Wyoming GOP FILE

Signs are seen inside the front window of the Wyoming Republican Party office on Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2017, in downtown Cheyenne. Blaine McCartney/Wyoming Tribune Eagle

CHEYENNE – Two years after Republicans in House District 12 were faced with selecting nominees for a legislative vacancy, they are once again faced with the same task.

Rep. Lars Lone, R-Cheyenne, is stepping down from his seat several months before his term was set to end. Lone was not seeking re-election, but said since he and his family recently moved out of the district to a house in Carpenter, he felt he couldn’t continue to represent the district.

Republican committee members in House District 12 will now pick up to three candidates to fill the remainder of Lone’s.

Candidates have until Sept. 15 to apply for the position. Laramie County commissioners will then select Lone’s replacement.

Lone, himself, was first appointed to the seat in 2016 when former Republican Rep. Harlan Edmonds stepped down before his term ended because he had moved outside the district. Before the move, Edmonds had announced he wouldn’t run again, and Lone had won the Republican primary before being appointed to the seat.

Lone said his resignation was only a coincidence with what happened in 2016 and wasn’t done in order to set up a Republican to run as an incumbent in the general election. He said the idea that someone running as an incumbent would have an advantage in the general election “wasn’t a legitimate argument.”

“I don’t think that’s the case,” Lone said. “Trying to say people have a mind to do something isn’t right. We don’t know people’s minds. Everybody has the right to vote how they want.”

Darin Smith, chairman of the Laramie County Republican Party, said while it was odd that there were two resignations within two years, resignations by outgoing politicians were not an unusual occurrence in politics.

“It’s just a coincidence. We’ve had good representatives in House District 12 over the years, and I don’t think it’s a big deal,” Smith said Thursday.

Lone did throw his support behind Clarence Styvar, who won the August Republican primary to replace him. Styvar, who ran against Lone in 2016’s primary, said he would be applying for the open vacancy.

“I’ve been in the district for 14 years. I’m not going anywhere,” Styvar said. “We need to get somebody in there who will be there and represent the district. Their voices matter. That’s one of the things I’ve been saying.”

Styvar didn’t think if he was appointed to take over the remainder of Lone’s term that it would give him a leg up in the general election against Democrat Ryan Lindsey.

“It’s not a gimme that you’re going to be elected. You still have to go out there and meet the voters,” Styver said. “The only thing it will give me is a little experience in the committee meetings, and learning the process a little more quickly than someone else.”

Lindsey said he didn’t think the possibility of Styver being an incumbent would influence the outcome of the general election either.

“I am focused on the things I’ve been talking about throughout the campaign, and making sure I knock on every single door in the district,” Lindsey said. “I think it’s up to the voters of House District 12. If they think (the resignation) is OK, I expect they’ll show it at the polls. And if they think it’s fishy, I expect they’ll show it at the polls.”

Smith said it was up to House District 12 committee members to choose a candidate to be Lone’s replacement, and he wouldn’t make an outside recommendation to them. When asked why someone would apply for the position knowing they’d only hold it a few months and wouldn’t be able to run in November, Smith said “That’s a good question. I can’t really answer that.”

“My job is to help the precinct men and women of House District 12 put three names before the county commissioners,” Smith said. “It’s a 15-day total process, which means we don’t have a lot of time. It’s expedited, but it’s expedited by statute.”

Ramsey Scott is the Wyoming Tribune Eagle’s state government reporter. He can be reached at rscott@wyomingnews.com. Follow him on Twitter at @RamseyWyoming.

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