All of Albany County’s incumbents in the Wyoming Legislature held onto their seats Tuesday. While at least two of the races were close as results rolled in, the two Republicans and one Democrat facing challengers all came out on top.
House District 46
Incumbent Rep. Bill Haley, R-Centennial, clinched re-election in House District 46 by 373 votes, receiving 2,317. His opponent, Democrat Jackie Grimes, lost the race with 1,944 votes.
“I’d like to thank those voters who voted for me and appreciated the hard work I’ve put in for them,” Haley said. “I will continue to be a reasonable and conservative voice in Cheyenne.”
Grimes may have lost, but said she’s not going anywhere.
“I think it was a fantastic race, this was a really positive wonderful experience for me,” Grimes said. “I am just impressed with the number of people who turned out to vote. We had a really high turnout rate, which is phenomenal that people want to take part in the system. I’m still here, I’m not going anywhere. I’ll be back 2020.”
House District 14
Rep. Daniel Furphy, R-Laramie, narrowly won his re-election bid for House District 14, defeating Democrat Lorraine Saulino-Klein.
In what Furphy acknowledged was a “tight race,” he earned 48 percent of the vote, while Saulino-Klein won 46 percent.
“I give credit to my opponent,” Furphy said. “She worked very hard. It was an above-the-board campaign. There was nothing nasty between us.”
Saulino-Klein, a nurse who's Furphy's neighbor, said she relished the opportunity the campaign gave her to talk about key issues, like health care and education.
“I ran to win and I worked my tail off," she said. “I am thrilled I did so well. I’m in a district that’s set up to stay Republican. I ran against a nice guy and I’m also a nice gal. I went to 1,000 doors and my team went to 2,000 doors, and the first thing people did when I went to their door was talk about health care.”
Furphy, a first-term legislator, was unopposed in the primary.
He defeated Erin O’Doherty in the 2016 race, earning 60 percent of the vote.
He is a member of both the House Revenue Committee and the House Corporations, Elections & Political Subdivisions, as well as the Select Committee on Capital Financing & Investments.
House District 45
Albany County voters said “yes” to a third term in the Wyoming Legislature for Rep. Charles Pelkey, D-Laramie. As results started rolling in shortly after 8 p.m., Pelkey never gave up his lead in House District 45 over Republican Roxie Jackson Hensley in her first bid for office. With all precincts reporting, Pelkey bested his opponent 1,783-1,185.
Pelkey, a local attorney, said he likes being a Democrat in a red state.
“It’s always an uphill battle, but it certainly teaches you the art of working with other people,” he said.
While she was disappointed with the outcome, Hensley said she was thankful for all the support she’d received throughout the campaign. As to whether the first-time candidate might run again, Hensley said it’s certainly a possibility.
“There’s always a chance,” she said.
Pelkey was the only one of Albany County’s three Democrats in the Legislature to face a challenge, with Senate Minority Leader Chris Rothfuss, D-Laramie, and House Minority Leader Cathy Connolly, D-Laramie, unopposed in their re-election bids.
While Pelkey did not think he would seek a third term until his announcement earlier this year, Pelkey said he was encouraged by passing bills he’d been pushing for years, including two sponsored by the Joint Judiciary Committee and passed in 2018. He said he was also happy about the House’s work to preserve K-12 education funding during the most recent session, facing down a Senate that wanted larger funding reductions.
In the next two years, Pelkey said he hoped to work to keep public lands in public control, continue maintain education funding and passing a state antidiscrimination law.