Laursen tops Kost and Peterson in Senate District 19

David Peck

For the second straight election, voters in Wyoming Senate District 19 have chosen a challenger over an incumbent senator.

Four years ago it was RJ Kost of Powell unseating incumbent Sen. Ray Peterson of Cowley, and on Tuesday, Rep. Dan Laursen of Powell defeated Kost and Peterson in a three-way race for the Republican nomination for SD19.

Laursen received 2,580 votes between Big Horn and Park counties to 1,866 for Kost and 1,557 for Peterson, according to unofficial totals announced Tuesday night.

Laursen, the self-described true conservative in the race who has served eight years in the Wyoming House of Representatives, was especially strong in his home county, Park, where he topped Kost 1,697-1,137.

Peterson, urging voters to choose his ability to pick up where he left off in regard to Senate leadership positions, won his home county, garnering 1,161 votes in Big Horn County compared to 883 for Laursen and 729 for Kost, but he received only 396 votes in Park County.

Laursen was solid in Big Horn County, beating Kost in six of eight precincts and even beating Peterson in Frannie and Greybull and in the small portion of the Emblem precinct.

As expected, Peterson carried Lovell, but only by 146 votes, receiving 496 votes in Lovell to 350 for Laursen and 228 for Kost. He carried his hometown of Cowley with 255 votes to 86 for Laursen and 53 for Kost.

Peterson also carried Deaver and Byron by nine and 10 votes, respectively. He received 35 votes in Deaver to 26 for Laursen and 25 for Kost, and he finished the night with 75 votes in Byron to 65 for Kost and 57 for Laursen.

There was almost a three-way split in Greybull, with Laursen garnering 255 votes, Kost 250 and Peterson 224. Kost won Shell with 98 votes to 71 for Laursen and 46 for Peterson.

Laursen received 35 votes in Frannie, Peterson 30 and Kost 9.

There was no filed Democratic candidate in Senate District 19.

Post-race feelings

In a statement issued Wednesday morning, Laursen pledged to continue his conservative values in the Senate.

“First, I want to thank the Lord for the results; the Lord has a mission for me,” Laursen. “I will continue with the moral compass I have had for the last eight years representing the Powell area in the House, and bring it to the Senate. I am totally protecting life, the second amendment, protecting our private property rights and moral Christian values.

“I believe in the ALEC principals of free markets, limited government and federalism, which is the division of power between the federal government and the states.

“Thanks to the other candidates for putting their name in for this position. It was always good to see them and visit at the forums.”

Kost was philosophical in regard to his defeat.

“It has been a different climate out there, and there is a lot of frustration and strongly divided positions,” he said. “I honestly didn’t know where it was going to end up. It is the voice of the people, and that is what is important.  As for me, I am going to get back to my life. I have plenty of education groups I am on and will continue to pursue helping in education where I am asked to help. If re-elected, I will continue to serve on the Powell Hospital Board, as well. I will also start spending more time with my wife and enjoying a less hectic lifestyle.

“I was in for four years, and it was honestly the greatest honor I have had. To represent and do my best to help where needed and to make decisions I felt represented the wishes of the district people. I met a lot of wonderful people, and the experience will never be forgotten. I feel I am blessed and very lucky to have had all the privileges I have had over the years. How could I ask for anything more?”

 Peterson congratulated Laursen for running a strong race.

“Congratulations to Dan. He really went out and hit it. He was walking the streets, knocking on doors and spent a lot of time in his campaign. My hat off to him,” Peterson said. “I know that some challenges are ahead of us in Wyoming as far as school funding and other issues. We have to make some tough decisions, and I hope Dan is up to the decisions. I'm sure he will do a good job, and he's conservative, without a doubt.”