The political ads, mailings and yard signs that spread across Park County in the run-up to the primary election were part of $57,500 worth of local campaigning.
Recent finance reports say that’s what 27 local candidates spent running for the Park County Commission, the Wyoming Legislature and the Powell and Cody city governments over the last four months.
The race that drew the most money — more than $35,500 — was the battle between five Republicans who sought a seat on the Park County Commission. The top two Republicans advanced to the general election.
Leading the pack in finances was Jake Fulkerson of Cody, who spent more than $15,000. No other commission candidate has even raised that much money in recent memory.
Fulkerson’s strategy apparently worked, as he finished second in the Republican primary and advanced to November’s election.
However, money was no guarantee of success.
Richard George spent nearly $9,500 on his commission campaign — the second most in the race — and he finished a close third. Meanwhile, incumbent commissioner Lee Livingston of Wapiti emerged as Republican voters’ top pick despite spending less than half of George and a third of Fulkerson.
The limited influence of spending was even more evident in the Republican race to represent the Powell area in the state House.
In an attempt to win back the seat from current Rep. Dan Laursen, R-Powell, former state representative Dave Blevins spent roughly $11,550 — more than four times what Laursen committed. However, Laursen won the rematch by more than 15 percentage points.
Jake Fulkerson, R — $15,105.61
The primary’s biggest fundraiser and spender, Fulkerson bought newspaper and radio ads, yard and magnetic signs, brochures, campaign photos and T-shirts.
Outside of $1,600 from him and his wife, Fulkerson’s funds came from a lengthy list of donors. He still had more than $1,900 left in his campaign coffers as of last month.
Richard George, R — $9,434.42
George purchased signs, newspaper ads, radio ads, mailings, business cards and stickers, among other expenses. All but $200 came from his own pocket. He finished a close third in the vote.
Boone Tidwell, R — $4,774.92
Tidwell’s campaign included radio, newspaper and Facebook ads, signs, fliers, cards and a hot dog meet and greet. Of his spending, $3,400 came from his own pocket, $1,000 from family and the rest from donations at campaign events. Tidwell finished a ways back of George in fourth place.
Lee Livingston, R* — $4,478
Livingston used money from donors to buy newspaper and radio ads and campaign signs. He reported having almost $400 left over for the general election, where he, Fulkerson and Democrat Larry Yonts will appear on the ballot.
Bob Ruckman, R — $2,019
Ruckman’s campaign costs included radio and newspaper ads and signs. Most of the money — $1,519 — came from him and his wife, while $500 came from several donors. Matching his rank in spending, Ruckman finished fifth in the results.
Scott Court, R — unknown
Court thumped embattled incumbent Rep. Sam Krone, R-Cody, by more than two votes to one in the primary. He’s more than a month late in filing his pre-primary campaign finance report (which was due Aug. 9). That could possibly subject him to monetary or other penalties.
Following state law, “Our office has forwarded the list of candidates who have failed to file any of their campaign finance reports on (to) the Wyoming Attorney General,” State Election Director Kai Schon told the Tribune Tuesday evening, in a statement provided by a spokesperson.
A civil action seeking up to $1,000 in penalties could theoretically be brought by the Attorney General's Office, one of Court's opponents or any political party for the violation. State law also says candidates who fails to file a report within 30 days of the due date are "ineligible to run as a candidate" until they make the filing, but Schon said that only applies if a they're first prosecuted and convicted of a failure to file.
In addition to the pre-primary report, Court has not yet filed his post-primary report, which was due Aug. 26.
Sam Krone, R* — $0
Krone didn’t spend a dime on his unsuccessful bid for re-election. He left $1,550 in the bank, mostly made up of donations from political action committees representing various interest groups.
Paul Fees, D — $131.91
Unopposed in the Democratic primary, Fees bought postage, a campaign website and some other minor expenses. As of Aug. 15, he had $3,663.09 socked away for the general election, where he’ll face Court and independent candidate Sandy Newsome.
Dave Blevins, R — $11,655.73
Blevins spent $10,555.73 out of his own pocket, plus $1,100 in donations. The money went toward newspaper ads, radio ads, campaign signs, mailers and a booth at the Park County Fair, among other expenses.
Dan Laursen, R* — $2,643.37
Although heavily outspent by Blevins, he still bought newspaper ads, mailers and other campaign materials. Roughly $1,000 came from his own pocket, $1,450 from PACs and $200 from a Powell resident.
Shane Tillotson, D — $0
Tillotson was unopposed in the Democratic primary and will now face Laursen in the general election.
David Northrup, R* — $867
Northrup bought some printed materials, a newspaper ad and a Park County Fair booth with the money he’s raised. He had $1,716.94 left over.
Mike Specht, D — $0
Specht decided to save the $1,348 he’s raised for his general election bout with Northrup.
Hank Coe, R* — $800.51
Coe bought some newspaper ads in Powell and Cody leading up to the primary. He still had $299.49 in his campaign coffers as of last month. Coe will face independent Cindy Baldwin in the general election.
Don Hillman* — $593.20
Hillman reported that he used his own money, but failed to report how he spent it. The mayor dominated the primary with 73.4 percent of the vote.
James Andrews — $0
Andrews appeared on a mailing sent to households around Park County that encouraged residents to “vote for unity” by supporting him for Powell mayor, George for commissioner, Charles Cloud for Cody Mayor, Doug Kirkham for Powell City Council, Glenn Nielson for Cody City Council and Darin Smith for U.S. Congress. However, Andrews’ report indicates he did not help pay for the mailing. He’ll have a rematch with Hillman in November.
Dawson Wolff — $0
Wolff was eliminated from the race with a third-place showing.
Matt Hall — $3,105.37
Hall bought yard signs, multiple billboard ads and campaign cards. He chipped in $50, while the rest came from donors. Hall reported having another $2,150 in the bank for a general election rematch with Charles Cloud, who edged him by just four votes in the primary.
Charles Cloud — $935.68
Cloud did not report what he spent his money on. About $300 came from his own pocket and the rest from others. He had $133.54 left over.
Tim Lamb — $0
Lamb was eliminated from the race with a third-place showing.
Between the seven candidates running for the Powell and Cody city councils, the only one to report spending money was Cody council contender Glenn Nielson. Nielson — who is unopposed in his bid to join the council — spent $1,000 on the “Unity” mailer.
Kirkham also appeared on that ad, but his report indicates he did not chip in on it. Kirkham was edged by Ward 3 Councilwoman Lesli Spencer in the primary, but they’ll have a rematch in the general election.
* Denotes the candidate is an incumbent.
Editor's note: This version modifies and expands the section about the possible repercussions for Court's tardy campaign finance reports.