanation for speaking out against Trump, despite the state’s propensity for the former president, in that it was her duty to the Constitution and her oath of office. 

“I well understood the potential consequences,” she said.

Cheney said she loves the Republican Party, but her oath to the country rose above this.

In her concession speech, Cheney laid some potential groundwork for a 2024 presidential run. She mentioned how former President Abraham Lincoln was defeated in elections for the U.S. Senate and House before becoming elected president. 

“Now, the real work begins,” she said.

Cheney has owned a residence in Wyoming since 2013. Prior to that purchase, she spent a limited time in the state. 

Hageman addressed this in her victory speech.

Wyoming has made clear that we are done being governed by the Washington, D.C. uniparty – those Democrats and Republicans who don’t really care which party is in power, just so long as they are,” Hageman said in her victory speech. “Wyoming has sent the message- if you are going to claim to live in Wyoming, you better damn well live in Wyoming.”

She also mentioned the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. Cheney is serving as vice chair on the Jan. 6 Committee. Cheney said she assumed that most others would join her in opposing Trump after that day.

She sees this event as giving credibility and credence to extreme conspiracy theories and lies.

“Our great nation must not be ruled by a mob provoked over social media,” she said.

Cheney also briefly weighed in on Wyoming’s state-level elections, saying these races are just as critical for ensuring democracy and free and fair elections.

“As we leave here tonight we will stand together, Republicans, Democrats and Independents, against those who will destroy our Republic,” Cheney said. “They are angry and they are determined. But they have not seen anything like the power of Americans united in defense of our Constitution and committed to the cause of freedom.”

Degenfelder Beats Schroeder In Republican Superintendent Race

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by Leo Wolfson, political reporter

Megan Degenfelder has won the Republican nomination for Superintendent of Public Instruction, taking down incumbent Brian Schroeder. 

It was a race that came down to the wire, with Degenfelder winning by 3,555 votes. It was the last state race called during the evening, with Big Horn County not releasing its results until around 12:20 a.m., early Wednesday morning.

The Superintendent of Public Instruction is in charge of Wyoming’s K-12 public schools.

“I’m so humbled,” Degenfelder told Cowboy State Daily. “Our campaign was a true grassroots effort, a Wyoming campaign with support from people all around the state.”


Degenfelder said it’s important to have people with deep rooted connections to Wyoming serving in elected office, a relationship she sees as a bridge of accountability in these elected officials’ relationship to their state.

Degenfelder, a Cheyenne resident, is a sixth-generation Wyoming native who is the government and regulatory affairs manager for Morningstar Partners Oil and Gas. She was a chief policy officer for the state Department of Education from 2017 to 2019.

Degenfelder has said she will attempt to bridge the gap between the Department of Education and the private sector to let individual school districts determine educational needs based on the needs of each community’s workforce. 

She has also said the voices of parents are being silenced in classrooms and described the state’s public schools as having lost track of Wyoming and American values like innovation and hard work.

U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis endorsed Degenfelder in her campaign.

Schroeder was appointed by Gov. Mark Gordon in January when former Superintendent Jillian Balow stepped down to take a similar position in Virginia. 

The Wyoming Republican Party had picked Schroeder and two other candidates for Gordon to pick from after Balow stepped down. The way this process was conducted drew a lawsuit that was eventually thrown in court.

Schroeder made waves over this summer for verbally opposing Federal government mandates related to recognizing gender identity in schools. He announced in June that he believes Wyoming has enough money to withdraw from $40 million annually in federal school meals dollars that could soon be linked to transgender policies.  

Schroeder was endorsed by former President Donald Trump in his campaign. Schroeder’s loss is the only one Trump took in the state in this primary election, as the other three candidates he endorsed won.

Degenfelder will take on Democrat Sergio Maldanado Sr. in the general election.

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Incumbent Sen. Cale Case Wins Squeaker In Wyoming Republican Primary

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By Clair McFarland, Cowboy State Daily

In a squeaker, incumbent state Sen. Cale Case won the Republican Primary Election for his Lander district.  

Case was challenged this season by Shawn Olmstead, a Riverton man hailing from Colorado who billed himself as an ultra-conservative political candidate. 

Though registered Republican, Case often describes himself as a Libertarian thinker.  

There is no Democratic candidate for the same district to challenge Case in the General Election this November.  

As Lander, the Wind River Indian Reservation towns, and Riverton numbers rolled in to the Fremont County Clerk’s office late Tuesday night, Case trailed consistently by a slim margin.  

Then came the tally of the absentee voters.  

Ultimately Case, who has been a state legislator for 30 years, won the vote with 2,632 to Olmstead’s 2,150.  

In his interview he said he was humbled and hoped to bridge the gap between polarized political groups.  

“I’ve reached out to both sides; I believe our future involves everybody working together and we can’t be polarized. I believe it sincerely,” said Case. “I’m grateful for the win, for all the people who supported me.” 

Olmstead did not return a voicemail Tuesday evening requesting comment. 

Case’s district is one of the most politically diverse usually, with heavy Democratic presence on the Wind River Indian Reservation, significant Democratic presence in Lander, and prevailing Republican presence in his district’s portion of Riverton and surrounding rural areas.  

One of a handful of pro-choice Republicans in the Wyoming Legislature, Case believes his record on the issue may have played a role in how close his race was.  

State legislators now have more power over abortion policy than they have in nearly 50 years, with the U.S. Supreme Court overturn of Roe vs. Wade in June.  

Case told Cowboy State Daily early on Tuesday – before his close win – that he hopes to get the state’s budget in line before the American Rescue Plan Act funding runs out, by making the state “fiscally responsible.”  

He also said Wyomingites should figure out how to deal with the U.S. Congress’ recently passed Inflation Reduction Act, which Case called “a gross misnomer” that will not reduce inflation but will harm the economy.  

Case has been a longtime proponent for imposing higher taxes on renewable energy companies setting up shop in Wyoming, particularly wind farms.   

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Conservative Non-Tribal Member Wins Republican Nomination For The Reservation

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By Clair McFarland, Cowboy State Daily
Clair@CowboyStateDaily.com

Self-described conservative candidate Sarah Penn has won the Republican nomination for House District 33, centering on the Wind River Indian Reservation.  

Penn still has to challenge Democratic incumbent Rep. Andi LeBeau in the General Election to win the seat.  

This district is the only legislative district in Wyoming that must have a majority of racial-minority voters, by law. It’s about 67% American Indians.  

Penn was the only one of the three Republican contenders who is not a tribal member. She was challenged by Northern Arapaho tribal member Valaira Whiteman and Eastern Shoshone tribal member Wade LeBeau.  

She doubled her competitors’ votes combined, winning 842 votes to Whiteman’s 250 and LeBeau’s 138.

Penn said she was “pretty dang excited,” but also knew she had put in the legwork, and was grateful to those who helped her.  She added that there’s still a lot of work ahead heading into the November General Election.  

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Incumbent Albert Sommers Wins Republican Primary With Big Margin In Sublette County

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By Clair McFarland, Cowboy State Daily
Clair@CowboyStateDaily.com

Wyoming House Majority Floor Leader Albert Sommers has won the Republican nomination for his district in and surrounding Pinedale.  

Sommers won with 2,113 votes Tuesday night against Mike Schmid, who had 1,193, and Bill Winney, who had 156.  

Sommers told Cowboy State Daily on Tuesday morning – hours before the voting ended – that he was too busy cutting hay to be nervous. He was also fixing a tractor.  

He said he hoped for a chance to fight for Wyoming water rights, the Sublette County economy, school funding and property tax reform.  

Local governmental control, as with school boards and other entities, is very important to him, Sommers said.  

“I’m so appreciative of all the people that have helped me during this campaign and have believed in me, and helped me carry this workload of what was a very substantial campaign,” he added.   

He also praised his constituents, saying when he knocked on doors people were “very civil,” even when they said they didn’t plan to vote for him.  

“I was pleased at that.”   

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Chuck Gray Defeats Tara Nethercott In Wyo Secretary Of State Primary

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By Leo Wolfson, Cowboy State Daily

State Rep. Chuck Gray, R-Casper, has won the Secretary of State race over State Sen. Tara Nethercott, R-Casper. The Associated Press called the election with Gray holding a more than 9,000 vote lead and 73% of the state’s precincts reporting.

This race garnered some of the most attention in Wyoming leading up to primary election day, with mudslinging occurring between both candidates. 

Gray has served in the Wyoming Legislature since 2017. Now, he will oversee the state’s elections.

There are no Democrats running for Secretary of State.

Gray vowed to ban all ballot drop boxes in the state if elected. Nine counties used these boxes during the 2020 elections in Wyoming.

Gray also said he will make ballot harvesting a felony in Wyoming. This would have to take place through action made by the Wyoming Legislature, as this body is responsible for making laws in the state.

Nethercott had said she would not make changes to election security law in Wyoming, a point Gray attacked her for during the campaign.

There have been four cases of election fraud prosecuted in Wyoming since 2000.

During the campaign, Gray hosted free screenings of the “2000 Mules” movie. This movie alleges that ballots were stuffed in key battleground states during the 2020 presidential election. No footage from Wyoming was shown in the movie.

Gray has also pledged to institute runoff elections, performing hand count audits of elections and other measures. 

He also said he will do a back of the house audit to see if Wyoming’s trust laws are being abused as a tax haven by foreign oligarchs. 

Gray accused Nethercott of being an insider and being under investigation by the Secretary of State office for campaign finance violations, a claim the office denied. 

Nethercott said Gray wasn’t transparent about his sources of campaign funding in his 2021 U.S. House campaign.

State Rep. Cyrus Western, Big Horn, won his primary bid for a third term against Bryan Miller in a very close race decided by 137 votes. Miller is the chairman of the Sheridan County Republican Party.

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Night Of The Upsets: Many Wyoming Incumbents Fall To Challengers

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By Leo Wolfson, Cowboy State Daily

A number of incumbent Wyoming legislators have lost their seats in the primary elections on Tuesday night, while a few have held on.

State Sen. Drew Perkins, R-Casper, lost to Bob Ide in the Senate 29 Republican primary. Perkins had been in the state legislature for seven years and served as President of the Senate and majority leader during his tenure.

Ide, who attended the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, won the race by 5% of the vote, a total of 332 votes.

State Rep. Pat Sweeney, R-Casper, also lost. Sweeney had served in the legislature for five years. Bill Allemand beat Sweeney by 25% of the vote.

Incumbent State Sen. Tom James, R-Green River, lost his attempt at a second term. He is considered one of the most conservative legislators in the state, supported by Wyoming Gun Owners. Beating James was challenger Rock Springs resident Stacy Jones.

“I am so humbled by all of the support I have received. I never expected there to be such a wide margin between myself and my opponent,” Jones told Cowboy State Daily on Tuesday. “We worked hard every day and with the help of great supporters and voters, we ended up with a win. I look forward to finishing this election on top and then working hard for the citizens of Senate District 13 and Sweetwater County.”

Rep. Albert Sommers, R-Pinedale, won his primary bid for a fourth term. Sommers went against a field of two other candidates. Sommers has served in the legislature since 2017.

“I would like to thank the citizens of House District 20, particularly Sublette County for trusting me to serve them,” Sommers said. “I am truly humbled by their support and the support of the good folk who helped me in the campaign.”

Sommers beat second place challenger Mike Schmid by 720 votes. Finishing third was Bill Winney.

Rep. Steve Harshman, R-Casper, won his Republican primary for a fourth term. He fended off Steve Bray for the win. Harshman was one of many Republican Wyoming legislators accused of not being conservative enough.

Sen. Wendy Schuler, R-Evanston, won her Republican primary over Rep. Bob Wharff, R-Evanston.

“I’m beyond thrilled to have won and I’m honored to represent the people of Uinta County for a second term,” Schuler told Cowboy State Daily on Tuesday night. “I tried to represent the people to the best of my ability and I feel like they rewarded me with another four years.”

Wharff had served in the Legislature for one term. He was supported by Wyoming Gun Owners.

Rep. Barry Crago, R-Buffalo, beat Richard Tass for his bid at a second term. Tass is a former legislator who served from 2019-2021.

State Rep. Landon Brown, R-Cheyenne, won his primary election in his bid for a fourth term. Brown beat two other opponents by a sizable margin. He serves on the House Education Committee and the House Labor Committee.

Tamara Trujillo beat her cousin, incumbent State Rep. John Romero-Martinez, R-Cheyenne, in House District 44. Trujillo will face former Democratic State Legislator Sara Burlingame in the general election.

Sen. Ogden Driskill, R-Devils Tower, won his primary bid for a fourth term. Driskill said he ran again with the hopes of being Senate President.

“I can’t tell you how lucky I feel that I am able to fulfill my last term,” Driskill said. “The world has been dang nice to me. I had a feeling this red wave was coming and I would be a part of it.”

Driskill beat Rep. Bill Fortner, R-Gillette, and Roger Connett, chair of the Crook County Republican Party.

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Cowboy State Daily Declares Hageman As Winner Of Republican House Race

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By Leo Wolfson, Cowboy State Daily

Harriet Hageman will be heading to the November general election as Wyoming’s Republican nominee for U.S. House of Representatives.

“Wyoming has spoken on behalf of everyone all across this great country who believes in the American dream, who believes in liberty, and who recognizes that our natural rights – the freedom of speech, freedom of religion, equal protection and due process, come from God, they do not come from the Government,” Hageman said in her victory speech.

U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney’s third and final term will run through Jan. 3, 2023.

In most ways, the race was a test on Wyoming’s allegiance to former President Donald Trump as it was the candidate’s own qualifications.

Hageman has remained loyal to Trump throughout the campaign. Her campaign was first announced through his endorsement of her in September 2021. She held a rally with Trump in May and in early August, joined in on his claim the 2020 presidential election was rigged.

Hageman’s Casper rally in May drew around 10,000 people.

Hageman held an election night party in Cheyenne on Tuesday night while Cheney held an event in Jackson.

Cheney has rarely been seen in Wyoming during the campaign and when she has, it has been at smaller events where an audience supporting is likely present. Due to security concerns, she has been flanked by members of the Capitol Police when she attends events.

“Wyoming has put the politicians on notice, not just here, but all across the country — our representatives work for us, and not the other way around,” Hageman said. “Obviously, we are all grateful for President Donald Trump, who understood Wyoming has only one congressional representative and we need make sure it counts.”

“His clear and unwavering support from the VERY beginning propelled us to victory tonight. In closing, we’re onto November – thank you Wyoming, and thank you to America – the greatest country in the history of the world. We must return her to the greatness she deserves.”

Cheney has spoken out against Trump since he started questioning the results of the 2020 election. She lost her leadership role in the House for these actions and was censured by the Wyoming Republican Party and Republican National Committee.

This past year, Cheney served as vice chair of the Jan. 6 Committee, a move a Casper Star Tribune poll showed did not help her win support among Wyoming voters. 

“Wyoming has spoken on behalf of everyone who understands that our government is a government of, by and for the people,” Hageman said in her victory speech.” And that we do control the levers of power when we engage, when we participate, and when we hold our elected officials accountable for their actions.

Hageman has said Cheney has betrayed Wyoming voters for her actions against Trump. Trump won Wyoming by a larger margin than any other state in 2020. In her last ad of the campaign, Hageman said the election is not about Cheney, but the voter themselves.

“She’s made her time in Congress, and this election, all about her,” Hageman narrated. “Well, it’s not about her. It’s about you. Wyoming deserves a voice in Congress to fight for our values, our way of life.”

In her last ad of the campaign, Cheney never once asked voters to vote for her, but rather, asked them to join her fight against Trump.

In order for Cheney to have won this race, she would have to change the minds of 34% of the state’s voters from the 2020 election. This statistic does not take into account crossover  voting, but only 24% of the state’s voters cast a ballot in favor of President Joe Biden in 2020.

Hageman has committed to fighting against government regulation and supporting Wyoming’s fossil fuel industries.

A land and water attorney, Hageman will likely address many issues related to Wyoming’s water rights in Congress.

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Cowboy State Daily Declares Mark Gordon Winner Of Republican Gov Primary

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By Leo Wolfson, Cowboy State Daily

Gov. Mark Gordon has won the Republican nomination for reelection in Wyoming.

He beat out challengers Brent Bien and Rex Rammell for the win.

Gordon raised far more money than his challengers in the race. With $153,061 on-hand entering the race from his 2018 campaign, Gordon received $441,577 additional contributions for a total of $541,577  in campaign funds.

Bien received $99,822 for his campaign.

Gordon leaned on his experience as governor and his reopening of the state during the COVID-19 pandemic as reasons why voters should support him. He promotes an “all of the above” strategy when it comes to energy, encouraging investment in green energy while continuing a commitment to fossil fuels.

Bien said humans have played a “negligible” role in causing climate change and said “God controls the climate.” He sees hypocrisy in those looking to cut carbon emissions because of climate change. Many people from this movement do not want U.S. coal, some of the cleanest burning in the world, exported to China. That country has much lower emission standards for its coal.  

Bien said Gordon’s handling of the pandemic was his main inspiration for running for office. Even prior to his election loss, Bien expressed gratitude for the campaign experience.

“Me and my wife have been so humbled traveling across the state,” he told Cowboy State Daily in an earlier interview.

Rammell attacked Bien towards the end of the campaign, accusing him of being ineligible to run because he served overseas in the military within the last five years. Bien said he had confirmed with the Secretary of State’s office that he was eligible to run prior to the election. Rammell said he plans to file a lawsuit against the Secretary of State office for allowing Bien to run.

Rammell, who has run in four statewide elections in the last six years, vowed that he would confiscate back all federal lands in Wyoming from the U.S. Government on his first day in office.

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Cowboy State Daily Declares Kristi Racines Winner Of Wyo State Auditor

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By Leo Wolfson, Cowboy State Daily

Wyoming State Auditor Kristi Racines has won the Republican nomination to serve her office for another four years.

Racines ran unopposed in the Republican primary and will face no Democratic challenger in the general election.

Racines still actively campaigned throughout the state, attending parades in Sheridan, Casper, Cody, Chugwater, Jackson, Farson, Torrington and Riverton.

“One of my top priorities is listening to constituents in every corner of the state,” Racines said on her campaign website. “I value robust, in person outreach so I may better understand the issues facing both our rural and urban communities.”

Within 30 days of taking office, produced and turned over six years’ worth of expenditure data, a move she said eliminated barriers to transparency that had plagued Wyoming for years.

She also reduced the auditor’s budget by 10% and personnel by 15%, while providing the same level or increased services to the public.

She also spearheaded the Governor’s Business, Banking, and Employee COVID-19 taskforce during the pandemic, playing a role in securely distributing more than $1 billion in stimulus funding to Wyoming families, small businesses, and hospitals.

​The auditor’s office has received awards from the Government Financial Officers Association for Excellence in Financial Reporting.

Prior to becoming elected auditor, Racines was Chief Fiscal Officer and Director of Human Resources for Wyoming’s judiciary. She also served on the State Employee Compensation Commission and was appointed to the inaugural Government Efficiency Commission in 2017. 

In 2018, Racines beat Nathan Winters by 19% of the vote in the Republican primary and Democratic challenger Jeff Dockter by 47% in the general election.

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Cowboy State Daily Declares Curt Meier Victor In Wyo State Treasurer Race

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By Leo Wolfson, Cowboy State Daily

State Treasurer Curt Meier has won the Republican nomination for a second term in office.

Meier ran a mostly unopposed campaign, with his lone Republican opponent Bill Gallop declining to show up to most political forums. 

Meier earned an endorsement from former President Donald Trump in early August.

Prior to being elected treasurer, Meier was a state senator for Goshen, Niobrara and Weston counties for 23 years.

The treasurer of Wyoming oversees managing the state’s investments. During Meier’s tenure, the state’s investments grew from $20 billion to more than $25 billion.

Gallop said the state should have had a much greater rate of growth during this time. From 2019-2022, the U.S. stock market grew by 103%. 

“Meier couldn’t even catch fish when fish were jumping into the boat,” Gallop wrote on his blog.

Investment funds inside the Wyoming Retirement System also grew from $5 billion to nearly $9 billion.

During the Wyoming Legislature’s 2022 budget session, Meier graded his office’s accounting performance as subpar, giving his department a C- grade.

In early 2022, Meier’s office was unable to account for roughly $106 million in state funds, which delayed the release of the State Auditor’s Office’s Annual Comprehensive Financial Report for six months.

Gallop is a former Wyoming Retirement System employee who lives in Cheyenne. 

In 2018, Meier secured a win in the Republican primary with 50.2% of the vote, beating his leading challenger Leland Christensen by about 5% of the vote. He then beat Democrat Chris Lowry by 45% of the vote in the general election.

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Wyoming Daily Gas Map: Tuesday, August 16, 2022

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By Tim Mandese, Cowboy State Daily 

Wyoming’s average price per gallon of $3.98, is down 7 cent from our last report of $4.05 on Monday. 

The website GasBuddy.com, which tracks national gas prices, reported Wyoming’s average gas price is down 15 cents from a week ago, and is up, 40 cents per gallon from one year ago.         

Wyoming’s average price for gasoline remained above the national average of $3.92      

High and Low Prices:         

The highest reported gasoline price in Wyoming on Tuesday was in Moose at the Phillips 66, 12170 Doran Rd, at $5.79 per gallon. The lowest price in Wyoming was in Casper, with multiple locations reporting $3.25 per gallon.        

The highest county average is in Teton County, with an average of $4.84 per gallon. The county with the lowest average, is Natrona County, with $3.35 per gallon. These are the highest and lowest reported prices among those stationed surveyed.         

*The average price per gallon of regular in each Wyoming county:  

Albany $3.71; Big Horn $4.01; Campbell $3.56; Carbon $4.01; Converse $4.07; Crook $4.12; Fremont $4.27; Goshen $4.20; Hot Springs $4.07; Johnson $4.21; Laramie $3.95; Lincoln $4.83; Natrona $3.35; Niobrara $3.85; Park $4.39; Platte $4.01**; Sheridan $4.01; Sublette $4.01; Sweetwater $3.99; Teton $4.84; Uinta $4.01; Washakie $4.01; Weston: $4.04 

*The lowest price per gallon, reported in major Wyoming cities: 

Basin $4.45; Buffalo $4.12; Casper $3.25; Cheyenne $3.69; Cody $4.24; Douglas $3.98; Evanston $4.32; Gillette $3.43; Jackson $4.76; Kemmerer $4.32; Laramie $3.57; Lusk $3.84; Newcastle $3.89; Pinedale $4.10; Rawlins $3.99; Riverton $4.22; Rock Springs $3.69; Sheridan $3.95; Sundance $4.09; Thermopolis $4.04; Wheatland $4.58; Worland $4.41 

**Tim’s Observations: 

As prices continue to fall across the state, there are some counties that are seemingly defying the trend. We have more reader reports that point out, prices are higher in Platte county than are given by GasBuddy.com.  

One reader, wrote us to say the prices she’s seeing in her area are averaging $4.75 per gallon, while the average price given for Platte by GasBuddy, is closer to $4.01 per gallon. I have seen these odd mismatches pop up for other counties before, and in most cases as more people report more prices to GasBuddy these anomalies are corrected in a few days to a week.  

Other factors to consider are false reports or a lack of user reports. Recently there was one anonymous GasBuddy app contributor in Casper that was repeatedly targeting a particular station with a really low false report. That person soon stopped reporting and prices there returned to normal. These kind of reports can skew a county average up or down. 

This probably isn’t the case in Platte County, but let’s see how the reports play out there over the next few days. If you would like to search prices in your city, or for a particular station near you, GasBuddy.com has a search page that lets you plug in the search you need. https://www.gasbuddy.com/home 

Do you want to help us gather the most accurate gas prices for this report? Consider downloading the GasBuddy app and submit the gas prices in your area.   

*Note: Prices in this report are for reference only. They are gathered just prior to posting, and may not reflect prices that have changed since last posted. 

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Big Guns Come Out For Hageman; Trump Joins Conf Call, Kevin McCarthy Campaigns in Jackson

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Cowboy State Daily’s live election coverage begins at 7pm. Join us on our live blog.


By Leo Wolfson, political reporter
Leo@CowboyStateDaily.com

Some of the biggest national names in the Republican Party have been campaigning for U.S. House candidate Harriet Hageman in the final days of her primary campaign. 

On Monday, former President Donald Trump and Minority Speaker Leader of the House Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., both assisted with her Hageman’s campaign efforts. Incumbent U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney has been an adversary of Trump and McCarthy. 

Trump attended a telephone rally for Hageman on Monday night, but said few words besides thanking the audience. 

That same day, McCarthy was campaigning for Hageman in Jackson and did an interview with Fox News in front of the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort ski lift. Jackson is an area of strength for Cheney, as she and her father, former Vice President Dick Cheney, own homes in Teton County, a county that tends to lean Democrat politically.  

Hageman has repeatedly criticized Cheney for participating in the Jan. 6 Committee. McCarthy, an outspoken critic of Cheney, described Tuesday’s primary as a “referendum” on the committee, which Cheney serves as vice chair of. 

“”The principle philosophy is less government, an idea of freedom in the aspect that just the concepts of a country that’s conceived in liberty and dedicated proposition that we’re all it has,” McCarthy said “and her (Cheney) whole focus has been against one individual, whether she has information or not, instead of focusing on her district itself.” 

Cheney described McCarthy’s comments as a “word salad” that doesn’t make sense.  

“Was there an actual sentence in there somewhere?” she questioned. 

She has said it’s her Constitutional duty to speak out against Trump, his attempts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election, and his conduct related to the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. 

McCarthy said he expects Hageman to win. He said this victory will give the Republican Party momentum nationwide and believes Republicans will win back a majority in the House, a feat that has not occurred since 2016.

“We’ll win the majority, and I’ll be speaker,” McCarthy said. 

Former U.S. Rep. Pat Fallon, R-Texas, said Trump had asked him and other Republicans to travel to Wyoming to canvas for Hageman, Fox News reported.  

McCarthy is one of a handful of Republican congress members to endorse Hageman or donate money to her campaign. A few moderate Republican and Democrat members of congress have endorsed Cheney.

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Primary Election Day Is Here In Wyoming; Polls Close At 7pm

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By Leo Wolfson, political reporter

Cowboy State Daily’s live election coverage starts at 7pm. Join our live blog.


Primary Election day is here in Wyoming.

With polls opening at 7 a.m. around the state Tuesday morning, voters have flooded their local polling places, electing candidates they believe will make Wyoming a better place.

Cheney vs. Hageman

The Republican primary for the U.S. House race between Rep. Liz Cheney and leading challenger Harriet Hageman has received national attention for months, with major media outlets writing hundreds of stories about the challengers. 

Recent polls suggest Hageman has a comfortable lead in the race but pre-election surveys are not always correct. One great example of this was in the 2016 presidential election, where very few polls predicted that former President Donald Trump would win.

Cheney will likely need a strong turnout from her supporters in the highly populated Natrona and Laramie counties, as well historic crossover voting from people previously registered as Democrats and Independents. 

A recent University of Wyoming poll suggests she does not have Independent voter support and not enough Democrats exist in the state to help her win. 

Many notable Democrats throughout the state have pledged support for Cheney, leading many to believe the election will feature historic levels of crossover voting.

Many, including the candidates, have made Trump a focus of the race, with Cheney speaking against the former president and Hageman supporting Trump and earning his endorsement.

Gray vs. Nethercott

The Secretary of State race is getting some of the most attention on a state level currently, as mudslinging between State Rep. Chuck Gray, R-Casper and State Sen. Tara Nethercott, R-Cheyenne has increased in the weeks leading up to primary day. 

Over the weekend, Gray released an advertisement featuring a number of false claims against Nethercott, including that she is being sued for defamation and under investigation for campaign finance violations. Nethercott has not been served with any lawsuit and the Secretary of State office has confirmed no investigation is taking place of her for campaign finance issues.

Gray did not respond to requests for comment to explain his allegations. 

He did file a complaint against her for failing to include the “paid for” line on her campaign signs, but this is not a legal requirement in Wyoming elections.

Nethercott has attacked Gray for his sources of campaign funding. Former Wyoming Secretary of State Max Maxfield, a Nethercott supporter, filed a Federal Election Commission complaint against Gray related to his 2021 U.S. House campaign, a document that was leaked to the media.

This document and finances for Gray’s current campaign show he has received a significant portion of his funding from his father. Nethercott and her supporters have criticized Gray for this.

Gordon vs. Bien vs. Rammell

The Republican primary for the Wyoming Governor’s race has not received nearly as much attention as it did in 2018, when Gov. Mark Gordon was elected.

Gordon’s opponents have mostly criticized him for his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, with leading opponent Brent Bien saying the governor’s handling of this event was his main inspiration for running. Gordon has defended his handling of the pandemic and has cited the fact that Wyoming was one of the first states in the country to reopen its public schools in August 2020.

The majority of mudslinging in this race has been between Bien and fellow challenger Rex Rammell. Rammell has accused Bien of being ineligible to run in the race because he was recently serving in the military overseas. Last week, Rammell said he planned to file a lawsuit against the Secretary of State’s office for failing to take action on the matter.

Besides management of the pandemic, which both Rammell and Bien have said they would not have initiated shutdowns for, the candidates are fairly similar politically. Rammell is the most conservative of the three, saying he will confiscate all federal lands from the U.S. government immediately upon taking office.

Key State Legislature races

Western Wyoming

  • Republican Senate 25: Cale Case (incumbent) vs. Shawn Olmstead
  • Republican House 20: Albert Sommers (incumbent) vs. Mike Schmid vs. Bill Winney
  • Republican Senate 15: Wendy Schuler (incumbent) vs. Bob Wharff
  • Democrat House 23: Liz Storer vs. Ryan Sedgeley

Central Wyoming

  • Republican Senate 29: Drew Perkins (incumbent) vs. Bob Ide
  • Republican House 37: Steve Harshman (incumbent) vs. Steve Bray
  • Republican House 58: Pat Sweeney (incumbent) vs. Bill Allemand

Northeast Wyoming

Southeast Wyoming

  • Republican House 5: Shelly Duncan (incumbent) vs. Scott Smith
  • Republican House 9: Landon Brown (incumbent) vs. Alan Sheldon vs. Dean Petersen
  • Republican House 44: John Romero-Martinez (incumbent) vs. Michael Reyes vs. Tamara Trujillo
  • Democrat House 11: James Byrd vs. Marguerite Herman

Northwest Wyoming

Cowboy State Daily will have non-stop, live primary election coverage beginning at 7 p.m. Tuesday. Tune in for a live blog of political analysis, the most up-to-date election coverage in the state and expert political analysis from the Cowboy State Daily team.

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Wyoming Author C.J. Box Suffers Third Degree Burns In Freak Barbecue Incident

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By Joshua Wood, business/tourism reporter
Josh@CowboyStateDaily.com

The good news is Wyoming author C.J. Box didn’t explode in a barbecue accident earlier this summer.

The bad news is he did suffer third degree burns following the barbecue incident but he’s mostly recovered.

Box told Cowboy State Daily that the mishap occurred right after hosting some friends on a “fishing float” in June and they were making dinner.

“They (over) filled an aluminum roaster pan with ribs and liquid and when we went to take it off the grill it poured all over my right foot, resulting in 3rd degree burns,” Box said.

Following two surgeries and multiple visits to the Burn Unit at the CU/Anschutz Hospital in Denver, Box said he’s back on his feet and “all but fully recovered.”

Box said he had been unable to fish, golf or enjoy outdoor activities during the recovery period, which is a tough sentence in Wyoming’s short summers.

But what he could do is write. And write he did.

“In the meanwhile, I worked on the next Joe Pickett book called STORM WATCH.  It’s a doozy. Yesterday, I wrote the best two words a novelist can ever write: THE END,” he announced on Twitter.

Box said the book, his 23rd Joe Picket novel, will take place during a series of spring blizzards and will involve a murder, a cover-up, shed hunting, and a rogue group of instigators. 

The book will be out in March, 2023, he said.

Good news for Box fans who don’t want to wait that long. His book “Treasure State” will be released on September 27 and has already received rave reviews.

For those who are planning on joining the author at his annual Joe Pickett trivia contest, that’s still on. That’s planned for August 26 in Saratoga.

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Cowboy State Daily’s Election Coverage Begins At 7PM

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By Jimmy Orr
Editor, Cowboy State Daily

Today is the day.  After what has seemed to be a never-ending primary season, Wyoming voters go to the polls on Tuesday.

Even on Tuesday morning, mobile phones were getting messages from candidates and PACs urging citizens to vote one way or the other.

Cowboy State Daily will start election coverage shortly before 7pm.

The live blog will be anchored by Jimmy Orr and Bill Sniffin with contributors from all around the state.

Leo Wolfson, who has been guiding you through the election season as our chief political reporter, will take point.  He will not only be writing the big stories but will be coordinating all of the data we’ll be getting in from our reporters from around the state.

Wendy Corr will be covering northwest Wyoming. Clair McFarland will handle western and central Wyoming. Josh Wood has southwestern Wyoming covered. Jen Kocher has the northeast. Ellen Fike has southeast Wyoming. Mark Heinz has more central Wyoming coverage.

It just wouldn’t be an election without commentary from Rod Miller and Cat Urbigkit. They’ll be here too offering up their colorful opinions.

What to expect from us:

The live blog will updated constantly.  When Bill and I get new information, we’ll post it.

Leo and others will be writing longer form stories as they develop.

We’ll start at 7pm and the coverage will be constant.

See you tonight.

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Primary Season Is Over: Wyoming’s Election Is Tuesday Night

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By Leo Wolfson, political reporter
Leo@CowboyStateDaily.com

It may not feel like it yet, but primary season is just about over in Wyoming, and for that matter election season is mostly over. In a state with a large Republican majority, most of the election drama statewide will take place Tuesday night.

And with that, the state’s major political campaigns have released their last advertisements.

On Aug. 8, U.S. House candidate Harriet Hageman unveiled her final ad of the election cycle, telling Wyoming voters the election is not about U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney.

“She’s made her time in Congress, and this election, all about her,” Hageman narrates. “Well, it’s not about her. It’s about you. Wyoming deserves a voice in Congress to fight for our values, our way of life.”

Most of the commercial shows stock footage of Cheney and a shot captured by drone aircraft, of a windmill brandishing a Hageman yard sign. Besides a still-photo of Hageman shown at the end of the commercial, the candidate never physically appears in the ad.

The low-budget production may be a testament to Hageman’s confidence at this stage in the race. A recent University of Wyoming poll showed her leading Cheney by nearly 30 points.

On Thursday, Cheney released her final ad of the campaign, telling voters this election is about opposing former President Donald Trump.

In the highly contentious Secretary of State race, both candidates made a strong final push to get their messaging out.

In mailers sent out across Wyoming, State Rep. Chuck Gray, R-Casper claimed his opponent State Sen. Tara Nethercott, R-Cheyenne is facing a lawsuit for defamation and lying and is under investigation by the Secretary of State’s office for violating campaign finance laws.



There is no evidence any lawsuit has been filed and Monique Meese, a communications director with the Secretary of State’s office, confirmed no investigation is taking place of Nethercott’s campaign finances. 

This ad also brings up that Nethercott voted for a $30,000 pay raise for the Secretary of State and has received the support of multiple Democrat state legislators.

Nethercott released her final ad of the campaign cycle on Thursday, a commercial featuring an endorsement from Diana Enzi, wife of the late U.S. Sen. Mike Enzi.

“Tara is a daughter of the Equality State and the Secretary of State we deserve. She has a history of service to Wyoming,” Enzi narrates in the ad, played over photos and video of Nethercott shown across the screen. “She is committed to fair and secure elections and a strong business environment. Join me in voting for Tara Nethercott for Wyoming Secretary of State.”

Gov. Mark Gordon hasn’t released any major campaign advertising recently but has been busy traveling across the state in recent days. Last week, he made stops in Cody, Powell, Buffalo, Worland, Basin, Ten Sleep, Big Horn, Shoshoni, Casper and Midwest.

His leading Republican opponent, Brent Bien, released a digital graphic imploring voters to “Save Wyoming from wokeism vote Bren Bien for Governor.”

Bien made campaign stops in Cody, Powell, Riverton, Lovell, Greybull, Dubois, Shoshoni and Lusk last week.

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28 Grizzlies Killed So Far This Year In Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem

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By Mark Heinz, public lands and wildlife reporter
Mark@CowboyStateDaily.com

A total of 28 grizzly bears have died, been found dead or been killed in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem so far this year.   

That includes 17 in Wyoming outside of Yellowstone National Park; 11 were killed by wildlife management agents after human-bear conflicts, according to figures from an interagency bear management team. 

Those 11 bears were killed either for preying on livestock or “food-conditioned” aggressive behavior toward humans, according to information posted online by the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team. The team is under the direction of the U.S. Geological Survey and includes members from Wyoming Game and Fish Department. 

The team’s study area includes grizzly habitat in Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks, as well as public and private lands adjacent to the parks in Wyoming, Montana and Idaho.   

The total number of grizzly deaths so far this year is roughly on par with what it was this time last year, said Jack Bayles of Team 399, a bear advocacy group that posts photographs and videos of Grizzly 399, a bruin with a worldwide fan base. Grizzly 399 gained immense popularity as one of the most highly visible bears in Grand Teton Park, as she frequently brought her cubs near busy roadways. 

Earlier this year, she separated from her latest batch of offspring – an almost unprecedented four cubs that were born in 2020. She and her cubs made headlines in July, when wildlife agents captured and killed one of those sub-adult cubs for reportedly having become too acclimated to and aggressive toward people after getting food in and around rural residential areas. 

Other causes of death listed by the interagency team included “killed by another bear.” Such was the fate of two cubs killed on May 28 in the Gibbon River area of Yellowstone Park. Male grizzlies are known to kill the offspring of other males, in hopes of breeding with the mother bears and replacing the dead cubs with their own. 

An older adult male, “in poor condition” was killed by another bear on May 5 near Reef Creek in Wyoming. 

An adult male found dead in the Crooked Creek area of Wyoming is listed as having died of natural causes. 

Eight grizzly deaths were listed as still “under investigation.” 

The first two bears listed in this year’s tally were thought to have perished sometime last year. They had “undetermined” causes of death that were not under investigation. The remains of one were discovered in May near the South Fork of the Shoshone River in Wyoming, while the remains of the other were discovered that same month near the Yellowstone River inside the park, according to the interagency team’s chart. 

And adult male was killed by a hunter on May 28 near Timber Creek in Idaho, after being mistaken for a black bear. While black bears are fair game for licensed hunters in Wyoming, Montana and Idaho, there is no legal grizzly bear hunting in the U.S. outside of Alaska. 

Grizzly deaths are frequently tied to food rewards, usually because of people being irresponsible, Bayles said. Bears can be tempted toward habituation to human-provided food sources when people fail to adequately store things such as stock feed and pet food, or don’t use bear-resistant containers for their garbage, he said. 

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Candidate Profile: Tara Nethercott For Wyoming Secretary of State

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By Leo Wolfson, political reporter
Leo@CowboyStateDaily.com

At the age of six-years old, Secretary of State candidate Tara Nethercott saw the impact of politics firsthand. Her father and the rest of the officers with the Pinedale Police Department had just been laid off. 

“We (her family) immediately lost all of our income,” Nethercott told Cowboy State Daily on Sunday. “There was no consideration for the public service of the officers who had served the community and the force for a number of years, or the families they were supporting.” 

This experience stays with Nethercott today, she said, teaching her the value of serving as a thoughtful and patient lawmaker, leaving no stone unturned when voting for and crafting legislation. 

“It’s important to have good, kind, considerate people run for office,” she said. “There are real impacts on people’s lives.”  

Nethercott, a state senator from Cheyenne, is currently engaged in a vitriolic primary race with frontrunner challenger State Rep. Chuck Gray, R-Casper. Both parties have engaged in mudslinging and personal attacks against each other.  

Many see the race as a question on whether Wyoming’s elections are secure. Nethercott has said they are and has committed to managing the state’s current elections laws. Gray said these laws need to be tightened and has committed to enacting and lobbying for stricter regulations. 

Moving Up 

Nethercott has risen through the ranks for most of her life. After graduating from Riverton High School, she attended Central Wyoming College and the University of Wyoming. At UW, she also attended the school of law, where she served as student body president. 

Following law school in 2009, Nethercott started practicing law at a Cheyenne law firm and became a partner there in 2012.  

“I just was really focused on practicing law and community involvement and issues in Cheyenne,” Nethercott said. 

In 2016, former State Sen. Tony Ross announced he would not seek reelection. After receiving some prodding from community members, Nethercott decided to make her first run at the State Legislature. 

She said the general election of that campaign, when she ran against Democrat Ken Esquibel, reminds her in some ways of her current campaign for Secretary of State. 

“My Democrat opponent had some of the same tactics,” Nethercott said. 

She won the election by more than 20% of the vote.  

Once reaching the Legislature, Nethercott requested to be put on the Corporations, Political Subdivisions and Elections Committee because of her past experience in corporate law. She has been formally trained in securities regulation and has prosecuted securities crimes. 

“I think this is where I’m most useful and what I have the most interest in,” Nethercott said. 

She was granted that request and appointed to the Judiciary Committee. She has continued serving on both committees over the past five years. 

As a member of the Judiciary Committee, Nethercott has worked on establishing enhanced penalties for child sex traffickers, Medicaid fraud, strengthening laws against government waste and abuse, anti-trust amendments against meat packers, mental health injury coverage for first responders and sponsored a Bachelor’s degree program for Wyoming community colleges, a bill Gray co-sponsored. 

Nethercott has also served on the Plan for Aging Voting Equipment (PAVE) Task Force in 2017, a group that studies options for replacing Wyoming’s voting equipment safely. 

Gray has claimed Nethercott voted against his voter ID bill in the past. Nethercott never voted on the bill prior to voting for and co-sponsoring it in 2021.  

“This is not a bill you can get wrong on the first try because the end result you will get is the wrong one, disenfranchisement of legal voters,” Nethercott explained. 

Gray and other detractors of Nethercott have used this bill to argue that she waits to support legislation until she is confident a bill will pass.  

Nethercott both voted for and against the crossover voting bill in this year’s legislature, voting for it in her last vote from the Senate floor.   

She denies the characterization that she plays politics with bills and rather, argues she is patient and methodical with the development of bills, from crafting of the first draft to legal enactment. 

“It’s easy to be responsive to immediate fears, it’s easy to look for immediate gratification but ignore larger issues at place,” she said. “I want to feel like I’m doing something where I’m getting all the facts, which then usually means I’m acting in the most responsible way of serving Wyoming.” 

In 2021 Nethercott was awarded Legislator of the Year by Wyoming County Commissioners Association and in 2020, received the Person of the Year Award by the Greater Cheyenne Chamber of Commerce. 

In May, Nethercott, 40, and Gray, 32, filed to run for Secretary of State when Ed Buchanan announced he would not run for reelection. No matter whether Nethercott or Gray win the race, Wyoming will have a young Secretary of State. 

“I think it’s good to have diversity in our elected officials,” Nethercott said. 

Current Race 

Gray has criticized Nethercott for having a lack of vision for the job because she does not want to make significant changes to current election laws and policies. 

“I’m not concerned about fraud in other states, I’m concerned about local elections,” Nethercott said. “Now, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be mindful of risks and that does not mean there can’t be challenges to how things are done in Wyoming.” 

Ballot drop boxes have been a major topic of the race as well. Gray adamantly opposes the boxes and has shown free screenings of the “2000 Mules” movie during his campaign. This movie argues that the 2020 Presidential election was fraudulent because people allegedly stuffed outdoor ballot boxes in key battleground states. 

Nethercott said Gray’s showing of this movie has sowed unwarranted doubt about the security of Wyoming’s elections. No footage from Wyoming was shown in the movie and Nethercott maintains that she does not think there is any fraud in Wyoming’s elections.  

“It’s a real disservice to undermine the public’s confidence in duly-elected county clerks,” Nethercott said. 

There were nine Wyoming counties that used ballot drop boxes during the 2020 election. Natrona County, where Gray calls home, kept theirs inside the elections office, the device was only accessible during business hours. 

Gray has clarified that although he doesn’t think Wyoming elections are currently fraudulent, he believes laws need to be enacted to keep it that way. Nethercott, in contrast, has said she wants to make the Secretary of State’s Office “boring again” by focusing on the statutory duties of the position. 

Nethercott has consistently expressed confidence in the security of Wyoming’s elections, citing the work she has done with the state’s 23 county clerks while serving on the Legislature. 

She said she would support legislation that Gray has proposed, preventing private donors like Facebook’s Mark Zuckerburg from donating funds to help the state run its elections. The funds Zuckerberg donated to Pennsylvania in 2020 were for nonpartisan, get-out-the-vote type efforts. 

But Nethercott said the Secretary of State doesn’t have the power to enact these and other changes. 

“The Secretary of State is not a lawmaker and that lies within our Wyoming Legislature,” she said during a July forum. “You have given them the power of your vote to make those laws. The Secretary of State is a rule follower, following the laws set by the Wyoming Legislature in the wake of the judicial branch, and it’s important that your Secretary of State knows that role and honors it, it is the rule of law.”  

Despite the focus on elections in this race, there are many other duties the Secretary of State is responsible for overseeing. 

The Secretary of State is responsible for all corporate formations and serves as a regulatory body for securities exchange, providing solutions to citizens who fall victim to financial fraud, the latter a sector Nethercott has about a dozen years of experience working in. The Secretary of State also serves on the State Board of Land Commissioners, State Building Commission and State Lands and Investments Board. 

Nethercott has expressed skepticism in the idea that foreign oligarchs are taking advantage of Wyoming’s lenient limited liability corporation and trust laws. The abuse of these laws was extensively detailed in a 2021 Washington Post report, which Gray has complimented. 

Gray has criticized Nethercott for receiving funding from political action committees, while he has received 95% of his campaign funding from his father.  

Nethercott has denied the categorization that she received significant amount of money from PACs. She has received $53,550 in PAC money during her campaign, 16% of her overall contributions. The Momentum 307 PAC was her biggest donor, giving her $24,000 over the course of the campaign through Aug. 9.  

Western Conservatives, a Colorado-based PAC has also supported her campaign significantly. 

Nethercott has received support from some of the biggest names in the Wyoming Legislature, with 10 current legislators, numerous former legislators and State GOP leaders donating to her campaign.  

State Sen. Dan Dockstader, R-Afton, an early candidate in the Secretary of State race, suspended his campaign in July and endorsed Nethercott. 

Also supporting Nethercott has been former Wyoming Secretary of State Max Maxfield, who filed a Federal Election Commission complaint against Gray. 

Although Gray hasn’t won as much support in the State Legislature, he has earned an endorsement from former President Donald Trump. 

Gray’s has taken notice of Nethercott’s support. He has used it to further his argument that she is part of a group of “insiders” within the State Legislature he vehemently opposes and led to his voter ID bill being shut down three times before passing.  

The “insider” accusation is one that Nethercott has responded to inconsistently throughout the campaign. After a July forum in Casper she found no fault with the description. 

“If being a fifth-generation Wyomingite who is respected then I’ll take the label,” Nethercott said. “I think that means I’m an effective lawmaker.”  

But during her Sunday interview, Nethercott said she does not consider herself to be an insider or part of the “political machine.” 

Gray has crafted campaign literature claiming Nethercott is being sued for slander and “lying” and that she is being investigated by the State of Wyoming for violating finance laws.  

Monique Meese, a communications director with the Secretary of State office, said no campaign finance investigation is taking place of Nethercott. 

Despite the nature of this race, Nethercott said she has enjoyed this campaign. 

“The experience has been humbling,” she said, expressing gratitude. “To engage with people around the state like this is something that I’ve never experienced before. It’s been overwhelming and enriching.”

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Candidate Profile: Chuck Gray For Wyoming Secretary Of State

in News/politics
Photo by Matt Idler
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By Leo Wolfson, political reporter
Leo@CowboyStateDaily.com

State Rep. Chuck Gray’s passion for politics is undeniable. As one of the youngest members of the State Legislature, the Casper lawmaker has chosen political public service as a venue for where he would like to make a difference in society.  

He spoke about his views on the current state of politics during a forum at a Boys and Girls Club in Casper Aug. 8. 

“When someone stands for the truth against the insiders, they will do anything to maintain their power, anything,” Gray told the youth audience.   

Gray’s desire to run for Secretary of State of Wyoming is built on a distrust of elections in Wyoming and America. If elected, he said he will do everything in his power to make them more secure. The Secretary of State is in charge of managing the state’s elections. 

 “Election integrity is something that’s in my blood,” he said during a July forum. 

If elected, Gray promises to ban ballot drop boxes and make ballot harvesting a felony in Wyoming. To prove the need for these actions, he has been hosting free screenings of “2000 Mules” during his campaign, a movie that claims ballot boxes were stuffed in key, swing states, leading to President Joe Biden’s illegitimate election.  

These claims, which Gray has promoted, have caused a massive schism in the Secretary of State race. Gray’s leading opponent, State Sen. Tara Nethercott, Cheyenne, has vehemently pushed back on Gray, saying there was no significant fraud in American elections in 2020. She has promoted  her past collaboration with the state’s county clerks and plans to continue the existing election laws enforced in the state. 

Nethercott supports ballot drop boxes and sees removing these devices as an infringement on the public’s right to vote. 

Gray has attacked Nethercott for being weak on election security because of this stance. He claimed in some campaign literature that Nethercott would allow insecure drop boxes in Wyoming elections if elected. Nethercott said this claim is misleading and she supports the use of outdoor ballot boxes only as long as they are supervised, and their security can be guaranteed. Gray countered again, explaining he finds all drop box ballot boxes to be insecure. 

Nine counties in Wyoming offered outdoor ballot boxes during the 2020 election. No footage from Wyoming was shown in 2000 Mules. 

 Nethercott has said the Secretary of State does not have the power to eliminate drop boxes or enact measures Gray has promised. 

“If the Secretary of State thinks they want to make a felony, then they’re running for the wrong office and need to run for the Wyoming Legislature,” she said during a July forum between the candidates. “So, if you want to ban ballot boxes, you should run for the Wyoming Legislature.”   

After the July forum, Gray clarified to Cowboy State Daily that some of his election plans would have to take place through lobbying legislators, a move Nethercott said is appropriate only under certain circumstances.  

Mudslinging between the candidates intensified since that event, with Gray’s source of financial income coming under heavy scrutiny.  

Raised For Politics

For 12 years, Natrona County Republican Women Chair Kim Walker worked for Gray’s father, Jan Charles Gray, at Mount Rushmore Broadcasting, which owns seven Wyoming radio stations.  

Chuck Gray would come out to Wyoming each summer and stay with his father while growing up. Walker chaperoned Gray a few times as a child, remarking that he didn’t seem to like Wyoming in those years.  

Chuck Gray grew up outside Los Angeles and was homeschooled by his mother, who Jan Charles Gray divorced, Walker said. During the July forum, Gray reflected on the events that led up to him living with his mother. 

“I come from a divorced family, like many people in our country,” Gray said. “A judge said I was to live in a different place, but my dad lived here, built a business here, and I spent my summers here during the time that was allocated by the judge.” 

Walker said Jan Charles Gray was obsessed with the idea of his radio station impacting legislation in Washington, D.C. 

Gray graduated high school in 2008 and was accepted into the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business. 

During the Aug. 8 forum, Gray remembered the bleak outlook on the future he felt during the 2008 economic crash, saying he was particularly disturbed by the large corporate bailouts that occurred. 

“I’ll never forget the looks on those faces of all those people studying I-banking, I really decided then I didn’t want to do it,” he said. “I wanted to be a citizen that was going to be involved in my Republic.”  

While attending the Ivy League school, Gray also wrote a political column for the school’s student newspaper, The Daily Pennsylvanian. This platform was in many ways a precursor to the political ideology he espouses today.

His writings were consistent with the conservative views and passion for politics he holds today. He expresses concern with election security, opposes Obamacare, and advises Occupy protestors to “Get Better – not bitter.” 

He also revealed a tender side in one Valentine’s Day piece, referencing a love letter former President Ronald Reagan sent to his wife Nancy Reagan. 

“Some of us may never have the extraordinary luck to find a Valentine Life,” Gray wrote. “But if it is obtained, a Valentine Life does not only last one day. A Valentine Life is forever.” 

In his biography for the paper, Gray is listed as being from Casper. 

Gray graduated from the school in 2012 with a Bachelor’s degree from the business school and another from the university’s School of Arts and Sciences.  

By 2013, Gray was living in Wyoming full time and hosting a conservative talk show on his family’s 1230 AM KVOC. During the Casper forum, Gray said it was this medium that gave him a final push into his political career. 

“Started talking about conservative issues. That got me involved in politics,” Gray said during the July forum.  

Political Life 

Gray ran for State House in 2014 against former representative Thomas Lockhart. He lost the election, but only by 49 votes to the longtime legislator. 

Lockhart retired after his next term, clearing the way for Gray to win the House District 57 seat by a healthy margin.  This district encompasses East and Central Casper. He has won every election since by a landslide. 

Gray has staked his claim in the Legislature as one of the most conservative lawmakers. He is a five-time Conservative Political Alliance Conference award winner, and has won other awards from various conservative groups.

Gray sponsored Wyoming’s first ultrasound bill in 30 years and stopped the University of Wyoming from covering abortion in their student healthcare plans with a budget amendment. For efforts like these, he was awarded the Platinum Award from Wyoming Right to Life.

“I’ve watched Chuck’s integrity,” said Rep. Mark Jennings, R-Sheridan, who has endorsed Gray’s Secretary of State campaign. “I believe he’s very sincere, very in-depth always making sure his thoughts are put together.”

Gray proposed voter ID bills in 2019 and 2020 that did not pass before the Legislature.

During the July forum, Gray expressed frustration with the “insiders” at the State Capitol who he accused of preventing his bill from getting passed. He included Nethercott in this group.

“The coalition of the Democrats and the insiders that unfortunately, do one thing in Cheyenne and then come back home and run on something different, three times in a row they stopped that bill,” he said.

With the help and collaboration of a few other legislators, Gray was able to pass his voter ID bill in 2021.

It was shortly after this success, Gray announced his candidacy for U.S. House, vowing to bring down Cheney.

Gray campaigned throughout the state that summer but failed to receive an endorsement from Former President Donald Trump, support seen by many at the time as key to beating the congresswoman. Six days after Harriet Hageman received Trump’s endorsement, Gray announced he was pulling out of the race.

“Distractions”

During the Secretary of State race, the source of Gray’s campaign funding has come into question. 

Jan Charles Gray funded nearly all of his son’s U.S. House run and gave him $500,000, 95% of his total funding, for his current Secretary of State campaign. 

Gray’s father also poured $50,000 into Gray’s State House campaign a few days after the legislator announced he was forgoing that seat to run for Secretary of State.

In an interview with Cowboy State Daily Wednesday, Gray said he is grateful for his family and the help they’ve provided him.

“I’m grateful to my family for stepping up to counter these liberal attacks with funds from family businesses that I helped to build,” he said. “Family business is key to Wyoming’s success and people in family businesses should be able to run for office.”

Walker said Mt. Rushmore Broadcasting had a long history of not paying debts, souring many people’s impression of Jan Charles Gray. 

In 2016, The FCC fined the station $25,000 in 2016 for not staffing the stations during business hours.

The company was also ordered to pay back wages in 2015 to former employees, after it was sued by the U.S. Department of Labor. 

“People in small business, we don’t have a lot of salary, our income is off our business,” Gray said during an Aug. 8 forum. 

Mt. Rushmore received more than $28,000 in federal dollars through the federal COVID-19 relief Paycheck Protection Program but Gray voted this year against a bill allowing the state to spend pandemic relief funds.

Despite only making around $10,000 a year working at the radio station, and only a slightly higher annual wage working at the State Legislature, Gray made a nearly $300,000 donation to his own U.S. House campaign fund. He has said this money came as the result of an inheritance from his grandfather and has denied all allegations of fraudulent activity.  

“Those funds were my funds,” he said during the forum last Monday. “Shame on Ms. Nethercott for taking advantage politically of my grandfather’s passing. I’m not taking money from PACs like my opponent. I’m not bought and they know that.”  

Jennings said he finds it hypocritical that many people expressed support in 2016 for former President Donald Trump self-funding most of his presidential campaign, but now those same people are attacking Gray for doing the same thing. 

Gray framed himself as coming from a small family business background during the Aug. 8 forum. He has described questions about his finances as a distraction from the race and a way to avoid looking at Nethercott’s voting record. 

In addition to overseeing elections, the Secretary of State registers and authorizes all businesses operating in the state. It also regulates the state’s securities industry and enforces securities law and serves on the State Board of Land Commissioners, State Building Commission, State Loan and Investment Board and serves as chair of the State Canvassing Board. 

“I define economic development … in terms of funding key infrastructure projects that our state needs so that our communities continue to grow around them,” Gray said during the July forum. Gray said he doesn’t view economic development as picking winners and losers, which he said “insiders” are guilty of.

Gray has kept a contentious relationship with the media throughout the campaign, only responding to questions by text messages and accusing the Casper Star Tribune and Cowboy State Daily of conspiring against him. 

Last week, Gray received Trump’s backing in his Secretary of State campaign, an endorsement that he has sought since his 2021 U.S. House campaign. Like Trump, Gray has sowed doubt about the security of America’s elections. But during the July forum, Gray explained that he sees many of his future plans as ways to get ahead of a problem. 

“We need someone that is going to be vibrantly getting things done,” Gray said during the Casper forum. “Not someone who says, ‘everything’s fine, let’s look away.’”

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Only Ketamine Clinic in Wyoming Helps Residents with Chronic Pain and Mental Health

in News/Health care
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By Joshua Wood, tourism/business reporter
josh@cowboystatedaily.com

Wyoming residents may not know it, but they might have more options to treat mental health problems than they realize. A drug used as an anesthetic on battlefields is now being used to fight another battle, one which is claiming more Wyoming lives per capita than in any other state. 

Used in lower doses, Ketamine—an anesthetic with dissociative effects—can help with major depressive disorders and prevent suicide according to Harvard Health. Wyoming’s suicide rate is 31 per 100,000 people, making it higher per capita than any other state in the nation according to the Centers for Disease Control.

For more than two years, the Jackson Hole Ketamine Clinic has offered low-dose infusions of the anesthetic to patients who struggle with mental health or chronic pain. It is the first—and only—clinic of its kind in Wyoming and is operated by Aimee Recette and her business partner, Joseph Raboin.

A nurse anesthetist with 20 years of experience, Racette’s primary job is anesthesia at the surgical clinic in Jackson. Raboin is also a nurse anesthetist.

‘You Need To Do This’

Racette moved to Jackson four years ago. She fell in love with the community and wanted to find a business that would allow her to give back.

“I had some colleagues I used to work with in Denver that had started a ketamine clinic, so I went and shadowed them for a little over a year,” said Racette. “I thought it was going to be my colleagues that were going to talk me into starting a ketamine clinic.”

Instead, it was her colleagues’ patients and their families who encouraged her to open a similar clinic in Wyoming. Racette said patients told her how appreciative they were of the treatment and how it helped them.

“Seeing wives saying they were so happy to have their husbands back, they were the ones who were really saying ‘You need to do this for your state’,” said Racette.

When Racette met Raboin, she discovered he was also interested in opening a ketamine clinic. After some discussion, the two went into business together.

Helping Right Away

Wyoming’s first ketamine clinic opened just as Jackson was shut down by the pandemic.

“We were very nervous about that but it actually turned out to be a benefit to us,” Racette said. “COVID brought up so much depression and anxiety in people in our community that it was great that we were actually there to be able to help people starting right then.”

That was two and a half years ago. Now the ketamine clinic has appointments booked months in advance and sees patients from Jackson with other patients coming from Pinedale, Lander and even the neighboring states of Idaho and Montana, said Racette.

Relief With Ketamine

Ketamine itself isn’t a new drug. Along with being used as an anesthetic on battlefields and in operating rooms, it has also been used to treat patients with chronic pain and fibromyalgia.

According to Harvard Health, racemic ketamine—which is given as an infusion in the bloodstream—has been used as an off-label treatment for a type of major depression known as Treatment-Resistant Depression for the past decade.

This severe depression is not improved through conventional means such as traditional antidepressants, which can take weeks or months to become effective, according to news-medical.net. It can also be used for anxiety linked to depression, according to Harvard Health.

Studies have shown a low-dose infusion of ketamine can relieve symptoms of depression within hours.

It is not known exactly how ketamine works on depression other than its antidepressant effect where other treatments have failed. According to an article from Harvard Health, one way ketamine may work in addressing depression is through improving communication in the brain. Another way is through reducing signals related to inflammation, which has been linked to some mood disorders.

Racette said about 90% of the patients seen at Jackson Hole Ketamine Clinic are there for mental health. The other 10% visit for help with chronic pain.

“Most of our chronic pain patients are able to decrease the dose of the narcotic that they’re taking by about 75%,” said Racette. “They’re actually able to not have all the side-effects of the narcotic and that even helps with their mental health, not being beholden to opioids.”

In the case of mental health patients, Racette said the majority are those with Treatment-Resistant Depression. The clinic also treats Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Bipolar Disorder and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Because depression and anxiety are the bulk of their mental health patients, Racette said most report they are able to stop taking their antidepressant or anti-anxiety medication.

“The majority of our patients report to us that they have felt better than they can remember ever feeling,” said Racette. “Most of our patients that have severe anxiety have trouble holding down a job, having relationships, or even just being able to find a ride to and from the clinic.”

Following their initial therapy, Racette said, patients return three to five months later completely different than when they first visited the clinic.

“They have a smile on their face, they’re talking about new relationships, rafting trips they’ve gone on with friends, a new job that they have,” said Racette. “It’s so rewarding to see how it just completely changes their life.”

How The Clinic Works

Potential patients can refer themselves to the Jackson Hole Ketamine Clinic, but the clinic will need confirmation from a medical provider of a mental health diagnosis. Because both Racette and Raboin are nurse anesthetists, they cannot make a mental health diagnosis.

A medical screening is also conducted to determine if ketamine will work for the patient. Some patients may have health conditions in which ketamine may be harmful rather than helpful, said Racette.

If ketamine is determined to be beneficial, patients will go through six 40-minute infusions over a two to three week period. During that time, said Racette, the only side effects are feelings of nausea or motion sickness. Some patients have reported feeling lethargic for the rest of the day following the infusion, but recover by the next day.

“After that time, patients come back on an as needed basis,” said Racette. “The majority of our patients come back for one infusion every three to five months but we also have patients that don’t have to come back for nine months or longer.”

The cost for infusions are out-of-pocket, said Racette. Insurance companies don’t yet cover ketamine treatments. While the clinic has been able to create a detailed invoice for patients to submit to their insurance provider for reimbursement with some success, she said it is dependent on the provider.

An Integrated Approach

While it is not required, Racette said the Jackson Hole Ketamine Clinic “highly recommends” patients are under the care of a therapist while undergoing their infusions.

“Those are our patients that have been most successful with the treatment,” said Racette. “When it’s an integration of eating well, exercising, doing talk therapy and having the ketamine infusion.”

There is one business in Torrington which also does ketamine infusions, but the treatment is one of multiple offerings from Wyoming Wellness Center. The clinic in Jackson is the only ketamine clinic in the state.

Though a search can bring up listings of other ketamine clinics in Wyoming—such as Lyman, Casper, Cheyenne, Gillette and Laramie—no physical addresses or phone numbers are provided. In the case of Clinic Ketamine of Lyman, potential patients would have to go to Texas for infusions.

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Speaker Of The House Battles Write-In Candidate For Vacant Senate Seat In Northeast Wyoming

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By Clair McFarland, Cowboy State Daily
Clair@CowboyStateDaily.com

An established legislative leader and a determined write-in candidate are vying for the State Senate District 23 seat, for Campbell and Converse Counties, in Tuesday’s Republican Primary Election.    

Speaker of the Wyoming House of Representatives, Rep. Eric Barlow, R-Gillette, announced his resignation from the House last year. By this spring, he had announced his run for the Senate seat, for which Republican incumbent Sen. Jeff Wasserburger has chosen not to run.   

Write-in candidate Patricia Junek is challenging Barlow. She also lives in Gillette and describes herself as a solid conservative.   

Junek said she never intended to run for office, but has been displeased with Barlow’s voting record.  She said legislator-ranking site Wyorino.com shows Barlow as voting along the Republican Party platform about 10% of the time throughout his career.    

She said voters in the region noticed her while she was volunteering as an activist for election integrity bills in the Wyoming Legislature.    

“People… asked me to run,” said Junek. “At first I said ‘no,’ over and over, and in the end, when no one else filed to run against Barlow, we just could not let him go unopposed.”    

Transgender Legislation   

Specifically, Junek disputed Barlow’s vote not to introduce the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act on the final Tuesday of the legislative session in March. The bill would have barred biological males from competing in girls’ school sports.    

Junek believes Barlow’s position, that there wasn’t enough time to cultivate the bill, was an excuse for what she called a pattern of “not representing the people of Wyoming.”   

“In my doorbell campaigning, maybe 98% of the people I talked to, hands down, believe that boys should not be competing in girls’ sports,” said Junek.    

‘Not A Vote On The Merits’   

Barlow did not return two voicemails and an email requesting comment.    

However, another House Rep. Ember Oakley, R-Riverton, told Cowboy State Daily that for many of the 37 representatives voting not to introduce the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act, including herself, the vote was about deadlines.    

“There is an agreed-upon deadline between the House and the Senate in which to consider bills,” said Oakley, adding that deadlines are “especially important” in the shorter budget sessions occurring on even-numbered years. In the year following a census, legislators also have a duty to approve a re-districting of the legislative voter districts.    

“Based on both very real-time limitations and statutory deadlines, legislators will vote ‘nay’ on the further introduction of bills,” Oakley continued. “It is not a vote on the merits of the bill; often (the bills) are good. This is a basic function of the Legislature – and to assert that many of these bills were voted against because of the content of them is false.”   

Oakley looks forward personally to working on the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act in the upcoming legislative session, which begins in January.    

Sen. Wendy Schuler, R-Evanston, who sponsored the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act, wrote a March op-ed in Cowboy State Daily calling its failure “disappointing.” As it stands, the Wyoming High School Athletics Association has a permissive appeals process by which transgender students can compete in the sport of their choice.   

Small Government   

Junek describes herself as an advocate for small government who is also “pro-life, pro-God, pro-Second Amendment and pro-family.”    

She would not vote for Medicaid expansion, Junek added.    

“It would take a lot for me to ever vote to increase government reach into our personal lives,” she said.    

Junek is a retired small-business owner and college instructor. Her former business, a cleaning business, grew from 500 customers when she bought it to 5,000 customers when it was sold.  She and her husband Mark now own The Lodge – A Wyoming Man’s Salon, in Gillette.  

Junek learned about how burdensome “government overreach” can be while running her business, she said.   

She has lived in Wyoming for eight years and in Gillette for six. She is originally from the eastern portion of Washington state, but said she’s always been a Wyomingite in her heart.    

“My entire adult life, my conservative views in any state or national election didn’t matter, didn’t count,” she said. “So I was thrilled and excited to move to Wyoming, to a state that represented who I have always been.”    

Junek said she has no agenda except to serve the people of Wyoming.    

“I am simply trying to step up and give voters a choice,” she said.    

One Decade In   

Barlow was first elected to the House in 2012 and has been serving since 2013. He was assigned to chair his first committee in 2017 and has held multiple leadership posts since. He became Speaker of the House – the chamber’s highest rank – in 2021.    

He is a veterinarian and rancher by trade and served as a US Marine in the Cold War era, from 1984-1988. 

Barlow co-sponsored several bills this year and last. Some of these include:   

A bill to decriminalize and cultivate medical marijuana;    

A bill requiring employers to extend COVID-19 vaccine mandate exemptions to their employees;   

A bill making it a felony to ingest methamphetamine while pregnant;    

A bill expanding the state’s ability to fight the federal government’s actions to stifle the coal industry;     

A bill banning abortionists from providing abortions solely because of fetal disabilities or abnormalities, the baby’s sex, race, or ancestry. (This bill was crafted before it was constitutionally possible to ban abortion outright.)   

These did not pass, but one of Barlow’s sponsored bills, House Bill 123, requiring the environmental quality council to establish rules for uses and disposal of waste in non-coal mining sites did pass this year, and has become law.    

Another bill co-sponsored by Barlow that passed was House Bill 82, which extends Wyoming veteran honorable-discharge benefits to military veterans who were discharged from the service for refusing to take the COVID-19 vaccination.    

Barlow voted in favor of Wyoming’s trigger ban, that is, a ban on nearly all abortions. The trigger ban couldn’t pass into law until the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe vs. Wade in June.    

Although deemed legal by the Wyoming Attorney General and certified by the governor in late July, the state’s trigger ban has now been paused as a coalition of abortion advocates are challenging its constitutionality in Teton County District Court.    

“If elected I will continue listening, learning, and finding solutions that serve your needs, and Wyoming’s best interests,” Barlow wrote on his Facebook campaign page.    

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Wyoming Man Recalls Career As Navigator In 2,000mph SR-71 Aircraft

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By Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily 

“The SR-71 is the fastest and highest-flying airplane in the world.”

No one knows better the thrill of flying in the Air Force’s most powerful aircraft than Ranchester resident Ted Ross. Ross was a navigator in the SR-71 program from 1982 to 1987.

Born and raised in Twin Falls, Idaho, Ross majored in mathematics at the local junior college before enlisting in the Air Force in the early 1970s. The military sent him to Fort Collins, Colorado to finish his degree. 

“As I was getting ready to graduate from Fort Collins (in 1973), I took the pilot’s exam,” Ross said. “I scored really high, but I had 20/40 vision.” 

Ross said the Air Force gave him another option, and it changed the course of his life. 

“They said, ‘We’re not granting any medical waivers, but you can be a navigator,’” he said. “And I said, ‘What does that involve?’ And they said, ‘It involves a lot of math.’ I said, ‘Well, I have an associate degree in math. I like math.’” 

Because the flight pay was the same, and he’d be in the airplane with the pilot, he didn’t hesitate. 

“I said, ‘Well, what do you have to do?’ ‘Oh, well, you have to go out to Sacramento, California, and you have to go to school for a whole year.’ And I said, ‘Well, you know, I’m coming from Idaho. I hear the weather’s pretty good in California. I think you better sign me up for that right away.’”  

Ross was trained as a reconnaissance systems officer, or RSO, for the SR-71 and other high-tech planes, such as the B-2 stealth bomber, the U-2, and the FB-111. 

“The FB-111 is very, very similar to the F-14 that Tom Cruise was flying In the first Top Gun,” he said. “This is the one airplane that I really do miss the most.”  

From the FB-111, Ross said it was an easy transition to the SR-71, part of the Blackbird family of aircraft. In 1981, Ross applied for and was accepted into the program. 

“It’s a week-long – not a full astronaut physical, but way more than a normal flight- physical,” he said. “They x-rayed every joint in my entire body. There’s a psychiatrist interview to make sure your ego’s not too big, and you’re not going to do something crazy in the airplane, because these are national assets.” 



The SR-71 Program 

The SR-71 (the SR stands for Strategic Reconnaissance) was designed for flight at speeds of over Mach 3. The two-person flight crew consisted of the pilot in the forward cockpit, and the RSO operating the surveillance systems and equipment from the rear, as well as directing navigation. 

Finished aircraft were painted a dark blue, almost black, which led to the aircraft’s nickname, “Blackbird.” Its combination of high altitude and very high speed made the aircraft almost invulnerable.  

Ross explained that the SR-71 aircraft is 107 feet long and 54 feet wide, with rudders 19 feet tall.  

“We carried 80,000 pounds of gas, and the airplane empty only weighed 60,000 pounds,” he said. “So it was just like a giant fuel tank with two rocket engines.” 

Ross said the plane is made of 95% titanium for a specific reason. 

“Titanium is like gold,” he said. “When it heats up, it purifies itself and gets stronger. So the more we flew the airplanes, the stronger they got.” 

Power, Speed, Accuracy Of SR-71 

Ross said the afterburners are where the Blackbird’s power really kicks in. 

“At speed and altitude, both engines are doing over 2 million horsepower,” he said. 

Ross said flying the SR-71 required a great deal of focus, which is why he spent hundreds of hours in the simulator before he even had his first flight. 

“You really had to pay attention when you’re going 2000 miles an hour,” Ross said. “That’s a half a mile a second. So that’s basically across the whole United States in just barely over an hour, California to London in four hours, California to Japan in six hours.” 



At those speeds, you’ve got to trust your pilot, said Ross. 

“The reason that you always fly with the same pilot in the SR-71, is because when you’re traveling 2000 miles an hour, half a mile a second, seven and a half minutes across the state of Nebraska, you’re probably only gonna get one chance to make a decision,” he said. “So you have to do it right the first time.” 

Ross said the SR-71’s navigation system had phenomenal accuracy. 

“In the five years that I flew the SR-71, even 2000 miles an hour and above 80,000 feet, the most I was ever off was 162 ½ feet,” he said. “And because of that accuracy, we routinely flew the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea, which was our primary mission out of Okinawa.”  

Ross said the SR-71 was the only airplane allowed to fly in the buffer zone between East and West Germany, before the countries reunited. 

“I’ve seen Austria and Switzerland from 15 miles looking down,” he said, “and it’s awful, awful pretty.”  



SR-71 Program Retired 

Ross said the SR-71 was retired in the late 1980s, but General Norman Schwarzkopf insisted on its return, temporarily, in 1995. 

He said the general was frustrated at the limited scope of other surveillance aircraft. 

“He said, ‘I need to see the whole entire country, what will do that?’” Ross said. “‘Well, sir, only the SR-71 will give you 100,000 square miles an hour with the optical bar camera.’ And so against the Department of Defense wishes, he forced them to bring the SR back in 95. 

But that didn’t last long. 

“It was basically $6 million a year and NASA wanted to do something else with the money, so (in 1998) the SR stopped flying,” Ross said. “And they started dispersing the airplanes to museums, so they’re all on display.” 

Transitioning From the SR71 

When the military made the decision to reduce the SR-71 program in 1987, Ross transitioned to other high-tech aircraft programs.  

“I was in the B-1 for three years, ‘87 to ‘90,” Ross said, “and during that time, I was consulting for the B-2 program because of my SR-71 experience, and being in the B-1.” 

Ross was the sixth person hired to fly the B-2, which was a stealth bomber jet shaped like a jagged triangle. 

“In 1990, I got orders to go to Omaha for the B-2 program as the weapons systems officer,” he said – although he never got the chance to fly in the actual stealth bomber – instead, his orders were to help re-engineer the aircraft. 

“As soon as I walked in the B-2 office, they said the general wants to see you upstairs,” Ross said. “And I thought, ‘I’ve only been here like 15 minutes, how can I already be in trouble?’ And he told me, ‘Northrop Grumman has the B-2 all goofed up, and I need you to go out to Los Angeles every other week and yell at them and make it a bomber for their strategic air command.’”  

In 1992, when the B2 program was moved from Omaha to Langley, Ross transitioned to the U-2 program at Beale Air Force Base. 

“The U-2 is a 50s design, but it’s been continually been modernized,” he said. “And it flies every day more than it flew the day before all around the world, because they have the ability now to move the intelligence data off the airplane via satellite, bring it back, process it and send it wherever it needs to be in nanoseconds.” 



Sharing His Story 

Ross has kept as many mementos of his 28 years in the Air Force as he can, given the classified nature of many of his missions.  

“This is the astronaut food that we ate,” he said. “In the helmet, there’s a little food port right here, and it would puncture the top of the tube and then you could eat whatever. I always carried peaches because it was the highest in sugar.” 

Using books and a few models of the planes that he flew, along with a power point presentation, Ross shares his experiences with local organizations. Although he couldn’t keep what he calls his “astronaut” suit, Ross has photos and a scale model of the gear he had to wear while flying in the SR-71. 

“Everybody has to have those,” he said. “And they were about $300,000 apiece.” 

But he does have the helmet that he wore during his years in the SR71 program. 

“My T38 SR-71 helmet is very similar to the helmet that Tom Cruise wore in Top Gun,” Ross said, “except in the latest Top Gun, he was wearing a gray helmet, and it’s lightweight. The reason I got to keep this one is because the Air Force went to those gray helmets, so I got to keep my old white helmet.”  

Moving to Wyoming 

Ross and his wife, Barbara, moved to Ranchester in 2018 from Beale Air Force Base in California, where the SR-71 and the U-2 airplanes are both based.  

“I had been researching for about three years and Wyoming kept coming up at the top of the list,” he said. “We bought the house, and were able to move in the fall of 2018.”  

In a career spanning decades, Ross said he never enjoyed a time so much as when he was a navigator in the cockpit of one of the world’s most powerful airplanes. 

“We would look over at each other, and we would be grinning, and it’s like, we cannot believe they’re paying us to have this much fun,” he said. “Yeah, let’s go lower, let’s go faster.” 

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Poop-Smearing Homeless Man Arrested For Setting Man On Fire In Cheyenne

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By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily

A homeless man, who had a prior run-in with an art gallery owner for smearing his poop on a statue, was arrested early Sunday morning for allegedly setting another man on fire at Martin Luther King Park in west Cheyenne.

The Cheyenne Police Department said Kenneth Potter, who is listed as a transient in the police report, was found with a knife and lighters in his possession shortly after they discovered another man who was suffering from severe burn injuries.

Police say the victim was sleeping at Martin Luther King Park when Potter stood over him and began “setting him on fire.”

“The victim began to stand up and dropped a knife which the suspect grabbed and threatened him with,” a spokesperson with the Cheyenne Police Department said.

The victim was transported by ambulance to Cheyenne Regional Medical Center for treatment.

Poop-Smearer

Potter is no stranger to Cheyenne art gallery owner Harvey Deselms.

Deselms told Cowboy State Daily that he had a run-in with Potter right before Cheyenne Frontier Days.

Potter was climbing one of Deselms’ statues in front of his art gallery, which is located in downtown Cheyenne.

When Deselms asked him to get down from the statue, Potter began smearing his own poop on the statue instead.

“He began finger-painting the statue with his own poop and I was really not pleased with that,” Deselms said.

“I was not very kind in telling him to get out of my sight because I was calling the police right away,” he said.

Deselms said the “poop-etrator,” as the art dealer calls him, was never caught by the police.

He went on to say that the statue was not permanently damaged by the poop. “All it took was a hose,” Deselms said.

“That was my first poop incident here at the gallery and hopefully the last,” he added.

The aggravated assault charge is under investigation.

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In Last Ad Of Primary Election Cycle, Cheney Asks Citizens To Join In Fight Against Trump

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By Leo Wolfson, political reporter
Leo@CowboyStateDaily.com

In her last ad of the primary election cycle, Wyoming’s U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney never directly asked people to vote for her. She does ask them to join in her fight against former President Donald Trump.  

“We are stronger, more dedicated, and more determined than those trying to destroy our Republic,” Cheney said in the ad released last Thursday. “This is our great task and we will prevail. I hope you will join me in this fight.” 

Trump is the focal point of the commercial, and in many ways, has been the focus of her entire U.S. House reelection campaign. Cheney has repeatedly referred to standing up for the Constitution as her motivation to speak out against Trump while representing a state he won by a larger margin than any other in the 2020 election. 

The ad is called “The Great Task,” sharing a similar title to the Great Task Political Action Committee, which has raised money on her behalf during the current campaign. 



In the ad, Cheney criticizes Trump’s attempts to overturn the 2020 election. 

“America cannot remain free if we abandon the truth,” Cheney said. “The lie that 2020 presidential election was stolen is insidious. It preys on those who love their country.” 

Never mentioned in the commercial is Cheney’s lead opponent, Harriet Hageman. 

Hageman has been endorsed by Trump and has fully embraced his platform, recently announcing for the first time at a forum that she believes the 2020 election was rigged. 

““Absolutely the election was rigged. It was rigged to make sure that President (Donald) Trump could not get reelected,” Hageman said during the event hosted by the Natrona County Republican Women Aug. 3. 

Choosing to not mention one’s opponent, while referencing a third party not running in the race, is a mostly unprecedented political move, particularly in a candidate’s final messaging of their campaign. 

Cheney has spoken against Trump since he started questioning the results of the 2020 election. She is currently serving as vice chair of the Jan. 6 Committee. 

“I will work everyday to ensure that our exceptional nation long endures,” Cheney said in the ad. “My children and your children must grow up in an America where we have honorable and peaceful transitions of power. Not violent confrontations, intimidation, and thuggery.” 

Towards the end of the two-minute-and-20-second commercial, Cheney tries to bridge a connection with Democrats and Independents for her cause. 

“No matter how long we must fight, this is a battle we will win. Millions of Americans across our nation – Republicans, Democrats, Independents – stand united in the cause of freedom,” she said. 

Cheney has been encouraging Democrats to change their party affiliation to vote for her in the Republican primary.  

A recent University of Wyoming poll shows that she has been unsuccessful with gaining the support of a large majority of Independent voters, a demographic UW Political Science professor Jim King finds key to her chance of reelection. 

Last week on Fox News the Cheney team started airing a different ad.  It featured an endorsement from her father, former Vice President Dick Cheney. In the ad, Dick Cheney refers to Trump as a “coward.” 

“It’s important not only for Fox News viewers, but for the network’s hosts and top executives, to hear former Vice President Cheney’s warning about the ongoing danger Donald Trump and his lies pose to our constitutional republic,” Cheney spokesman Jeremy Adler said in a press release. 

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Wyoming Gas Map: Monday, August 15, 2022

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By Tim Mandese, Cowboy State Daily 

Wyoming’s average price per gallon of $4.05, is down 1 cents from our last report of $4.06 on Thursday.    

The website GasBuddy.com, which tracks national gas prices, reported Wyoming’s average gas price is down 9 cents from a week ago, and is up, 49 cents per gallon from one year ago.      

Wyoming’s average price for gasoline remained above the national average of $3.92.    

High and Low Prices:      

The highest reported gasoline price in Wyoming on Monday was in Moose at the Phillips 66, 12170 Doran Rd, at $5.79 per gallon. The lowest price in Wyoming was in Casper, with multiple locations reporting $3.25 per gallon.     

The highest county average is in Teton County, with an average of $4.84 per gallon. The county with the lowest average, is Natrona County, with $3.36. These are the highest and lowest reported prices among those stationed surveyed.      

*The average price per gallon of regular in each Wyoming county:  

Albany $3.79; Big Horn $4.46; Campbell $3.52; Carbon $4.12; Converse $4.07; Crook $4.10; Fremont $4.31; Goshen $4.21; Hot Springs $4.07; Johnson $4.21; Laramie $3.98; Lincoln $4.83; Natrona $3.36; Niobrara $4.10; Park $4.44; Platte $4.10; Sheridan $4.13; Sublette $4.10; Sweetwater $3.99; Teton $4.84; Uinta $4.40; Washakie $4.10; Weston: $4.09

*The lowest price per gallon, reported in major Wyoming cities: 

Basin $4.45; Buffalo $4.12; Casper $3.25; Cheyenne $3.69; Cody $4.25; Douglas $3.98; Evanston $4.32; Gillette $3.45; Jackson $4.78; Kemmerer $4.32; Laramie $3.57; Lusk $3.84; Newcastle $3.89; Pinedale $4.10; Rawlins $3.99; Riverton $4.24; Rock Springs $3.69; Sheridan $3.95; Sundance $4.09; Thermopolis $4.06; Wheatland $4.59; Worland $4.46

Want to help us gather the most accurate gas prices for this report? Consider downloading the GasBuddy app and submit the gas prices in your area.  

*Note: Prices in this report are for reference only. They are gathered just prior to posting, and may not reflect prices that have changed since last posted.  

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Al Franken Endorses Liz Cheney, Hilarity Ensues

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By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily

It’s a weird conclusion to a weird congressional race.

Former U.S. Sen. Al Franken on Saturday announced he was endorsing Wyoming’s Liz Cheney in her re-election bid.

While doing so, the longtime comedian and one of the most liberal members of Congress in his short-lived stint in public service, said sarcastically that his endorsement will certainly boost Cheney’s campaign.

“I’ve decided to endorse Liz Cheney for the Republican nomination for the House seat In Wyoming,” Franken tweeted.  “It’s my first time endorsing in a GOP primary. But I think Al Franken’s support will carry a lot of weight with WY Republicans.”

Franken, who had a more successful career on Saturday Night Live than he did in the U.S. Senate, lasted 10 years in Congress resigning in early 2018 after sexual misconduct allegations.

Not surprisingly, Cheney did not retweet his support although many Republicans did and not in flattering ways.

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, who has already endorsed Cheney challenger Harriet Hageman, said “Kinda says it all,” in his retweet.

Conservative columnist Kurt Schlichter acknowledged the endorsement as well prefacing his retweet by saying, “Noted sexual harasser makes his choice.”



While Sirius XM radio host and fellow comedian Tim Young tweeted the photo which doomed Franken along with the words “That’s a very gripping endorsement, Al.”

The primary election in Wyoming is on Tuesday, August 16.

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House District 3: Open Seat Battle In Gillette Between Rusty Bell And Abby Angelos

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By Leo Wolfson, political reporter
Leo@CowboyStateDaily.com

The race for House District 3 in Gillette is like many others throughout the state, an election between a more experienced politician and anti-establishment candidate.

“I’m not involved with a lobbyist and I’m not “experienced” in politics,” Republican challenger Abby Angelos said.

It’s a sentiment shared by a number of candidates statewide this year, promoting their lack of political experience as a reason why voters should elect them.

Angelos considers herself a “statesman” rather than a politician.

“Politicians are only looking to the next election, where a statesman is looking to the future,” she said.

Angelos is taking on challenger Rusty Bell, a current Campbell County commissioner,  in the Aug. 16 primary. Current HD 3 Republican Rep. Eric Barlow is running for the State Senate.

Both Bell and Angelos are Gillette natives.

The Candidates

Bell, a taxidermist, is also a member of the Wyoming Game and Fish Wildlife Task Force. He is a founding member of the Wyoming Sportsmans Group non-profit, a member of the Campbell County DUI Taskforce and Co-chair of the Governor’s Council for Impaired Driving. He is also on a business committee for the Campbell County Chamber of Commerce.

“I’ve worked on a lot of individual or bills related to this experience through the legislature,” he said.

Bell has provided assistance to legislators on the severance tax reduction for the coal industry and the 90/10 once in a lifetime change for moose, sheep, mountain goat, bison and grizzly bear hunting tags.  

Currently, the Task Force is also considering 90/10 license allocations for nonresident elk, deer and antelope tags in harder-to-draw areas, which are those with a 30% chance or less drawing odds. There has also been consideration for a weighted bonus point system for drawing moose and bighorn sheep licenses.  If initiated, this would broaden the opportunity for more people to have a chance at drawing one of the most coveted licenses — even those with fewer preference points.

These issues have been highly contentious, drawing more than 4,000 comments from the public.

“Sometimes what people want is the status quo,” he said.

Bell is also a member of the Wyoming County Commissioners Association (WCCA) Executive Board and a chair on the WCCA’s Revenue Committee.

“I’m just experienced,” he said. “I’ve got the demeanor and temperament to help Campbell County work through some of the issues.”

Angelos runs a gunsmithing and firearms business with her husband in Gillette. 

“My reason for running comes down to what does the future of Campbell County and Wyoming look like?” Angelos questioned. “Will the Wyoming way of life and our conservative values be protected for not only my children but all our children?”

Angelos, a mother of three, said she is concerned about “radical” gender ideology, Critical Race Theory, the war on fossil fuels and too much dependence on federal funds, in Wyoming’s future.

Angelos has expressed some strong views on her campaign Facebook page. She has attacked the Wyoming Education Association and said in one post that “the family unit (is) being destroyed by media, some radicals in education and government policies.”

Angelos is firmly pro-life and has an endorsement from Wyoming Right To Life. She also has been endorsed by Gun Owners of America. 

She was one of many candidates targeted statewide in an ad campaign put out by the Western Conservatives political action committee, which accused her of being “All Hat, No Cattle,” lacking a voting record on taxes, spending or parental control in education.

“Of course, candidates have every right to compare and contrast themselves to their opponent, but these mailers were absurd, reckless, and potentially offensive,” Angelos said in a Facebook post. 

She said Bell personally reached out to her and apologized for the mailers and said he had nothing to do with this campaign.

Business/Energy

Angelos said she wants to cut business regulation and continue to harness Campbell County’s large energy industries.

“Wyoming has the benefit of low taxes due to the extraction industries and is the home of the hardest working people,” she said. “Lower taxes, less government regulation and less red tape. Simple, let’s keep the government and regulations out of the way to allow Wyoming residents to start those small businesses that drive an economy.”

Angelos said she differs from Bell on fiscal responsibility and depending on federal funds.

“We have become so dependent on federal funds and we are now seeing the current administration dictate how we use those funds, we all know (Washington) D.C. does not share Wyoming’s values and every time we take federal funds we tie a string right back to D.C. to dictate how they want us to use them,” she said.

Although Bell acknowledges the world is starting to move away from coal, he said it will continue to be a necessary fossil fuel in America’s long term future. 

“Coal and natural gas are really vital for the U.S. power grid,” he said.

Bell is optimistic about the future of coal and said carbon capture and sequestration, carbon dioxide storage, and hydrogen energy could all provide many opportunities for Wyoming.

“Wyoming can continue to lead in all energy categories,” he said.

Bell said if elected, he will continue to work on alleviating burdens on the mining industry and its infrastructure,  a matter he has testified before the joint minerals committee on. 

Although he supports green energy and said the global marketplaces is moving to support these industries, he said there needs to be a better system put in place for storing these alternative types of power before Wyoming and the country can become too dependent on those sources.

Angelos does not want the state to move away from its dependence on fossil fuels for revenue, a source for about 50% of Wyoming’s income. 

“There is nothing wrong with being reliant on fossil fuels, they are needed and our current power grid cannot survive without them,” she said. “No one in the country does fossil fuels cleaner, more efficiently, and better than our Wyoming residents that work in the industries.” 

Education

Bell said he would consider consolidating smaller school districts in Wyoming. A recent study found these consolidation efforts would save the state around $13 million.

“That’s a lot of money,” Bell said.

Angelos opposes the teaching of CRT and gender ideology in Wyoming’s schools.

“I have been talking with hundreds of parents in my district and they are concerned about this political ideology,” Angelos said. “We are all created equally with the same opportunities. Teaching our young people that some are privileged because of skin color and some will never be able to make anything of themselves because all of society is racist and against them is wrong.”

She said tackling gender ideology in schools will be a priority for her if elected. In 2021, a transgender magician was prevented from performing a show at a Gillette library.

“This entire push to teach radical gender ideology to children should be left up to parents at home, not the schools,” Angelos said.

She also supports the “Fairness in Women’s Sports Act,” a bill proposed in this year’s legislature that would have made it illegal for youth athletes to compete in a sport opposite from the gender of their  birth. The bill passed the State Senate but was not considered in the House.

“This had support from both sides of the aisle and we need to pass legislation to protect our students, some of whom are sisters, daughters, granddaughters, and nieces,” Angelos said.

Bell said he wants to protect education but make budget cuts possible. He is concerned about the exodus of young people leaving the state each year.

“We can’t continue to export that,” he said. “It’s detrimental for Wyoming. We have to keep that in Wyoming.”

There is no Democratic candidate running in this race.

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Wyoming Legislators Say Chuck Gray Is Wrongly Taking Credit For Voter ID Bill

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By Leo Wolfson, political reporter
Leo@CowboyStateDaily.com

Two Wyoming legislators are speaking out against Secretary of State candidate Chuck Gray’s claims that Gray was the reason a voter ID bill passed in 2021. 

Gray, a Republican representative from Casper, was the lead sponsor on this bill. Reps. Evan Simpson, R-Afton and Dan Zwonitzer, R-Cheyenne, have come out publicly in recent days, saying Gray mostly took credit for a similar bill Simpson had written. 

“It was clear we had different motives,” Simpson wrote in a letter to the editor in Cowboy State Daily on Thursday. “Mr. Gray wanted the glory and prestige of being the “author” of the bill; I simply just wanted a clean bill that would pass the legislature (t)his time and be easy to implement.” 

Gray has made the voter ID bill one of his crowning achievements while campaigning for Secretary of State. The bill fits squarely within his platform to strengthen election security, promising to remove ballot drop boxes and make ballot harvesting a felony if elected. 

Gray crafted voter ID bills in 2019 and 2020 that did not pass. Zwonitzer said these bills failed because they were too restrictive and did not have the support of lobbying groups such as AARP, which represents senior citizens. This is a demographic that often does not have up-to-date driver’s licenses, one of the requirements Gray was pushing for in his earlier bills.

Lawmaking 

After two years of waiting, Simpson said he wanted to get a voter ID bill through that could pass, so he drafted his own in 2021.  He did not consult Gray prior to doing so. Gray had already created his own voter ID bill that session, for the third year in a row. 

“I did the research on voter ID laws and drafted a bill that was straight forward and effective,” Simpson wrote. 

Simpson said when Gray caught wind that he was drafting a similar bill, the Casper representative was not happy. 

“It was at that time that I received a phone call from Mr. Gray,” Simpson said.  “He was upset and quite condescending.  He demanded to know what I was doing. He had drafted yet another bill and felt that he had earned the privilege to be the sponsor.” 

Zwonitzer said it’s common for two similar bills to be created in the same legislature but said the sponsor of these mirror bills typically collaborate with each other. They work on the bill that has the best chance of passing. 

Simpson said Gray agreed to have Gray remove the verbiage from his bill and insert the main language from Simpson’s bill and coordinate with AARP and other lobbyists, with Gray taking lead sponsorship. 

“This was a decision I now regret seeing how he is taking all the credit for writing and passing the voter ID bill,” Simpson wrote, saying these claims raise questions about his honesty and integrity. 

Zwonitzer, chair of the House Corporations, Elections and Political Subdivisions Committee, said Gray also called him and demanded Zwonitzer pull Simpson’s bill. Zwonitzer said he thought Simpson’s bill was better, so he refused. 

Zwonitzer said he spoke with Simpson about the matter, and the two had concerns Gray might vote against Simpson’s voter ID bill. 

Angry And Combative

Simpson said after refusing to give in to Gray’s demands during the first call, Gray called him a few days later and continued to “badger” him about dropping his bill, becoming angry and combative.  

“I told him I would hang up if he didn’t calm down to discuss the issue,” Simpson said.

Zwonitzer said this behavior is consistent with the way Gray typically carries himself in the legislature. He said Gray has never been concerned with the traditional decorum expected of the body, lacking emotional empathy, tactfulness, and interpersonal social skills. 

“He’s very self-centric, not a mover-shaker,” Zwonitzer said. “He’s more, ‘agree to my demands,’ and if you don’t, ‘why don’t you agree with me?’ He’s not very smooth.” 

“It’s his way or the highway,” Zwonitzer said. 

Bad Reputation

Zwonitzer said also plaguing Gray’s bills, is his reputation within the Legislature. Zwonitzer said about 50% of the state’s legislators refuse to work with Gray on any bill. 

“He’s burned that many bridges,” Zwonitzer, the most senior member of the House, told Cowboy State Daily on Friday morning. 

But Gray does have the support of Rep. Mark Jennings, R-Sheridan, Rep. Jeremy Haroldson, R-Wheatland, and Rep. John Bear, R-Gillette. Gray is also supported by most of the House Freedom Caucus, State Treasurer Curt Meier and former President Donald Trump. 

Gray has often cast his opponents and his leading Secretary of State opponent, State Sen. Tara Nethercott, R-Cheyenne,  in a negative light as “insiders.”

“In the last days of our campaign the (U.S. Rep.) Liz Cheney/Tara Nethercott establishment and the Cowboy State Daily are pulling out all the lies they can,” Gray told Cowboy State Daily Friday morning.

“Not Qualified”

Rep. Landon Brown, R-Cheyenne, also spoke out against Gray on Thursday. 

“Be smart, recognize that Chuck is not qualified for this level of authority,” Brown said, endorsing Nethercott. “His inability to work with his own colleagues in the House proves his inability to accomplish anything.” 

Zwonitzer did compliment Gray as being intelligent and passionate about his job and said Gray will let old disagreements pass with people who agree to work with him in the present.  

Gray responded to Zwonitzer and Simpson’s account of events without addressing their comments and instead said it was a personal attack by Cowboy State Daily. 

“Wayne Hughes, who is funding the secretive PAC attacking me, is the main investor for the Cowboy State Daily paying the editor and reporter printing lies about me,” he said.

The “secretive” organization Gray refers to is the Wyoming Hope Political Action Committee, which Cowboy State Daily owner Wayne Hughes Jr. donated money to. This PAC has endorsed Nethercott and given $10,000 to her campaign, which meets disclosure laws.

Gray has been under scrutiny for alleged failures to comply with federal disclosure laws for the U.S. House race before he dropped out to run for secretary of state. Gray has denied these allegations and said he got the funds in an inheritance from his grandfather.

Recent Wyoming disclosures show he also has 95% of his campaign funding from a single source with $500,000 coming from his father, who himself is reportedly out of compliance with the Secretary of State business division for failure to file statutory business disclosures.

In describing the mission of Wyoming Hope, chairman Diemer True said it’s approach is, “Let’s back right-minded, proven conservative candidates who can govern effectively for Wyoming people.”

Attack The Media

Criticizing the media or saying the media is involved in a conspiracy against him for questions or stories that Gray doesn’t like has been a standard response for the candidate.

According to WyoFile, Gray declined to answer questions about his past employment, professional experience, or other qualifying attributes for the Secretary of State job. He has repeatedly criticized the Casper Star Tribune, which he describes as the “Red Star,” for that publication’s coverage of him. 

Gray described a Federal Election Commission complaint filed against him as an attempt by the Casper Star Tribune and the complainant to smear him and his candidacy. Former Wyoming Secretary of State Max Maxfield, filer of the complaint, has endorsed Nethercott’s candidacy. 

Gray will typically only answer questions when they are sent to him over cell phone, which is what he instructed Cowboy State Daily and WyoFile to do following a debate held in Casper earlier this month. 

Zwonitzer, who is supporting Nethercott, said he has found her to be an easier legislator to work with. 

“With Nethercott I have more of a long-term relationship,” he said. “She builds bridges and works towards more respectful interactions. It’s a different approach.” 

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Wyoming Hunting Preview: The Heat Won’t Beat The 2022 Season, Hunters Say

in Wyoming outdoors/News
Courtesy, Wyo Game & Fish
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 By Mark Heinz, public lands and wildlife reporter
Mark@CowboyStateDaily.com

Two experienced Wyoming sportsmen said soaring temperatures discouraged them from early archery antelope hunts, but they expect a great 2022 season nonetheless. 

“I’ve never been an early season antelope hunter. It’s still too warm to be out there harvesting an animal,” Josh Coursey, who lives near Kemmerer and hunts both the archery and rifle seasons, told Cowboy State Daily. He is the co-founder, president and CEO of Muley Fanatics, a mule deer advocacy group. 

Johnny Bergeson, an avid hunter and hunting guide from Laramie – who also enjoys both archery and rifle hunting – told Cowboy State Daily that he was holding off on antelope, but counting the days until he goes after elk in the Snowy Range Mountains. 

“I plan to go Sept. 1. Elk is what I live for,” he said. 

Antelope archery season opened as early as Aug. 1 in some hunt areas around Wyoming, but doesn’t start until Aug. 15 in others. Many rifle hunts for antelope, deer and elk are set to open in October. 

Optimistic

Despite a dry early summer and hot temperatures throughout the season, both hunters said recent rains should help boost forage, and the big game animals they’ve seen while out scouting look healthy. 

“I’m very optimistic about the 2022 hunting season. The critters I’ve seen look really good,” Coursey said. 

For those who decide to venture out after antelope while summer is still in full swing, he said hunting during the cool early morning hours is wise, as is having a large cooler full of ice ready. 

“Get the hide off, get the animal quick quartered and get it in the cooler,” he said. 

“Quick quartering” is a method many hunters use to rapidly strip the hide off a freshly-killed big-game carcass and remove the edible meat – much of it with the bones still in. This saves them the trouble of gutting the animal or lugging the entire carcass back to camp or a vehicle.  

Wyoming Game and Fish Department regulations state that hunters must take all edible portions of a big game animal, including the backstraps and tenderloins. 

Mule Deer Uptick

Mule deer have been in decline around the West for numerous reasons, some of which include fragmentation of their habitat and migration routes because of development, disease and competition with other wildlife for food. 

Even so, Coursey and Bergeson said there’s hope for those seeking bucks this year. 

“Particularly in western Wyoming, that five-year-old age class of deer was missing from the landscape after the harsh winter of 2017,” Coursey said. “I think we’re starting to see the good bucks in that age class again.” 

Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) has taken its toll on mule deer, so it’s best to hold out for larger bucks, Bergeson said. 

“With the whole CWD thing, you never know how things are going to be year-to-year with mule deer,” said Bergeson, who plans to hunt deer on the Saratoga side of the Snowy Range. “I like to wait for a mature deer. I like to let the younger ones live.” 

CWD is a fatally degenerative nervous system and brain disease spread among deer through prions, a type of distorted protein. There are no known cases of the disease spreading to humans, but the Game and Fish and Centers for Disease Control recommend against eating meat from infected animals. The Game and Fish offers free CWD testing of samples taken from hunters’ kills.  

Elk Look Great

The elk hunting looks to be great this year, both outdoorsmen said. 

“Elk are prolific in Wyoming. I don’t know of any area where the elk aren’t thriving,” Coursey said. 

He plans to hunt elk in the Wind River Mountains. 

Bergeson said he plans to start off with a four-day backpack archery hunt for elk in the Snowy Range, using both calling and spot-and-stalk techniques. 

For calling, a camouflaged archery hunter will set up in a likely spot, and then use calls to imitate the chirping sounds of cow elk and the challenging bugling of bulls, in hopes of drawing a bull into bow range – typically 40 yards or less. 

Spot and stalk entails using binoculars or a spotting scope to find an animal, and then methodically sneaking into shooting range. 

 “I’m all about the experience,” Bergeson said. “I generally don’t like to just fill my tag the first day of the season. I like to make the hunt last. I always use the excuse that I’m looking for a big bull, but when the time comes and something walks in front of me, then I’ll decide.” 

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Star Valley’s Jay Osmond Celebrates Premier Of “The Osmonds” Musical

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By Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily 

A Star Valley resident is celebrating the premiere this week of a musical chronicling his family’s rise to stardom in the 1960s and 70s. The family? The Osmonds.  The title of the musical that premiered in England on Tuesday? “The Osmonds.”  The man behind the show? Jay Osmond – a proud resident of Star Valley, Wyoming, a region that his family helped to settle.  

Jay was just 3 years old when he and three of his older brothers began performing songs in four-part harmony around their community of Ogden, Utah, to raise money for hearing aids for brothers Tom and Virl. 

A failed audition for “Lawrence Welk” in the late 1950s led the group to be discovered by Walt Disney, and later entertainer Andy Williams. “The Osmond Brothers” became massively popular over the next decade, with two more brothers (Donny and Jimmy) eventually joining the group, spawning “Osmondmania” around the world. 

In the 1960s and 70s, there was not a more recognizable name in entertainment. Television shows, top-ten hits and world tours defined family life for over two decades – a time that Jay related in his book, “Stages: An Autobiography.” 

The journey of The Osmonds, through his eyes, is the story Jay brought to producers as the basis for the musical that premiered in Manchester on Tuesday. 



Proud Wyoming Heritage 

Although most people associate the Osmond family with the state of Utah, their roots are in Star Valley, Wyoming, where Jay and his wife Karen reside. 

“My great grandfather, George Osmond, came from London,” he told Cowboy State Daily, “and he was commissioned by Brigham Young to go out to Afton and set up that town.”  

Jay’s grandfather and father were both born in Star Valley, said Osmond. 

“My father was born in Etna, and my grandfather was born in Afton,” he said. “So I’m a fourth generation Star Valleyian. And my nephew, Travis Osmond, is living there – he’s the fifth generation – and now his kids are there. There’s six generations there.”  

Osmond is thrilled to be a Wyomingite, coming back to his family’s roots. 

“A lot of people don’t know, they think that the roots of the Osmonds were from Utah, but it’s really Wyoming,” Jay said. 

Jay’s wife, Karen, added that Jay’s father had dreams of taking his family back to Star Valley. 

“His father always wanted to bring the boys back and raise them in Wyoming,” said Karen. “That was his dream. But since they were always all over the world with Andy Williams, and they were doing their movie star-recording star stuff, they were never able to go.” 

Jay loves the people of Wyoming. 

“They’re what I call the salt of the earth people, because they’re just real, they’re grounded,” he said. “They don’t give into all that fluff and silliness that Hollywood throws at people. And that’s one of the reasons we wanted to move back.” 

Because of their careers, Jay said, the family settled where it made the most sense at the time – from Hollywood to Provo, where the Osmond kids attended Brigham Young University; then to Branson, Missouri, where the family performed. 

“But I always wanted to get back to the roots, in the heart of what the Osmonds were all about for me,” he said. 


Jay and Karen Osmond

The “Star” in Star Valley 

Karen said George would often remind his family, in subtle ways, about their Wyoming roots. 

“He’d always draw this perfect star when he doodled,” she said. “And Jay was always going, ‘What is that?’ Well, when we moved to Star Valley, there’s that ‘star.’ So when he was doing that, he was remembering and wishing that he could be there.” 

“It was his way of always recalling his memories,” Jay said. “He had such good memories. And, of course, we visited as kids, but he always wanted to raise us there in Star Valley.” 

Jay said that when the family was honored with their own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, his father pointed to that star as a reminder of what’s important. 

“When we got the star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, he told us, ‘Never forget, everyone’s a star – and don’t forget where your roots came from,’” Jay recalled. 

A star also symbolized George’s philosophy, which he passed on to his children. 

“He said that there are five points to make you a star,” Jay said. “Number one, to be mentally strong; two, physically fit; be socially aware of others; spiritually in tune; and also, financially stable. Those are the five points that he loved, that’s what makes people healthy. And that’s what kept us grounded.” 

Jay credits his father’s philosophy with keeping the family together through their tumultuous years in the spotlight. 

“This play that I’m writing, he’s John Wayne and Cary Grant all together in one person,” he said. “But he was such a good man, this play that I’m doing is a lot about him and my sweet angel mother, and how they got us started, and the wonderful people that they are, and how they got us through all these hard things.”  



The Musical 

Osmond has dedicated the past five years to creating the musical, based on a book he was writing, which he called “Finding My Voice In A Big Family.”

“Sixty years in show business, over 30 songs, and so it was a real task to put it together,” he told Cowboy State Daily in an interview on Wednesday, the morning after the show’s premiere.  

“I take people on a journey, basically,” Jay said. “And I show the highs and lows of our career and our family life – but it is through my eyes. It’s how I saw it. It’s not the official Osmond story. It’s just my way of showing people how I saw things growing up as an Osmond.” 

The show premiered in Europe because of the connections Jay made while in the process of writing his book.

“My friend was the owner of several theaters in the Nordic area,” Jay said. “And then we got with Andrew Lloyd Webber’s producers, and then we got some great writers to help me crunch things together in London, and so that’s why it’s here – because really we wanted to start it here, but it’s going to eventually get to America.”



The project has been an emotional journey for Jay, recalling the events that shaped his life, and putting them on display for all to see. 

“I was asked by a lady who said, ‘What is the highlight of the show for you?’ And I said, ‘When we were at our lowest point,’” Jay said. “Because I saw a family pull together like I’ve never seen anybody. When you go through what we went through, and how we lost so much money, and the people that were around us – and yet we pulled through and pulled it together again.” 

Jay pointed out that his brothers didn’t have input into the creation of this musical, because it would have made the story confusing. 

“This one I had to do on my own,” he said, “because, really, you can’t have nine versions of the stories.” 



But he said his brothers are supportive of his project. 

“Donny wants to come over (to England) before this particular leg is up,” he said. 

Jay said “The Osmonds” musical isn’t just for fans that grew up following their career – it’s for anybody who loves musical theater. 

“It’s for anybody really, who wants a fun night out, who is maybe even curious about our family,” he said. “The music, the pacing… the dancing, these people who put it on – you’re not going to believe the acting involved, and the singing, and the band is amazing.” 

Jay said after the tour is completed in the United Kingdom, the company has plans to take the show to Canada, then to the U.S., before going to other places around the world. 

Jay said so far, the response to his family’s story has been heartwarming. 

“It’s fun to see people standing in the aisles, singing and dancing and laughing and even crying at the right moments,” he said. “I’m so thrilled.” 

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Civil War Uniform Button Discovered At Little Bighorn Battlefield

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By Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily 

Just over the Wyoming-Montana border, ghostly memories haunt the plains. 

In late June of 1876, warriors of the Lakota Sioux, Northern Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes battled soldiers of the 7th Regiment of the US Cavalry on the banks of the Little Bighorn River in southeast Montana.  

The 274 soldiers who followed George Armstrong Custer into battle were killed – including Custer himself. Among the combined tribes, at least 50 perished.  

Some say their spirits still roam over the place where so many lost their lives. And sometimes, those ghostly memories become real enough to see and touch.

Infantry Cuff Button 

On Monday, three groups of visitors to the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument near Hardin reported an unusual find – a small button, about the size of a dime, bearing the insignia of a general infantryman from the Civil War.  

Stan McGee, Chief of Interpretation and Public Information Officer at the Little Bighorn Battlefield, said based on the button’s size, it would have been a cuff button, or sewed onto a military vest. But he said there’s no telling if it was attached to a uniform that has since been reclaimed by the elements, or if it simply fell off during the battle. 

“It’s a general enlisted man’s button,” he said, adding that the buttons were made for Civil War uniforms and were most likely made of brass. 

“It’s oxidized from being in the ground,” he said, referring to the artifact’s bluish tinge. “And you know at the time it would have been bright polished brass.” 

Civil War Connection to the Indian Wars 

McGee said that after the Civil War was over, the War Department had a surplus of buttons, along with other uniform pieces. 

“So those Civil War buttons would commonly be reissued for the Indian Wars as well,” he said, explaining the appearance of such a button on a battlefield in Montana. 

McGee, who only recently arrived in Hardin after several years at the Harper’s Ferry  

National Historic Park in West Virginia, is primarily a Civil War historian.  

“I’ve pretty much covered the Civil War, not only in my career with the Park Service, but before my career with the Park Service,” he told Cowboy State Daily. “And Civil War history just kind of segues into western Indian War history too, because a lot of those soldiers had fought during the Civil War, and a lot of them transitioned out here to the Indian Wars as well.” 

Artifacts Surface After Extreme Weather

McGee said extreme weather events, such as fires or heavy rains, can sometimes reveal artifacts hidden below the surface of the soil. 

“After those big fires back in the 1980s and early ‘90s, a lot of artifacts did pop up,” he said, adding that those were mostly spent cartridges and bullets. 

But those artifacts have helped to interpret what happened on those fateful days in 1876. 

“After those fires in ‘80, and in the ‘90s, we were able to trace battle lines through all the finds that we discovered,” he said. 

But McGee said there haven’t been any other interesting finds – until recently. 

“Nothing major has been found since the ‘90s,” he said. “But it seems just recently, some stuff is starting to pop up and be found again.” 

Doing the Right Thing 

McGee said all three of the groups that discovered the button Monday did the right thing – rather than picking up the artifact, they simply took pictures of it, then reported the sighting to park officials. 

McGee said the acting superintendent of the park, along with the park’s curator and McGee, went to the location and removed the button from the battlefield, because of its visibility. 

“If it would have been in tall grass where it wasn’t visible, we would have just left it alone,” he said, “but we were worried that maybe the fourth or fifth visitors that noticed it would have just picked it up, and put in their pocket.” 

McGee said that in his experience, moments like these are opportunities to teach the public about the rules regarding national historic sites. 

“If individuals are caught removing a historical object from federal lands, it can result in a $5,000 fine, and even up to six months in jail,” he said. “What was really cool about the one group, it was a family with a young girl, probably about the age of 12, and it was kind of like a learning moment for her, to do the right thing.” 

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Where Is Grizzly 399? Famous Bear Who Hasn’t Been Seen In Over A Month May Have “Eloped”

in News/Grizzly Bears
Photo by Jorn Vangoidtsenhoven
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By Mark Heinz, public lands and wildlife reporter
Mark@CowboyStateDaily.com

 It’s been more than a month since a verified sighting of the famed Grizzly 399.

She grabbed headlines again in July when one of her four recently-weaned sub-adult cubs was killed by game wardens for alleged dangerous behavior toward humans. 

“Nobody knows where she is,” Jack Bayles, a co-founder of Team 399 – who photographs and videos the grizzly for her worldwide fan base – told Cowboy State Daily on Friday. The last verified sightings were in early July. “We think she’s somewhere up in the northern end of the park (Grand Teton National Park).” 

 Grizzly 399 gained fame about a decade ago, after she became one of the first grizzlies to frequent roadsides in Teton Park. Previously, tourists had to go to Yellowstone National Park for good opportunities to watch grizzlies.

 “In years past, when she’s separated from her cubs, she’s disappeared during the summer,” he said. “I don’t think she’s all that far away, she’s just not being seen.” 

Romance could be involved, Bayles said, because 399 is known to prefer privacy for courtship and mating. A portly male grizzly known as “Bruno” was seen courting 399 earlier this year; he is thought to have sired some of the many cubs 399 has raised over the years. 

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department also hasn’t heard about any activity from 399, or any of her three surviving offspring, said large carnivore specialist Dan Thompson. It’s assumed the mother bear has been quietly spending time off the beaten path in Teton Park. 

Two of 399’s surviving offspring were spotted on separate occasions in July, Bayles said. 

It’s unusual for grizzlies to have more than two cubs at a time; 399 had four in 2020. They were weaned and separated from their mother earlier this year. 

On July 12, Game and Fish agents captured and killed 399’s male sub-adult cub known as 1057. The young bruin had been involved in 13 instances of “dangerous behavior” toward humans in and around rural homes, according to the Game and Fish. 

It’s not the first time 399 has lost offspring, Bayles said. Two of her cubs were struck and killed by vehicles, one in 2012 and the other in 2016. 

“The big question is, does she have cubs next year?” he said. 

If she did indeed run off with Bruno, it could happen. 

At age 26, 399 is one of the oldest grizzlies in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, but could still be healthy enough to bear more cubs, Bayles said. 

Grizzlies typically live 20-30 years in the wild, Bayles said. The biggest cause of mortality among older bears is tooth decay. 

“Their teeth wear out. So, they can’t eat and they starve to death,” he said. 

From what Bayles has been able to ascertain by looking at 399 through telephoto lenses, her teeth are still in fairly good shape. 

The bear gained fame through her habit of shepherding her young cubs to spots right next to busy roadways, apparently unfazed by crowds of gawking tourists. 

That could be because she’s a clever mother, Bayles said. Male grizzlies will kill other males’ cubs in an attempt to breed with females. So, 399 might have figured out that the big males in her home range weren’t likely to follow her and her young toward the crowds. 

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Speed Goats, Swamp Donkeys, Assault Cows: Nicknames Abound For Wyoming’s Wild Critters 

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By Mark Heinz, public lands and wildlife reporter
Mark@CowboyStateDaily.com

A band of speed goats leaves a cloud of dust in their wake as they tear across the parched basin, while a swamp donkey enjoys greenery along a creek bed high on the slopes of nearby mountains. 

Along a highway in a wooded valley on the other side of the mountains, intrusive tourists test the patience of assault cows. And from his perch in an alpine zone between the basin and valley, a whistle pig keeps diligent watch for predators near his den. 

If they could grasp an understanding of those nicknames, the creatures pegged with them might be offended. Or amused. It’s impossible to say. 

Formally, they go by the more dignified titles of pronghorn, Shrias Moose, American plains bison and yellow-bellied marmot. (OK, perhaps the “yellow-bellied” part isn’t so dignified). 

Other animals, such as elk, might be misnamed, depending upon the perspective. 

The Need For Speed (Goats) 

Hang out around hunters long enough, and you’ll likely hear the animals commonly referred to as antelope being called “speed goats.” 

So, are these animals members of the antelope family, or the goat family? 

Trick question – they’re neither.  They don’t belong to any family. At least none still living. 

Pronghorn are a uniquely North American species. At one time in the distant past – probably even before the first humans arrived in what is now Wyoming – they had a few direct relatives. But those other species have since died out, leaving pronghorn as the sole survivors. 

They’re built to survive. They have hollow hair which helps keep them cool during the blistering summers and warm during the frigid winters on their home range. Their vision is about as good as a human’s looking through a pair of 10-power binoculars. 

And they’re arguably the fastest land animals on earth. African Cheetas can reach speeds of up to 70 miles per hour in short bursts – considerably faster than the pronghorn’s estimated top speed of about 55 mph. However, pronghorn can keep their top speed up for extended periods and across several miles. So, they would leave Cheetas in the dust in any race that lasted for more than a few seconds.   

That, coupled with what could charitably be described as a goat-like face has led to perhaps their most popular nickname, “speed goats”. 

“Antelope” is the most common informal name for them; even the Wyoming Game and Fish Department uses that title in its hunting regulations. 

It’s speculated that when the first pioneers of European descent started to see the creatures as they pushed into the vast lands of the West, they didn’t know what to call them. Images of the various antelope species native to Africa probably came to mind, and the name stuck. 

Large, Confusing Deer 

“Swamp Donkey” is a fairly common colloquialism for moose, probably because of their awkward faces and huge, floppy ears. 

Moose are the largest member of the deer family, which in Wyoming also includes whitetail and mule deer, as well as elk. (Well, moose might actually be elk, and elk might not be properly called elk after all – but more on that in a bit.) 

The subspecies native to Wyoming is the Shiras Moose. They are smaller than Alaskan moose, but still impressively huge. And certainly nothing to trifle with. Moose are known to be generally fearless, and cow moose can become downright vicious if they sense a threat to their young. 

The term “moose” is thought to have originated from “moosh”, which in the dialect of the Indigenous Canadian Innu people translates to “stripper and eater of bark,” according to the Encyclopedia Britannica’s online edition. 

Except in Europe, they’re known as “elk”, and the European Cousins of what Americans call “elk” are “red deer.” 

The European term “elk” probably traces back to old English and/or German words meaning “large deer,” according to Britannica. Which is why swamp donkeys … err, moose, are called elk on that side of the pond. 

Meanwhile, the creatures known to Indigenous Americans as “Wapiti” are called “elk” over here.  Probably, again, because European explorers called them “elk” upon first encountering them, because that was their old term for “large deer.” Which is what they are. 

Who You Calling “Whistle Pig”? 

Yellow-bellied marmots are frequently called “rock chucks,” at least in this region. Although they go by a variety of nicknames. They might occasionally be called “whistle pigs” in Wyoming, but that term seems to be more commonly used in the South for ground hogs. 

Wyoming’s marmots are sometimes also called “ground hogs”, even though they aren’t. Marmots, which populate the Western states, and ground hogs, which are found in the East and South, are closely related, but not the same species. They are among the largest members of the squirrel family. 

The term “chuck” is frequently attached to both critters, as in “rock chuck” or “wood chuck.”  That’s probably because of a the “chucking” sound of their alarm calls, according to the Marmot Burrow web site and University of California biologist Daniel T. Blumstein. 

“Assault Cows” 

And lastly, we come to buffalo … no, wait, bison. 

These massive, iconic creatures are most properly called American plains bison. They are related to the American wood bison, which has a more northern, forested home range. 

They aren’t related to actual buffalo, which include Asian water buffalo and African cape buffalo. 

As to how they came to be called buffalo, it seems that confused European explorers are again to blame. 

“The word buffalo is derived from the French “bœuf,” a name given to bison when French fur trappers working in the U.S. in the early 1600s saw the animals,” says information posted online by the National Park Service. “The word bœuf came from what the French knew as true buffalo, animals living in Africa and Asia. Although this name was a mix-up of two different animals, many people still know bison as buffalo today.” 

The online site “Yellowstone: Invasion of the Idiots,” founded by two Yellowstone-area residents to chronicle the misadventures of tourists, features a far better nickname. It’s based upon the bison sometimes losing patience and hammering foolhardy tourists who have invaded the bison’s personal space: “High capacity assault cow.” 

Courtesy: Yellowstone Invasion of the Idiots

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WYDOT Offers To Plow Stretch Of Critical Yellowstone Road So Citizens Aren’t Stranded

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WYDOT file photo
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By Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily 

A representative from the Wyoming Department of Transportation Tuesday said the agency is prepared to temporarily take over the responsibility to plow a section of highway near Cooke City, Montana. 

Maintenance of the nine-mile segment of Highway 212 near the northeast entrance of Yellowstone National park has traditionally been the responsibility of the Park Service.  However, since flooding on June 13 took out several large segments of the road between Mammoth and Cooke City, the Park Service’s priorities are to make sure residents of Cooke City and Silver Gate aren’t cut off.  

WYDOT district supervisor Pete Hallsten said Tuesday WYDOT is working with Yellowstone National Park to ensure residents of Cooke City are not cut off in the event of a snowstorm.   

Hallesten gave his comments at the annual State Transportation Improvement Program meeting, which was held at the Park County Courthouse.  They were echoed by Cody Beers, spokesperson for WYDOT. 

“We’re trying to be good neighbors,” said Beers.

But the question of why WYDOT doesn’t already maintain a highway that runs within its borders is a larger, more complicated issue.  

WYDOT Not Responsible For Wyoming Road 

The nine-mile segment of U.S. Highway 212, locally known as “the plug,” crosses the state line between Wyoming and Montana before continuing over the Beartooth Pass. Although 22 miles of the “Beartooth Highway” is in Wyoming, WYDOT has never claimed responsibility for maintaining it. 

The Highway was born after urging from citizens of Red Lodge, Montana, who wanted access to Yellowstone National Park. In January of 1931, President Herbert Hoover signed the National Park Approaches Act, which allowed for the construction of the highway between Red Lodge and Cooke City. 

However, no federal money was provided for the maintenance of the road. The National Park Service urged the Montana State Highway Commission to take on responsibility for maintenance, reasoning that the road was built on the request of Montana citizens and connected two Montana communities. But since the road was an approach to a national park, the commission argued that the federal government should maintain the highway. 

In 1945, Congress passed legislation that gave the Park Service the authority to maintain the highway using Forest Service funds. 

“Yellowstone has been maintaining that piece of road from the northeast gate to the Wyoming-Montana border, which is clear up, almost over the top of the (Beartooth Pass) right at the Wyoming border, since that road was built,” said Beers. 

But Wyoming was never included in the plans to maintain the 35-mile section of the Beartooth Highway that dips south of the Montana border.  

“We don’t plan to have a long-term commitment to that area,” said Beers. “We’ve got our own roads to take care of and maintain. We don’t have the funds for a long-term commitment to that area, because it’s not our road.” 

Beers said that taking on the permanent responsibility to maintain that stretch of road would be akin to accepting an unfunded mandate. 

“And we don’t have the money to do it,” he said. “And it’s a piece of road that, by virtue of its location, takes a lot of time, a lot of effort and a lot of money to maintain.”  

Just In Case 

Yellowstone officials have offered a target date of October 15 to complete repairs on Highway 89, the road that connects Cooke City to Mammoth.  This would allow residents to access the rest of the world, and vice versa. 

“But we work in construction all the time and things don’t always go according to plan,” Beers said. 

Although October is not necessarily a month in which snow events might close roads, Beers said WYDOT is committed to plowing “the plug,” should snow create dangerous travel conditions, until the Northeast Entrance to Yellowstone opens to traffic. 

“We’ve stayed very steadfast in our commitment to the good people of Cooke City,” he said. “We’ll make sure you have access to the outside world.” 

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Tourists In Yellowstone Walk-Up To 2,000 Pound Fighting Bison To Get Better View

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By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily

It would seem to be conventional wisdom that when two 2,000-pound bison are fighting each other, it’s a good idea not to get involved.

But that was not the case for one couple in Yellowstone on Monday.

Two irritated bison were actively throwing-down in the middle of a road. Snorting, bellowing, wallowing, locking horns. They weren’t happy.

Instead of getting inside of their vehicle, an older couple walked up to the fighters for ring-side seats.

Cindy Shaffer, who works at a bookstore in Yellowstone and took video of the interaction, told Cowboy State Daily at one point the couple was less than 10-feet away from the bison.

“I was very scared for them,” Shaffer said. “As you can see, they are very powerful and dangerous animals.”

Shaffer’s voice can be heard in the video. She said she was the one who yelled out to them to get in their car “or they will kill you.”

Shaffer said it is especially dangerous around this time of year as it’s “the rut” or mating season and it’s peaking right now.

It all turned out OK as the older couple got back in their car and the bison took off a short time later.

But not before Shaffer was able to take a photo showing just how big one of the scrappers was.


Photo by Cindy Shaffer

“This is one of them,” Shaffer messaged. “HUGE!!!”

A longtime resident of the Yellowstone area, Shaffer believes the bison were 2,000-pounders.

Florida Man

Frank Zerba, one of the motorists who pulled over to watch the sparring animals, said he stayed in his car because he didn’t want to get his “ass kicked.”

“I’m from Florida, the last thing I need is to make the Florida Man page,” Zerba said, referring to numerous websites and social media pages which showcase idiotic actions of people from the Sunshine State.

“I may be a Florida man but I’m not going to be that Florida man,” he said.

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University of Wyoming Poll: Hageman’s Lead Over Cheney Has Grown

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By Leo Wolfson, political reporter
Leo@CowboyStateDaily.com

U.S. House candidate Harriet Hageman’s lead has grown against U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney, according to a University of Wyoming survey released Thursday morning.  

According to a July 25-Aug. 6 survey that yielded 562 responses, Hageman is now leading Cheney by 28 points. This is up from the 22% lead Hageman held over Cheney in a Casper Star Tribune poll conducted in mid-July. 

The survey did not use registered voter lists and only surveyed people who said they were likely to vote in the Republican primary. 

“Given the unique attention this race is receiving, and the accompanying increases in voter registration and potential party switching, we decided to field this survey to a random sample of all Wyoming residents on cellphones and landlines and work to identify likely voters in the GOP primary,” said Brian Harnisch, director of the Wyoming Survey and Analysis Center. “When looking only at residents who say they are Republican and likely voters in the primary, we actually see Hageman leading by roughly 50 points.” 

In the most recent poll, 57% of voters expressed support for Hageman, while 28% said they planned to vote for Cheney. 

“The race for the Republican nomination appears to be a referendum on Cheney, as it usually is when an incumbent seeks reelection,” said Jim King, a professor of political science at UW, in a press release for the poll. 

Of those who expressed support for Hageman, 16% said President Joe Biden’s election was legitimate and 72% percent said there is solid evidence of widespread voter fraud. This was compared to the 94% of Cheney supporters who said Biden’s win was legitimate and the 3% of her supporters who thought there was widespread voter fraud. 

The margin of error for the primary survey is plus or minus 4 percentage points.  

Sixty-six percent of people supporting Cheney said they were voting for her solely on her qualifications. Of those voting for another candidate, 41% said they were doing so as a vote against Cheney.

Among Wyoming residents who identify as Democrats and likely voters, roughly half said they will vote in the Republican primary. Among this group, Cheney received 98% support. Among people who identify as Republican and are likely to vote in the primary, 15% said they will be voting for Cheney.  

Based on the survey results, King does not expect crossover voting to play a major role in the final primary election results. 

Of those surveyed, 8% were Democrats, and 21% Independents. A total of 88% said they are currently registered as Republicans. 

Cheney holds a 2% lead among Independent voters. 

King has said previously he considers the support of Independent voters a more significant predictor of Cheney’s success than Democrats. He said Cheney’s inability to dominate Hageman among Independents and remain competitive with her among Republicans is not a good sign for the congresswoman’s re-election hopes. 

In the 2020 primary election, 61% of registered voters turned out to vote.  If 60% of people registered to vote turn out for Tuesday’s primary, which is about how many did in 2020, it would still not be enough for party switchers to change the election outcome, according to Harnisch.

“Back-of-the-napkin math says that number could represent as many as 20,000 votes in the GOP primary from currently registered Democrats, compared to as many as 200,000-plus votes from registered Republicans,” Harnisch said. 

State Sen. Anthony Bouchard, R-Cheyenne finished third in the race with 1.7% of the poll vote, while 9.8% of people saying they did not know who they will vote for.  

In the UW survey for the Wyoming governor’s race, Gov. Mark Gordon won by a healthy margin, beating top contender Brent Bien by 40% of the vote. Other challenger Rex Rammell earned 3.5%. 

There are still many undecided voters in this race, with 24.7% saying they are unsure which candidate will win their support, according to the poll. 

A news website or mobile application was the most common source of political information for the surveyed voters. Cable television followed this medium, with print media in a distant third. 

Most of those surveyed had at least some college education.

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Wyoming Daily Gas Map: Friday, August 12, 2022

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By Tim Mandese, Cowboy State Daily 

Wyoming’s average price per gallon $4.06, is down 2 cents from our last report of $4.08 on Wednesday.

The website GasBuddy.com, which tracks national gas prices, reported Wyoming’s average gas price is down 18 cents from a week ago, and is up, 50 cents per gallon from one year ago.      

Wyoming’s average price for gasoline remained above the national average of $3.95    

High and Low Prices:      

The highest reported gasoline price in Wyoming on Thursday was in Moose at the Phillips 66, 12170 Doran Rd, at $5.71 per gallon. The lowest price in Wyoming was in Casper, with multiple locations reporting $3.28 per gallon.     

The highest county average is in Teton and Lincoln Counties, with an average of $4.82 per gallon. The county with the lowest average, is Natrona County, with $3.35 These are the highest and lowest reported prices among those stationed surveyed.      

*The average price per gallon of regular in each Wyoming county:  

Albany $3.84; Big Horn $4.47; Campbell $3.57; Carbon $4.12; Converse $4.07; Crook $4.07; Fremont $4.33; Goshen $4.25; Hot Springs $4.07; Johnson $4.07; Laramie $4.00; Lincoln $4.82; Natrona $3.35; Niobrara $3.95; Park $4.40; Platte $4.77; Sheridan $4.15; Sublette $4.07; Sweetwater $4.01; Teton $4.82; Uinta $4.07; Washakie $4.07; Weston: $4.19  

*The lowest price per gallon, reported in major Wyoming cities: 

Basin $4.45; Buffalo $4.12; Casper $3.28; Cheyenne $3.69; Cody $4.24; Douglas $3.98; Evanston $4.38; Gillette $3.45; Jackson $4.78; Kemmerer $4.38; Laramie $3.57; Lusk $3.85; Newcastle $3.99; Pinedale $4.14; Rawlins $3.99; Riverton $4.26; Rock Springs $3.96; Sheridan $3.95; Sundance $4.19; Thermopolis $4.04; Wheatland $4.72; Worland $4.47   

Want to help us gather the most accurate gas prices for this report? Consider downloading the GasBuddy app and submit the gas prices in your area.  

*Note: Prices in this report are for reference only. They are gathered just prior to posting, and may not reflect prices that have changed since last posted.  

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One Dead In Wind River Indian Reservation Police Shooting On Thursday Evening

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By Clair McFarland, Cowboy State Daily
Clair@CowboyStateDaily.com

UPDATE: In the hours after this story’s publication, the FBI confirmed to Cowboy State Daily that it is investigating the shooting detailed below. The agency did not comment on the death and will share “no further” information with the public during its investigation, but will deliver its results to the U.S. Attorney for Wyoming, an FBI spokesman said Friday.

At least one Bureau of Indian Affairs officer was involved in a shooting Thursday evening on the Wind River Indian Reservation, according to local authorities.   

Official records and interviews suggest that the suspect in the shooting has died, however, the FBI has not yet officially confirmed it.     

Two deputies from the Fremont County Sheriff’s Office responded at about 4:58 p.m. Thursday to the scene of an officer-involved shooting involving Bureau of Indian Affairs agents in Ethete, undersheriff Mike Hutchison confirmed Friday to Cowboy State Daily.   

“All the officers are OK,” Hutchison said, adding that the deputies were only on scene to aid with “scene security.”     

The FBI and the Bureau of Indian Affairs have jurisdiction on the reservation.  

According to the sheriff’s log, the Fremont County Coroner was called at 4:58 p.m. to a “stab/gunshot” fatality. Fremont County Coroner’s deputy Tony Simmers confirmed Friday that there had been a death.   

“Officer has shots fired; (Redacted) need a deputy to respond,” reads the sheriff’s log for the same incident.    

Hutchison could not give details regarding what may have led to the shooting or whether the suspect involved has died, as the sheriff’s office generally does not have jurisdiction on the reservation.    

Simmers said the fatality is under investigation, and the FBI is the primary source of information on the investigation. The FBI is reviewing a Cowboy State Daily request for information.  

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Gigantic $750 Billion Tax And Spending Bill Clears House, Cheney Votes Against

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By Clair McFarland, Cowboy State Daily
Clair@CowboyStateDaily.com

The so-called “Inflation Reduction Act” cleared the U.S. House on Friday and is headed to President Joe Biden’s desk.   

Every Republican in the U.S. House, including Wyoming’s U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney, voted against the $750 billion spending bill. It includes sweeping tax reforms on the energy industry, a 15% corporate tax for top businesses, and adds about 87,000 new agents to the Internal Revenue Service.    

Cheney told Cowboy State Daily she opposed the bill because it will hurt Wyoming and the nation.    

“Today’s legislation was not a good bill for Wyoming or our nation,” said Cheney through a text from her spokesman. “The reckless spending and tax hikes will hurt our economy. On top of that, provisions in the legislation attack our fossil fuel industry, which will result in negative consequences for both energy producers and consumers.   

“Instead of pushing through legislation supported entirely by one side and opposed by the other, Congress should be working to build bipartisan consensus that provides serious and responsible solutions for the nation.”   

Wyoming’s delegates to the U.S. Senate, Republican Senators John Barrasso and Cynthia Lummis, also opposed the bill last weekend.    

Money For Bureaus

Besides bolstering the IRS and imposing corporate tax hikes, the act also:
— Requires drug manufacturers to issue rebates to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for some drugs that cost over $100 per year, and provides funds for CMS to negotiate drug costs;
— Extends features of the Affordable Care Act through 2025;
— Extends and creates tax credits for renewable energy providers and for those investing in such projects;
— Increases permanent tax rates on the coal industry;
— Incentivizes market for “commercial clean vehicles” and “plug-in electric vehicles”
— Gives funding to the U.S. Department of Agriculture for “a variety of programs” including carbon sequestration and forest restoration projects;
— Gives funding to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for “climate change issues” and affordable housing;
— Gives funding to the Department of Energy for green energy rebates for homeowners and other projects;
— Gives money to the National Park Service, the Bureau of Land Management and numerous other bureaus for green energy reforms;
— Gives funding to the Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Postal Service, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency for low-carbon building materials, low-emission delivery vehicles, and other “environmental programs.”
— Gives funding to the Bureau of Indian Affairs for “a tribal electrification program.”

Republican lawmakers have railed against the bill, but a prominent environmental advocate for Wyoming on Thursday told Cowboy State Daily that it’s a heartening push in the departure from fossil fuels.   

Connie Wilbert, director of the Wyoming chapter of the Sierra Club, said climate change “affects us right here in Wyoming just like it affects everybody else.”    

Wilbert said the nation and Wyoming can’t transition away from fossil fuels fast enough, given that environmental impacts from burning fuels already are impacting the area.    

“(We have) a short window of time… left to take enough action to prevent irreversible and devastating climate change,” she said. “And those words scare me.”  

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