CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — Wyoming voters head to the polls Tuesday to choose from six Republican candidates for governor and to decide whether a wealthy outsider has made his case to oust an influential U.S. senator.
The governor's race is Wyoming's most contested since 2010, when Matt Mead won 29 percent of the vote to beat six others in the Republican primary.
Two others came within 1 and 3 points of winning that year, showing just how much of a toss-up a crowded race can be. That year's race also showed how important a primary in deep-red Wyoming can be: Mead went on to easily win election in 2010 and re-election in 2014.
This year, the largest share of Republican governor votes could go to any of at least four candidates, including investor and philanthropist Foster Friess, State Treasurer Mark Gordon, attorney Harriet Hageman and businessman Sam Galeotos.
Friess is a major donor to Christian causes, potentially helping him secure Wyoming's religious vote. Gordon, having served two terms, is the only Republican running with significant experience in government or elected office.
Galeotos, a successful dot-com executive, has pitched technology as Wyoming's best option for diversifying and improving its economy, which is dependent on fossil fuel extraction.
Hageman, far more than the others, has criticized her opponents — mainly for what she says is too much liberal thinking. A natural resource attorney for ranchers, she could claim much of Wyoming's farm-and-ranch vote.
The winner will likely face state Rep. Mary Throne in the general election. Throne faces three little-known opponents in the Democratic gubernatorial primary.
In the Republican U.S. senate primary, Jackson Hole business investor Dave Dodson has tapped at least $1 million of his own funds to beat Sen. John Barrasso.
Dodson advocates term limits and more action to bring down health care costs. Barrasso for years has been one of the most outspoken advocates of repealing President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act, an effort that fell just short of passing in the Senate last year.
Dodson has criticized Barrasso for taking corporate PAC money, though much of his own individual contributions — and Barrasso's — come from out of state.
Wilson businessman Gary Trauner is unopposed for the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate.
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