CHEYENNE – Wyoming’s incumbent U.S. senator and representative both easily advanced to the November general election Tuesday.
Sen. John Barrasso defeated five challengers, including what many believed was a serious threat from Jackson businessman Dave Dodson.
And first-term Rep. Liz Cheney bested two Republican challengers in her bid for another two years in the House.
“I’m very grateful with this kind of result this evening,” Barrasso said after being declared the winner Tuesday night. “We are just so very grateful for all the support of the people of Wyoming – people I’ve worked with as a doctor, as a state senator and now as a U.S. senator. People know me, know my wife and know we’re 100 percent committed to Wyoming and making life better for the people of Wyoming.”
With 469 out of 482 precincts reporting to Wyoming Network, Barrasso garnered 65,476 votes, while Dodson sat at 28,663 votes. John Holtz received 2,591 votes, Roque “Rocky” De La Fuente 1,184 votes and Anthony L. Van Risseghem 763 votes.
Barrasso will take on Democrat Gary Trauner, who ran unopposed in the primary.
With 469 out of 482 precincts reporting to Wyoming Network, Cheney held a commanding lead with 65,865 votes, while Rod Miller received 19,312, and Blake Stanley took 11,500. Charlie Hardy withdrew from the race Monday.
“I’m honored by the trust Wyoming Republicans have once again placed in me to serve as our state’s lone representative in Congress,” Cheney said in a prepared statement. “I thank my opponents for their willingness to step forward and participate in our process on behalf of the people of Wyoming.
“I also want to congratulate our strong slate of Republican candidates on their nominations. I look forward to campaigning with them in the general election as we fight to continue to build upon the progress that is being made to cut taxes and regulation, expand Wyoming’s energy, mining and ag industries, and restore America’s strength and power around the world.”
Cheney will take on Democrat Greg Hunter, who was declared the winner over Travis Helm. With 469 out of 482 precincts reporting to Wyoming Network, Hunter had 9,057 votes to Helm’s 5,768.
Hunter said he knew he faced an uphill battle to unseat the incumbent but was excited to continue travel the state and talk about why Wyoming needed to “progress and not regress.”
“I’m going to have to get out and talk to the people and work very hard. There’s a lot of people that, if they really look at it, I’m the better candidate to represent Wyoming from both a business standpoint as well as on the public lands issue,” Hunter said.
“I feel like there are a lot of Independents and Republicans that might not want to register as Democrats. But I think I can bring out the inner Democrat in them and vote for me in the general.”
Barrasso, the junior senator from Wyoming, fended off what some thought could have been a serious challenge from Dodson, who originally entered the race as an Independent candidate.
As the first batches of returns came in across the state, Barrasso jumped to a sizable lead that he never gave up.
Dodson said while the election results weren’t how he and his supporters hoped the night would turn out, he knew it was a long shot. But he said he got into the race to start to break down walls and raise issues, like the cost of health care, and would look again for an opportunity to advocate for the people of Wyoming.
“When we started this race, we were facing a castle. And we took a battering ram and hit it really hard. And we put some cracks in that stone wall. And I’m proud of that work we all put into it,” Dodson said.
Looking back, Dodson said he regrets that his switch from Independent candidate into the Republican primary kept the last three weeks of the race focused on his affiliation and not on the issues.
Dodson spent heavily in his bid to unseat Barrasso as the Republican standard bearer. He spent almost $1.4 million on his campaign, including $1 million he loaned himself.
But even with that significant investment, Barrasso still outspent Dodson by about $1 million.
The incumbent was able to pull in more than $4.7 million in campaign contributions since 2017, including about $2.2 million in contributions from organizations backing him. And Barrasso was sitting on a significant war chest of about $5.3 million as of Aug. 1.