CHEYENNE - The Democratic Party has picked up possibly as many as two seats in the Wyoming House of Representatives, according to unofficial results. The Republican Party still handily controls both the House and Senate.
The results in three House races are still too close for The Associated Press to declare winners. In all three, unofficial results show Democrats beating their Republican opponents.
In the closest race, in House District 22, front-runner Democrat Jim Roscoe of Wilson has an unofficial four-vote lead over Republican Charles Stough of Pinedale. Voters cast 5,778 votes in the race.
Wyoming Secretary of State Max Maxfield said Wednesday that the county clerks in all the counties included in portions of House District 22 - Lincoln, Teton and Sublette - will perform a recount in the race before they turn in their results to the state canvassing board by the end of the week. The state board will certify all election results next week.
In the House District 8 race, incumbent Democrat Lori Millin of Cheyenne leads Republican challenger Bob Nicholas of Cheyenne by 167 votes out of 4,709 cast. In the House District 59 race, Democrat Mike Gilmore of Casper leads Republican Tanise Lavering of Mills by 123 votes out of 2,521 votes cast.
Going into the election, Republicans outnumbered Democrats in the House 43-17. If the unofficial results are certified and they win all three remaining races, the Democrats would pick up two seats.
"We won all three unofficially, which brings us to 19 members," said Rep. Debbie Hammons, D-Worland, the outgoing House Minority Whip.
Hammons says the increase would give the Democratic Party enough seats to have three members on all standing nine-member House committees. She said the party currently has three members on some of the committees and only two on others. The Appropriations Committee has only seven members.
Hammons said there were only 14 Democrats in the House when she entered the Legislature four years ago.
"I feel pretty good about that," Hammons said of the prospect of gaining two seats. "The overall trend over time is to increase our overall membership and participation."
Unofficial results show Republicans defeated Democrats in all five contested races in the state Senate. Republicans ran unopposed in nine Senate races while Democrats ran unopposed in two.
Going into the election, Republicans outnumbered Democrats in the state Senate by a margin of 23-7. According to the unofficial election results, that margin in Senate will remain the same.
Unofficial results show the following senators won contested races:
• Sen. Jim Anderson of Glenrock won 74 percent of the vote to defeat Democrat Jay Wright.
• Sen. Wayne Johnson of Cheyenne won 68 percent of the vote to defeat Democrat Phyllis Sherard.
• Sen. Phil Nicholas of Laramie won 59 percent of the vote to defeat Democrat Neil Harrison.
• Sen. Bill Landen of Casper won 61 percent of the vote to defeat Democrat Bert Toews.
• Sen. Kit Jennings of Casper won 60 percent of the vote to defeat Democrat Erich Frankland.
House Speaker Roy Cohee, R-Casper, said Wednesday that he attributes the lack of any major turnovers in the balance of power in the Legislature to the public being satisfied about its performance.
"It indicates that the people of Wyoming are fairly satisfied with their political product," Cohee said. "I think overall, generally, people are satisfied with the way that their Legislature has handled itself over the last four to six years."
Cohee won re-election without opposition in the general election. Although it's tradition for House speakers to step down after they serve as speaker, Cohee has said he wants to continue to serve because the House needs more continuity.
Bill Luckett, executive director of the Wyoming Democratic Party, said his party is pleased to see gains.
"We're very pleased to have hung on to every single one of our seats," Luckett said Wednesday. "There were a couple of seats we were concerned about going into last night's races."
Luckett said the Democratic Party was hoping to pick up more seats. However, he said it's tough for Democrats to register gains in a presidential election year because heightened voter interest draws more people to the polls, highlighting the Republican Party's voter registration advantage.