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Barrasso, Hageman face challengers as they seek reelection

Three Republicans and two Democrats filed to run against Wyoming’s incumbents to represent the state in Washington D.C.

The U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. (U.S. Department of State/Creative Commons/cropped by WyoFile)

by Maggie Mullen, WyoFile

Two of Wyoming’s three congressional seats will be on the ballot this year, and both incumbents — U.S. Sen. John Barrasso and Rep. Harriet Hageman — are seeking re-election. Each will face Republican and Democratic challengers. 

Neither race is likely to garner the kind of international attention thrust upon the state two years ago when Hageman ousted then-U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney with the backing of former President Donald Trump. That said, Trump will almost certainly play a role in both of this year’s congressional races. In May, Barrasso secured Trump’s endorsement while Hageman’s support for the former president has been steadfast.

Both incumbents head into the primaries with serious cash on hand, according to the latest Federal Election Commission data. That’s particularly true for Barrasso, who has raised $7.3 million in campaign funds. Hageman, meanwhile, has about $532,000. 

The pool of challengers includes political newcomers and a couple repeat candidates. Here’s who is on the ballot: 

U.S. Senate

Reid Rasner is running as a Republican to represent Wyoming in the U.S. Senate. (Courtesy)

Reid Rasner

Announcing his candidacy more than a year before the 2024 primary, Reid Rasner was the earliest candidate to enter the fray against Barrasso. He is running as a Republican.  

After graduating from Natrona County High School in Casper, Rasner owned and operated Wyoming Glass before selling it in 2009. He went on to attend the University of Wyoming, sold real estate in Laramie and Cheyenne and earned his financial advisor license. In 2016, he moved to Las Vegas to work in real estate, but eventually returned to Casper. 

If elected, Rasner said his top priorities would be Wyoming’s energy industry, southern border security and congressional term limits. 

“We’re funding the entire world right now on the taxpayers’ shoulders,” Rasner said. “We’re coming up on another budget session here in a few weeks, where they’re going to have another huge omnibus bill come out and we’ve got to get our spending under control and balance the budget.” 

Rasner has campaigned heavily across the state. A recent event in Riverton, by Rasner’s own count, was his 130th speaking engagement since his August announcement. 

So far, that’s cost his campaign almost $181,000, according to the latest FEC data. Altogether, his campaign has collected about $262,200 — all but about $25,000 of that has come from Rasner’s own pocket via candidate loans. 

Rasner said he doesn’t expect his campaign to slow down anytime soon.

“We’re going to be talking to anybody and everybody to get our message out and make sure that the disaster of John Barrasso doesn’t happen again,” Rasner said. 

In May, his online campaigning caught headlines, and the ire of Hageman, after Rasner posted photos of himself and the congresswoman that Hageman felt inaccurately implied her endorsement. The two subsequently sent one another dueling cease-and-desist letters, but Rasner said it’s water under the bridge. 

“Listen, I support Harriet,” Rasner said. “She has great policies. I have no problems with Rep. Hageman. And I don’t think she has any problems with me. We had a disagreement. And we’ve moved on.”

John Holtz

John Holtz is running as a Republican to represent Wyoming in the U.S. Senate. (Courtesy)

Also running as a Republican, John Holtz is seeking to unseat Barrasso — an endeavor he also took on in 2018. More recently, he ran against U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis in 2020. He failed to capture more than 3% of the vote in either election, but is aiming to earn more support this year. 

“We need somebody with some experience that knows how to perform in a crisis,” Holtz, a retired U.S. Air Force veteran, told WyoFile. “It’s time for a change.”

When it comes to the U.S. providing military support to foreign conflicts, Holtz said “you have to look at both going in and having a plan to get out.” 

“If we don’t, the world is going to be in worse shape than it is now,” Holtz said. 

Born in Omaha, Holtz grew up to become an Eagle Scout and an attorney. He attended the University of Wyoming for his undergraduate studies before earning his law degree from St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, Texas. 

As a judge in Converse County, Holtz said he helped establish the state’s current circuit court system. After 12 years on the bench, he moved to Laramie to work in private practice. He’s also admitted to practice in Texas and California. 

If elected to the Senate, Holtz said his top priority would be Wyoming’s energy industry. There are too many regulations, Holtz said, “that’s basically making it more difficult simply to produce what we have in abundance.”

“Wyoming is a treasure trove,” Holtz said. “We have energy, materials that no one else has. And you know what happens if you take a lump of coal and you squeeze it long enough and hard enough, it turns into a diamond.”

Scott Morrow is running as a Democrat to represent Wyoming in the U.S. Senate. (Courtesy)

Scott Morrow

When the Wyoming Democratic Party asked Scott Morrow to run, he “had no choice but to say yes,” Morrow told WyoFile. 

It’s critical that voters have choices, Morrow said. 

“I don’t have any expectations that this is a cakewalk,” Morrow said. “But I gotta get out there and try. I’ve been reaching across the aisle to Republicans since day one, since back in 1978 when I joined the Postal Service.”

Morrow is retired from the United States Postal Service, where he spent a career organizing and leading the American Postal Workers Union chapters in Colorado and California. He worked his way up from union steward to director of industrial relations, and is currently president of the retiree chapter chartered by the APWU, which Morrow said is the largest retiree chapter in the region. 

“Basically what I do is dial Congress, write Congress, and try to [persuade] these elected officials,” Morrow said, to support his constituents. But that’s left him disappointed in Wyoming’s delegation. 

“They hate Social Security. They hate Medicare. They hate the Civil Service Retirement System. They hate the Federal Employees Retirement System,” Morrow said. 

Born in Denver, Morrow grew up in Colorado as a “straight-A student and a championship wrestler,” he said. 

Afterward, he landed at Antelope Valley College in California, but ended up leaving to raise a family before completing a degree. Morrow went on to have five children, whom he raised mostly as a single parent after his spouse left the family, he said. In 2004, he moved to Wyoming. 

Addressing poverty would be Morrow’s top priority as a member of Congress. 

“Kids going to bed hungry. That’s the most pressing issue to me,” Morrow said. Another priority for Morrow would be firearm suicides. 

“I think that at the federal level we could put some reasonable safety measures on guns,” Morrow said. 

U.S. House

Kyle “El” Cameron is running as a Democrat for Wyoming’s lone seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. (Courtesy)

Kyle “El” Cameron

Like Morrow, Kyle “El” Cameron is running as a Democrat and has also been discouraged by what she says is a lack of support for workers by Wyoming’s congressional delegation. 

“I looked at Hageman’s voting record, and I stumbled onto the [American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations] website. And in every single case, Harriet Hageman has voted against workers,” Cameron said. 

The AFL-CIO is a national trade union center, which puts together a legislative scorecard. Hageman’s score was, in fact, what ultimately moved Cameron to run. 

“I will stand with workers and I will stand with legislation that supports our workers, and supports and strengthens our unions, protects our workers when they try to speak out about workplace harassment and toxic environments,” Cameron said. 

Born and raised in Cheyenne, Cameron grew up in a family of political organizers, which she said shaped her understanding of the importance of civic engagement and participation. 

“This is democracy. This is the world that I live in — this ability to speak up about issues that I care deeply about,” Cameron said. “To put your name on a ballot is a duty, a responsibility and an honor.”

Cameron graduated from Central High School before pursuing higher education. That includes a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wyoming in social sciences and two master’s degrees — one from Colorado State University, the other from Walden University. 

Cameron’s career has mostly been in grant writing and program management. She currently lives in Laramie. 

“My No. 1 concern for all Wyomingites is our access to legal and safe abortion,” Cameron said. “Abortion is necessary for us to be able to continue in our democracy. Women have the right to do what they want with their body’s autonomy, and your moral right may not infringe on my bodily autonomy and what I choose for myself.”

Cameron said she would support federal legislation that guarantees access to abortion on a national basis. 

Steve Helling is running as a Republican for Wyoming’s sole seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. (Courtesy)

Steven Helling

Running as a Republican this time, Steven Helling previously ran as a Democrat for Wyoming’s U.S. House seat in 2022. Distinct from his opponents, Helling ran as a pro-Trump Democrat. 

“I was hoping to give the Wyoming voters a chance to send a message to Washington D.C. that the Democratic Party was out of control,” Helling said. “I quickly found out that ‘Democrats for Trump’ was not popular.” 

Helling’s support of Trump remains steadfast, but he regrets registering as a Democrat. He changed his registration to Republican in September 2022, and said he plans to be “a Republican for the rest of my life.”

Helling, an attorney, graduated from the University of Wyoming with his law degree in 1981. 

“I have resolved literally hundreds of disputes. I’ve interpreted dozens of laws. I’ve served on boards and commissions, including the Colorado Springs Ethics Commission for six years, and the Legal Aid Services Board here in Casper for nine years,” Helling said. 

Up until about two years ago, Helling lived in Colorado Springs. He practiced law there for about two decades, but eventually, he and his wife moved to Casper to be closer to his children and grandchildren. 

Helling’s top concern as a congressman would be nuclear power. 

“If elected, I would move to have a moratorium on all nuclear-power construction throughout the United States until such time as there was a permanent storage site fully built and operational for our nuclear waste,” Helling said. 

“Certainly that’s something that Congress could address, but it’s also something our state legislators could address and declare a moratorium within Wyoming. But the financial pull is so great, I’m really fearful that we’re being led by the pied piper down a bad path.”

Helling said he would also support national legislation to limit abortions. 

The primary election is Aug. 20. Early voting for most residents starts July 23.

For more of WyoFile’s election coverage, click here.

This article was originally published by WyoFile and is republished here with permission. WyoFile is an independent nonprofit news organization focused on Wyoming people, places and policy.