Wyoming senators this week voted down a measure that would have implemented election changes, including adding a runoff if the winner of a primary race failed to secure a majority of votes.
The state Senate voted 15-14 on Wednesday to reject Senate File 145.
The legislation was backed by the Wyoming Republican Party and critics of Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), including Donald Trump Jr.., one of former President Donald Trump’s sons.
“Adopting a run-off approach would ensure that the winner of the Primary receives more than 50% of the vote in order to advance to the General Election. A run-off assures that the prevailing candidate will best represent the values of the majority of Wyoming Republicans,” the state GOP said last month.
Trump Jr. recently alleged that Cheney’s allies were trying to kill the bill. A spokesperson for the congresswoman told news outlets that she was not, and did not have a position on it.
Cheney stoked opposition when she became the highest-ranking Republican to vote to impeach Trump in January while he was still in office.
State Sen. Anthony Bouchard, a Republican, has since announced a primary challenge to the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney. Bouchard voted for the legislation on Wednesday.
Cheney received 39 percent of the vote in a nine-way GOP primary in 2016.
“That’s not exactly what you would call a mandate,” state Sen. Bo Biteman, a Republican who sponsored Senate File 145, said on the floor before the vote. “That’s the why. There’s a lot of people out there that don’t think that that’s right. They want to send our nominee off to the general election with a mandate of the majority of the party support. That’s the why, simple as that.”
State Sen. Ed Cooper of the GOP said he wasn’t sure whether there was a valid reason for election reform.
If there is, then “let’s do it right,” he said. “Let’s do an interim study.”
“I’m not sure that the three cases that the sponsor cited out of the last 65 elections is enough to justify a runoff election,” he added.
During a committee hearing earlier this month, Mary Lankford, representing the Wyoming County Clerk’s Association, said the estimated cost of holding a runoff election was $1.1 million. That funding would need to be allocated, she said.
After Lankford and others expressed concern about the legislation taking effect during the 2022 primary elections. The bill was amended to delay the switch to Jan. 1, 2023.