CHEYENNE – Wyoming Equality executive director and Democrat Sara Burlingame narrowly defeated Republican opponent Paul Johnson in Laramie County’s House District 44 during Tuesday’s midterm election.
Burlingame beat Johnson 51.6 percent to 48.2 percent, or by fewer than 70 votes.
The newly elected representative started working with the LGBTQ advocacy group Wyoming Equality three years ago as an education and outreach coordinator before being promoted to executive director about a year-and-a-half ago.
Democrat James Byrd left the seat to run for Wyoming secretary of state this year. He had represented the area for years, but there had been some indication of Republican influence: Byrd only won his 2016 election with 50.3 percent of the vote.
“I’m so proud to represent Wyoming,” Burlingame said. “I love my home, I love our people, and their willingness to vote me into office is such an enormous honor.”
She thanked Johnson and his family for an honest race, and said her win illustrates Wyoming’s inclusive nature.
“I love Wyoming, but my particular spot of it is downtown (Cheyenne), the West Edge, the south side, and to be able to represent them in the House and to share my community’s ideas about inclusion and civility, and bringing that to the Legislature, just fills me with a lot of pride,” she said.
Burlingame was the only Democrat to celebrate among Cheyenne’s Wyoming House candidates Tuesday – Republicans swept all of the other seats.