CHEYENNE -- Northeast Wyoming residents will have a few new faces representing them in the state Legislature next year, from a 22-year-old rancher to a longtime Sheridan attorney.
But no legislative incumbents lost their seats during Tuesday's primary election -- though one incumbent won by only the closest of margins.
State Rep. Richard Cannady, R-Glenrock, won a second term in House District 6 by just 12 votes -- or 1.1 percent -- over Richard Grant, a rancher and former chairman of the Converse County School District 2 Board of Trustees.
The margin of victory was just two votes more than the threshold to trigger an automatic recount.
"Well, we figured it was going to be pretty close," Cannady said. "We've known Rick Grant for a long time, really respect him, and he's got a lot of relatives and a lot of friends around here. It was a hard campaign to run against somebody like that -- I'd rather run against somebody you didn't like."
Grant said he was "surprised" and "disappointed" by the loss. While he said he had no regrets about the campaign he ran, he couldn't help second-guessing himself after hearing the news.
"As we were coming home tonight, we were like, 'Gosh, if we only went to 12 more houses' or 'What would it have taken to make the difference?'" he said.
So far, no other candidates have filed to run against Cannady in the November general election.
In another close race, rancher and business owner Ogden Driskill of Devils Tower narrowly held off two primary rivals in Senate District 1.
Driskill beat his closest opponent, rancher and railroad engineer Tom Dunlap of Keeline, by 53 votes out of more than 5,400 cast. Rancher and writer Terry Henderson of Shawnee followed in a close third, trailing Driskill by 68 votes.
All three were looking to succeed state Sen. Charles Townsend, R-Newcastle, in the state's largest legislative district, which takes up all of Crook, Weston and Niobrara counties, as well as southwestern Converse County and a chunk of northern Goshen County. So far, the GOP primary winner faces no opposition in the general election.
Meanwhile, in Sheridan County, attorney Jon Botten defeated three Republican contenders in a primary battle to succeed outgoing state Rep. Jack Landon, R-Sheridan, in House District 30.
Botten won with 42 percent of the vote; his closest opponent, 60-year-old rancher and former Sheridan County Commission Chairman Steve Cox of Wyarno, polled 31 percent.
R.G. Kekich, a 72-year-old Sheridan business owner, and Daniel Blake, a 28-year-old waiter-realtor from Sheridan, were in third and fourth place respectively.
So far, no Democrats, Libertarians or independent candidates have filed to run in the November general election in the district, which takes up the central part of Sheridan County, including the eastern fringes of the city of Sheridan.
"I feel good about it," Botten said. "Certainly, it's not over 'til November, but if things are as I understand them to be, I suppose chances are pretty good I'll be going to Cheyenne. I'm looking forward to the challenges ahead."
In House District 2, 22-year-old rancher Hans Hunt appears likely to become Wyoming's youngest state legislator, easily defeating two primary opponents.
Hunt won the primary with 45 percent of the vote; rancher Brad Reese of Shawnee received 30 percent of the vote, while John Ellis, who ranches near Lusk, polled 25 percent.
"It's pretty unbelievable, you know?" Hunt said. "I started this out and thought I'd give it my best shot. …I've got a lot of ambition, and I have a lot of enthusiasm for it, and I have a lot of energy to do what I can down there (in Cheyenne)."
No one else has filed to challenge the Republican primary winner in November. Hunt would succeed retiring state Rep. Ross Diercks, D-Newcastle.
In western Sheridan County, state Rep. Rosie Berger easily defeated Republican challenger Bill Doenz, a 59-year-old property tax reform activist who ranches near Big Horn.
With 11 of 13 precincts reporting, Berger led Doenz by a 2-1 margin, 1,202 votes to 602.
Berger, a 55-year-old event coordinator from Sheridan, is seeking a fifth term in House District 51. No other candidates have filed to run in the general election for the seat.
"I'm pretty excited that I get to go back to work again," Berger said. "I had to justify my votes and make people understand that they participated in helping me make those decisions. I'm proud of my record."
State Rep. Mike Madden, R-Buffalo, held off two opponents in the GOP primary for House District 40, which represents Johnson County and eastern Sheridan County.
Madden won with 66 percent of the vote. Also running were holistic health practitioner Laura DeMatteis of Buffalo and Joseph St. Pierre, Madden's next-door neighbor who owns and runs a company that manufactures absorbents for industrial spills.
Madden said he was "confident all the way through," but he said he was surprised he didn't win by a larger margin.
"There was, what, 33 percent of the people who didn't want me, so I've got some work to do," he said.
Madden so far faces no opposition in the general election.
In Campbell County, all four incumbent Republican state representatives held onto their seats.
In the closest Campbell County race, state Rep. Sue Wallis, R-Recluse, held off her next-door neighbor, rancher Merle McClure, by a 54-46 margin.
" I think that tells me at least one thing -- that we seem to be on the right track, as far as most people are concerned, in trying to figure out how to keep turning back the tide (on) government, so to speak, to a more sustainable level for the long term for the state," Wallis said.
Wallis will face Libertarian candidate Nicholas De Laat in November
Norine Kasperik, a member of the State Board of Education who recently retired as interim director of nursing at Gillette College, defeated construction contractor Dan Carroll in House District 32.
"I'm very honored that so many people came out and supported me," said Kasperik, who won with 66 percent of the vote.
In November, Kasperik will face Democrat Duffy Jenniges, who's unsuccessfully run for the state Legislature the past six elections in a row. The seat opened when state Rep. Tim Hallinan, R-Gillette, declined to seek re-election.
In House District 31, state Rep. Tom Lubnau, a Gillette attorney, easily defeated John Robertson, a farmer and former transportation company owner from Gillette.
Though no other candidates have filed to run against Lubnau in the general election, Lubnau was still cautious.
"I still have to make it through the general election, but getting over this hurdle is a wonderful relief," he said. .
State Rep. Gregg Blikre, a Gillette banker, defeated electrical contractor Rod Mathis of Gillette in the Republican primary for House District 53.
"Hopefully, I'll go on to serve as a member of the Wyoming Legislature again," said Blikre who so far faces no opposition in the general election. "I'm looking forward to it."
For complete results from Tuesday's primary election, go to www.trib.com/election.