CHEYENNE - It's not because Wayne Johnson just couldn't wait to file his paperwork for a state Senate run; it just made sense for him to do so shortly after 7 a.m. Thursday after taking his daughter to school.
That made him the first person to stop by the State Capitol Building in person to file his official candidacy for the Legislature on the first day of the 12-day sign-up period, which ends at 5 p.m. May 28.
"I have to drop her off at school at 7, so I might as well go sign up, so that's what I did," said Johnson, a Cheyenne Republican who is seeking a Senate seat this year after 12 years in the House.
That seat is now held by Sen. Rich Cathcart, D-Carpenter, who has said he will probably not run for re-election.
Elections official Lori Classen said Johnson and Floyd Esquibel were the first two people to stop by her office Thursday to file their paperwork and pay their filing fees of $25. Esquibel arrived a little before 8 a.m., but he said he didn't consider that to be early.
"I usually get up pretty early, and the first thing I do usually is go get some coffee or go for a walk, about 5, 5:30," said the Cheyenne Democrat who is running for his fifth two-year House term.
Classen said about 15 incumbent legislators actually delivered their paperwork two months ago, at the end of last winter's legislative session, and left it with the secretary of state's office to be filed when the filing season began.
By the end of the day, 48 people had filed for state legislative seats, including 38 incumbents, two House members seeking Senate seats, seven newcomers, and one person looking to make a comeback.
Another four people filed paperwork to run for Wyoming's sole position in the U.S. House of Representatives, all of whom had previously announced their intentions to run for Congress.
They include Torrington Democrat Al Hamburg, Wilson Democrat Ted Ladd, Casper Republican Jim Altebaumer and Laramie Republican Mike Oxley.
The seat is held by Barbara Cubin, the Casper Republican who has said she will seek a sixth two-year term this year.
State Sen. Cale Case, R-Lander, announced Thursday that he filed his U.S. House candidacy paperwork with the secretary of state's office, but the office had not received it in time to include his name on the list of first-day filers.
State Elections Director Peggy Nighswonger said Supreme Court justices, district judges and circuit judges also have to file a "declaration of intent" with her office to stand for retention if they are at the end of their appointed terms and wish to keep their jobs.
But judges do not face the same deadline pressure as candidates for U.S. House or the Legislature. The judges have until Aug. 2 to file with the secretary of state.
In the legislative races, Reps. Phil Nicholas, R-Cheyenne, and Stan Cooper, R-Kemmerer, are trying to make the jump from the House to the Senate.
Nicholas is running for the seat now held by Sen. Irene Devin, R-Laramie, who hasn't made public her future political plans and could not be reached for comment Thursday.
Cooper is challenging Sen. Larry Caller, D-Rock Springs, who was appointed two years ago to fill a vacancy and is now pursuing his first full four-year Senate term.
Kit Jennings, R-Casper, is the only legislative newcomer thus far signed up for a Senate run. Jennings has filed for the seat held by Casper Democrat Keith Goodenough, who has not yet filed his papers but is expected to seek re-election.
Incumbent senators who have filed with no opposition thus far are Chuck Townsend, R-Osage; Jim Anderson, R-Glenrock; Rae Lynn Job, D-Rock Springs; Gerald Geis, R-Worland; John Schiffer, R-Kaycee; and Dick Erb, R-Gillette.
On the House side, the only contested race as of the first day is in Carbon County, where incumbent Democrat George Bagby faces a challenge from Republican Dave Rader.
Rader was appointed to the seat to fill a vacancy in 2001 but lost to Bagby in the 2002 election. Both men live in Rawlins.
Cheyenne Republican Doug Samuelson is trying to return to the Legislature after a two-year haitus. He previously served in the House for four years.
Other newcomers who filed for House seats Thursday are Republicans David Miller of Cheyenne, Kermit Brown of Laramie, Frank Johnson of Kemmerer and Lorraine Quarberg of Thermopolis, along with Democrat Terry Barbre of Cheyenne.
Incumbent representatives who filed for re-election include Deborah Alden, R-Wheatland; Dave Edwards, R-Glenrock; Wayne Reese, D-Cheyenne; Layton Morgan, D-Cheyenne; Pete Jorgensen, D-Jackson; Mick Powers, R-Lyman; Randall Luthi, R-Freedom; Monte Olsen, R-Daniel; Alan Jones, R-Powell; Elaine Harvey, R-Lovell; Jane Wostenberg, R-Worland; Roy Cohee, R-Casper; and Bob Brechtel, R-Casper.
Also seeking re-election are Reps. John Hastert, D-Green River; Doug Osborn, R-Buffalo; Becket Hinckley, R-Cheyenne; Pete Illoway, R-Cheyenne; Floyd Esquibel, D-Cheyenne; James Slater, R-Laramie; Kurt Bucholz, R-Saratoga; Marty Martin, D-Rock Springs; Saundra Meyer, D-Evanston; Pat Childers, R-Cody; Rosie Berger, R-Big Horn; Del McOmie, R-Lander; Tom Walsh, R-Casper; Tom Lockhart, R-Casper; Mary Gilmore, D-Casper; and Bill Thompson, D-Green River.
The list of candidates will be updated daily about 5 p.m. on the secretary of state's Web site at (http://soswy.state.wy.us/election/2004/pri-cand.htm).