A bill that would mandate runoff elections in Wyoming primary elections where no candidate gets a majority of the votes cast in the first round of voting now faces a third and decisive vote in the Wyoming Senate.

The final vote [assuming there is not a reconsideration vote] will probably take place tomorrow [March 23].

Senate File 145 would apply to the five statewide elected offices--governor, secretary of state, treasurer, auditor, and state superintendent.

It would also apply to legislative races and the state's federal offices, U.S. Senator and U.S. House. But it would not apply to local races, such as county commission or city council. The original bill would have taken effect next year for the 2022 elections.

 Under the bill, Wyoming primary elections would be moved from August to May, and if any runoffs are needed, they would then be held in August. That would conceivably give clerks across the state less than two months to get ready for the primary election after the results of re-districting are known.

In response to those concerns, the bill was amended so that it would not take effect until 2023. At one point, Donald Trump Jr. had come out in favor of the bill as a way to defeat Rep. Liz Cheney in 2022. But because the bill was amended in committee to no take effect until the 2024 elections, it will no longer affect Cheney in 2022, assuming she runs for re-election.

Supporters of the bill point to several statewide primary elections in recent years in which the primary winner received well under 50 percent of the votes cast in the primary election. One such vote happened in the 2018 GOP gubernatorial primary election, in which Democrats mounted a phone campaign urging people to register as Republicans and vote for Mark Gordon rather than his rival, Foster Friess.

Gordon, who was widely perceived as more moderate than the ultra-conservative Friess, won the nomination with about 33 percent of the votes in a seven-candidate field. Friess finished second with 25 percent. Had Senate File 145 been in effect, Gordon and Friess would have met in a runoff election to determine the party nominee.

Whether the Democratic phone campaign had any significant outcome on the primary is a matter of some dispute in Wyoming political circles.

But many Wyoming conservatives feel their candidates would have a better chance of winning runoff elections than they do under the current system, where multiple conservative candidates often split the vote and end up losing to more moderate candidates who may face a smaller number of like-minded rivals.

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