A felon and two out-of-state residents are among the candidates who have filed with the Wyoming Secretary of State’s Election Division to run in the August primary election.
The filing period was from May 15 to Friday.
The first day, more than 70 people filed, which is above average, Peggy Nighswonger, the state elections director, said Friday about four hours before the filing period closed.
But in the end, the number of filings is about normal, she said.
The felon and out-of-state candidates are aiming for seats in Congress, trying to unseat incumbents U.S. Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyoming, and U.S. Rep. Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyoming.
The felon is Democratic Senate candidate Al Hamburg. The out-of-staters are Democratic U.S. Senate candidate William Bryk, of Brooklyn, New York, and Democratic House candidate Richard Grayson, of Apache Junction, Arizona.
“In our state, a convicted felon cannot hold office, but in the United States Senate or United States House, someone can hold office, even if they have a felony conviction,” Nighswonger said.
The U.S. Constitution also allows out-of-state residents to run for Congress as long as they live in the state they will represent after they win the general election, she said.
“It’s just like when Hillary Clinton ran for Senate” from New York, Nighswonger said. “And she lived in Washington, D.C.”
The primary is Aug. 19. The general election is Nov. 4.
“It’s surprising that some races seem to be totally uncontested so far, and some seem to be heavily contested,” said Harlan Edmonds, a Cheyenne resident and provisional chairman of Conservative Republicans of Wyoming, an organization that promotes conservative candidates.
Edmonds noted that some races have several candidates, such as Wyoming secretary of state, which has four hopefuls, yet others have one, such as state auditor, which has only incumbent Republican Cynthia Cloud.
A handful of lawmakers are stepping down, including:
• Sen. Leslie Nutting, R-Cheyenne, said Friday that she is moving on after serving a term in the Wyoming Senate. She plans to spend more time with her grandsons. She originally ran because she wanted Senate District 7 to have Republican representation, she said.
“At this point, Stephan Pappas has filed to run for this district, and I think he would be an excellent representative, and I certainly support his running,” she said.
Pappas’ Democratic opponent in the race is Dameione S. Cameron.
• Rep. Matt Greene, R-Laramie, sent a letter to his constituents saying that he had graduated from the University of Wyoming College of Law and that new opportunities have arisen that will preclude him from seeking a third term. Greene will continue to serve in the Wyoming National Guard. Republican Charles “C.J.” Young and Democrat Charles F. Pelkey have filed for the seat in House District 45.
• Rep. Keith Gingery, R-Jackson, announced in March that he is stepping down after a decade in the Legislature to spend more time with family. In HD 23, Republican Wallace "Wally" Ulrich, former state geologist, Jim Darwiche, of Jackson, and Democrat Andy Schwartz, a former Teton County commissioner, have filed.
• Rep. Mark Semlek, R-Moorcroft, is retiring after three decades of public service. The HD 1 race is crowded. Three Republicans have filed: Bruce Brown, of Devils Tower, Ted Davis, of Sundance and Tyler Lindholm, of Sundance.
• Rep. Lynn Hutchings, R-Cheyenne, is abandoning her House seat for a bid for the state Senate. Republicans Ron Frost, Theodore “Jim” Blackburn and Tom Jones as well as Democrat Gary L. Datus are running for the seat.
Hutchings seeks to unseat Sen. Fred Emerich, the Republican incumbent in SD 5.
Hamburg, a felon who said he got his voting rights restored 11 years ago, is among eight candidates from both parties who want to unseat Enzi, who has been in the office since 1997.
At 82, he’s a retired house painter who lives in Torrington. He served in the Army in the Korean and Vietnam wars. He says he has nine children and has relationships with about half of them.
Hamburg has run for president, governor, U.S. House and U.S. Senate under the Republican, Democratic, Libertarian and New Alliance parties in Wyoming and Nebraska. This time he’s a Democrat.
He opposes the United States’ involvement in the Middle East, saying it’s expensive.
“We’ve got to speak out against these illegal aliens in the country,” he said. “They’re already overrunning the country. ‘Press 1 for English.’ Everything else is Spanish.”
In 1984, Hamburg ran his dog, Woofer D. Coyote, for president.
In 1989, Hamburg was convicted of forging signatures of dead people to get the New Alliance Party on the ballot, a felony. Hamburg said Friday that he was framed.
Hamburg was involved in an infamous 30-year-old breach of contract case before the Wyoming Supreme Court over a woman, 100 sexual favors and a Pontiac.
“I was going with her,” he said. “And we made a deal for this car. She was supposed to give me 100 pieces, and I was supposed to give her the car. After 17, I gave the car to her early, put it in her name. And she told me, ‘Screw off, I’m not going to give you no more.’ And I said, ‘I’ll see you in court.’”
Hamburg lost before the high court.
He doesn’t expect to beat Enzi.
“You can’t win against money,” he said, referring to the sitting senator’s ability to raise funds.
But the temptation to run again is hard to resist. Campaigning is addictive, he said.
“You get to say the things you want to say. You’re calling me,” he told a reporter.
Out of state
Bryk, the Brooklyn resident in the U.S. Senate race, did not respond to a message from the Star-Tribune.
But Grayson, who splits his time between the Phoenix area and Brooklyn and is running for U.S. House, said he’s friends with Bryk and they run “to give Wyoming’s liberals someone to vote for, both of them.”
Grayson is 63. He’s semi-retired from a career in academics. He also is a fiction writer. In 1998, he was a writer in residence for two months at the UCross Foundation in Clearmont.
Grayson entered the race with the hopes that another Wyoming Democrat would enter. He sent his application to the Wyoming Secretary of State’s Office by mail. With the Memorial Holiday weekend, it didn’t arrive until Friday.
“I guess I ‘misunderestimated,’ as George Bush would say,” he said. “I thought it would show up on Wednesday and the (Democratic) Party would say, ‘We’re going to find someone who will run.’”