Sublette incumbents win Aug. 16 primary
Supporters boost Vickrey, Bradley steps up, Kainer files
SUBLETTE COUNTY – With nine primary candidates vying for two seats on the Sublette County Board of Commissioners – and one of them an incumbent hoping to keep his – voters on Aug. 16 selected current commissioner Doug Vickrey of Daniel and hopeful Mack Bradley of Marbleton as the GOP’s general election candidates.
The primary elections included national, state, county and precinct offices and of the total 3,626 ballots cast countywide, 43 were Democratic and 3,583 Republican voters, according to the Sublette County Clerk’s Office.
Clerk Carrie Long said the county had 5,269 registered voters and on Tuesday, “the polling places are registering a lot of new voters as well.”
Outside of the well-padded county commission candidates’ roster, some – but not all – incumbents saw challenges. Those winning the GOP nominations as the only candidate include Sublette County Sheriff KC Lehr, Treasurer Emily Paravicini, Assessor Laila Illoway, Coroner Curt Covill and Clerk of District Court Janet Montgomery.
No Democratic candidates filed for county seats.
Commissioner Vickrey ran to maintain his seat for another term. With chair Joel Bousman opting to not run again after decades of public service, Vickrey faced challengers from around the county with differing perspectives on growth, the economy and government.
Vickrey won with 1,591 votes cast by 25 percent of voters, strong across all precincts. His countywide support dimmed slightly in the Big Piney and Marbleton precincts, where candidate Mack Bradley of Marbleton edged him out. Bradley’s vote count of 1,170 pushed him toward Bousman’s seat.
Robin Schamber followed Bradley with 996 votes, Lynn Bernard with 882, Andrew Zook with 543, Tyler Maxfield with 362, Gary Sanders with 295, Bob Jones with 259 and Jim L. Brost with 203. Twenty votes were write-ins.
Wednesday, an “elated” Vickrey said from his air-conditioned tractor that “in a nutshell” the strong showing brought “relief.” It shows his “old guard supporters appreciate” that he will raise his hand and “say no” if he questions a county-level decision.
He commended fellow candidates for running a good, clean race – “no dirty laundry. As many people as there were, it was very well done.”
Vickrey said he’d been reassured before the primary he had widespread support “but until it actually happened –I feel very honored. I look forward to new challenges with a new commissioner.”
He and Mack Bradley are not strangers – they are cousins, Vickrey said.
He joked, “Mack’s going to get his eyes opened. No, he will be fine. He’s his own person.”
Bradley was also a little awed Wednesday with great support in Big Piney and Marbleton, where he served as a councilmember for many years.
“I guess first of all thanks for all of the county’s support,” he said. “I was surprised by all of the voters that turned out to support me – Big Piney and Marbleton did come out. It was a great turnout.”
Both acknowledged that something could change the usually final primary results, whether it’s a write-in campaign or someone filing as an independent for the general election.
“If there’s a challenger, I hope the voters who supported me will return to show their support,” Bradley said.
Sublette County Deputy Attorney Clayton Melinkovich is not an incumbent but he was brought on board by current county attorney Mike Crosson, who chose to not run for a second term.
Melinkovich secured 1,899 votes to challenger former county deputy attorney Stan Cannon’s 1,026.
“I'm grateful for the overwhelming support and the trust this county's voters have in me and I am committed to proving that I am worthy of it! My door will always be open and I will always answer my phone,” Melinkovich said on Wednesday. “I promise that your voices will be heard and your concerns will be addressed.”
Incumbent Sublette County Clerk Carrie Long with 2,245 votes bested challenger Kris Bacheller with 1,022 votes.
“I would like to say thanks to the Sublette County voters for having confidence in me and my staff,” Long said. “We all make every effort to be respectful and professional and do a good job. And, we will continue in the same manner.”
As the county’s elections official, Long answered “what if” questions about the general election ahead in November.
What if a losing primary candidate wanted to try again?
What if someone is upset about his or her remaining candidate and wants to step in?
“When someone wants to do a ‘write in’ campaign, they just start spreading the word,” Long said of losing primary candidates. “They don’t have to file anything with my office.”
That has happened after past primaries with losing primary candidates mounting write-in campaigns for another go at the elected office, for example after the 2014 primary when a losing challenger undertook to displace longtime county clerk Mary Lankford.
Others have started late campaigns for the office of sheriff in years past.
For example, 81 voters wrote in names not on the sheriff’s ballot, 129 on the county attorney’s ballot and even with nine commissioner candidates, 20 more names were written in, according to primary election results.
Long verified Thursday that former county attorney Clay Kainer completed filing his petition as an “independent” candidate for the general election against current candidate Clayton Melinkovich.
The petition calls for 2 percent of the county’s registered voters at the last general election – in this case, 100 of the county’s then-registered 5,000 voters – to sign in support for the hopeful candidate
The Wyoming Secretary of State’s website explains how an independent candidate can run for a “partisan public office.”
“An unsuccessful candidate at a primary election is not eligible to petition for the same office at the next general election,” it says.
“A petition for a county office shall be signed by registered electors, resident in the jurisdiction and eligible to vote for the petitioner, not numbering less than 2 percent of the total number of votes cast in the county for U.S. Representative in the last election.”
The filing deadline is Aug. 29 – 70 days before the general election, and Clerk Long must approve an independent petition and collect the fee.