Can't Have That Cake And Eat It Too

On Friday, 05 March 2021, it was a pleasure to witness a groundbreaking legislative effort that actually addresses a Wyoming problem. The lack of residency terms for US House and US Senate resulting from US Supreme Court decisions beginning in the 1960s has made Wyoming seats, in particular, tasty morsels for outsiders to try to gobble up. This was starkly evident in the 2020 US Senate Republican Primary. Rather than try to buck the Court decision that states may not impose a length of residency, Representative Joe Macguire (R-Natrona) has proposed that residency in any other state precludes running in Wyoming. Rather than re-word, his testimony in House Corporations is provided below in its entirety.




Good Afternoon Wyoming Legislators,


This is to explain HB 163, Federal congressional elections – residency.

I appreciate your favorable consideration.


The issue is that every election cycle, out-of-state people file to run for our sole Wyoming US Congress and / or one of our two US Senate seats.

These are precious elected positions vitally important for the State of Wyoming.

We only have three representatives in Washington DC out of a total of 535 in the US Congress and US Senate. (that is .0056% of the total vote in the US Congress and US Senate! )


Out-of-state people run for US Congress and US Senate in Wyoming because, well,… they can.


The criteria to run for US House or US Senate are set out in US Constitution, Article 1 (House) and Section 2 (Senate) for these elected offices as follows:

1. Age - House 25 years of age / Senate 30 years of age,

2. US Citizenship - House 7 years / Senate 9 years,

3. “to be an inhabitant of that state when chosen.” (we now use the generic term residency)


While debating the framework of the US Constitution in Philadelphia back in 1787, the framers argued for state residency requirements of 1 year, 3 years, or 7 years.

Ultimately, the framers could not reach an agreement, so they left it up to the states to set their own residency requirements for these offices.

(Keep in mind in those days, the States were considered sovereign entities and federalism was a new concept.)


For years, states drafted their own residency requirements to run for US Congress and US Senate, typically anywhere from 1 – 5 years.


Then in 1964, an individual named Pierre Salinger was appointed to fill a vacated Senate seat for the State of California.

The appointment was challenged because Salinger did not meet the residency requirements of California to run for US Senate.

The case went to the California Supreme court, and in a divided decision, the court held that “states may not incorporate any particular measure of duration of time of residency.”

And, the US Senate found that state requirements for residency do not apply to Senate appointments,…

Thus Pierre Salinger was appointed to the US Senate to represent California -- Earning the nickname Lucky Pierre Salinger.


After the Salinger decision, candidates in several other states challenged state residency requirements, and based on the Sallinger decision, the US Supreme Court held:

“The term inhabitancy does not incorporate any measure of duration of time.”


All of these US Supreme Court decisions were split with some very strong dissents in favor of allowing states to set time of residency requirements.


The current case law is that -- States may not impose a length of residency to run for US Senate or US Congress.


The proposed bill does not contain any new residency length or terms or any other requirement to run for US Congress or US Senate.


The bill does say that the candidate may not be a resident of any other state or be receiving the benefits of residency from any other state at the time of filing – please see the application language page 4 line 11.


So in other words, a candidate does not necessarily have to be a resident of Wyoming, but, they cannot be claiming residency in any other state at the time of filing, or at the time of election.

(by the way this is a lower threshold than any other elected official in the State)


Thus a homeless person hitchhiking across I-80 can, when he gets to Cheyenne, can walk into the Secretary of State’s office and file to run for US Congress for the State of Wyoming.


On the other hand, a person that lives in California, owns a home in California, sends their kids to public school in California, has a California driver’s license, and resident fishing license, …

Is not eligible to file or run for US Congress or US Senate in Wyoming.

The candidate must choose inhabitance (residency) in California or Wyoming.

The person cannot have it both ways (I think the saying is cannot have your cake and eat it too.)


The goal is make out-of-state people stop and think when they fill out the form to run for Wyoming US Congress or US Senate.

Currently the filing fee for either position is $200.00 payable to the Wyoming Secretary of State.

HB 148, if passed, will raise the filing fee up to $750.


If an out-of-state candidate wants to challenge this statute – let’em have at it.

I think that the current US Supreme Court would seize on this opportunity to return control back to the states – the obvious and logical goal of the framers of the constitution.


This is a problem for all States.


Thank you,


Joe MacGuire HD 35

69 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All