It's Larsen in big HD54 GOP primary

Aug 22, 2012 By Christina George, Staff Writer

Republican Lloyd Larsen and Democratic candidate Bruce Palmer will advance to the Nov. 6 general election after winning their races in Tuesday's primary election. The candidates were competing for the Wyoming House District 54 seat.

According to unofficial results, with all precincts reporting and absentee ballots counted, Larsen secured roughly 50 percent (978) of the 1,942 ballots cast.

Eileen Oakley came in second with 601 votes, or nearly 31 percent, followed by Andrew Gramlich with 320 votes, or more than 16 percent. There were three votes for write-in candidates.

In the Democratic race, unofficial results indicated 495 votes were cast for Palmer, which is nearly 64 percent of the 777 total ballots submitted. Michelle Hoffman trailed with 269 votes or almost 35 percent. There was one vote filed for a write-in candidate.

The announcement made last spring by longtime state Rep. Del McOmie, R-Lander, about his decision not to seek re-election, resulted in the run for the House District 54 seat to be one of the largest in Fremont County.

"I was surprised, pleasantly surprised to win the primary," Larsen said. "Frankly, I think the competition with Eileen and Andy was significant. I never felt like I was in the lead anytime in the campaign, and I felt like I had to work hard every day. I'm quite pleased, very pleased."

Larsen learned the news while at his house with friends.

"Right now what I'm digesting is the Republican Party has selected me to represent them in the general election," he said. "And I take that very seriously because I know here in Lander, people like to be represented by people whom they can have contact with, who they can talk with and discuss with or growl at, and I hope they are going to hold me accountable."

Larsen said he was solemn about the trust voters placed in him to this point.

"I just have to make sure I'm worthy of that confidence," he said. "I think the general election is going to be a tough race, and I think Bruce has done a wonderful job getting out and meeting people in the primary election."

"It will be a fun campaign," Larsen continued. "So off we go."

Oakley and Gramlich could not be reached for comment.

Democratic race

Palmer and Hoffman commended one another for their efforts during the campaign.

"I think Michelle ran a great campaign," Palmer said of his challenger.

Hoffman noted Palmer's campaign work, adding, "Bruce put a lot of work in. ... And I called Bruce and congratulated him."

She said it was hard to campaign while serving as superintendent of Fremont County School District 14.

"It is what it is," she said about the loss. "I'm good with it."

Palmer, who is a School District 1 trustee in Lander, said he learned about the win after Tuesday night's board meeting.

"I walked out in the parking lot, and several board members were in the parking lot listening to the radio," he said. "Now, I am at the house with a few friends."

Palmer said he thinks he ran a great campaign and worked hard.

"I'm psyched with how it came out," he said. "A lot of folks helped out. ... It was definitely a team effort."

The candidate said he planned to take Wednesday off from the campaign trail and take his son to the University of Wyoming for freshman orientation.

"So we are taking a drive to Laramie, and then we'll figure it out from there," he said about campaigning for the general election.

He anticipates a similar operation toward the November race such as door-to-door campaigning, meeting with people and a strong electronic presence.

"I think this upcoming election will be interesting," he said, noting "quite distinctive" differences between he and Larsen.

"It will be a great opportunity for Lander residents to make choices," Palmer said.

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