Kenny Sailors Political Races

by: John Waggener, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming


1) 1954 Election for Wyoming State House of Representatives

Kenny Sailors was elected to serve as a state representative from Laramie County for the 1955 and 1956 sessions.

Unofficial results (and not all precincts reporting) for the primary election were obtained from the August 18, 1954, edition of the Wyoming State Tribune (Cheyenne.) Kenny Sailors led all candidates in the primary. In the packed field of republicans, the vote tally included 3,632 votes for Sailors. He was followed by J.B Brown of Pine Bluffs (votes not listed); William J. Walton 3525; Mrs. Shirley Boice, 3511; Tom Searl 3410; Howard Burke 3026; John Foose Jr. 2093; and John O’Leary 2004. On the democratic side, the primary election was led by W.A. Norris with 3,612 and Jimmie Keelan with 2996. 14 candidates ran on the democratic ticket in the primary.  

The results for the general election were obtained from the November 4, 1954 edition of the Wyoming State Tribune (Cheyenne.) Mrs. Boice Jr. was the largest vote getter, and she retained her seat in the house. Kenny Sailors was the only other republican elected. The other four seats went to democrats. Laramie County gained the largest number of democratic seats in the state. In the previous legislative session, all six seats were held by republicans. The total makeup of the House was 32 Republicans and 24 Democrats.

Sailors served in the House with fellow Laramie County Representatives Mrs. Shirley Boice (wife of Fred D. Boice Jr.) (R), James C. Hunter (D), R.J. “Jimmie” Keelan (D), Maurice E. Mann (D), and W.A. Norris Jr. (D).

It is noted that Kenny Sailors had been the City of Cheyenne Recreation Director. It is noted that Mrs. Boice was the 7th female elected to the house in Wyoming. For the record, it should be noted that Kenny Sailors was not a legislator in 1953-1954. Numerous newspaper accounts over time have reported this.

2) 1960 United States House of Representative Primary Race

Kenny Sailors was narrowly defeated by William Henry Harrison in the 1960 primary election for U.S. House of Representatives.

Information for the primary election, which was held on August 16, 1960, was obtained from the “Minutes of the Meeting of the State Canvassing Board held in the Office of the Secretary of State, September 1, 1960, Wyoming State Archives records. Other general information regarding the outcome in the general election was obtained from the Wyoming Blue Book Vol. III and from the Western Political Quarterly 1960-61 edition.

Kenny Sailors ran in a crowded field of Republicans. The results are as follows:

  1. William Henry Harrison: 12,896 (45,200 votes = 29%)
  2. K.L. “Kenny” Sailors: 10, 838 (lost by 2,058 votes, 24%)
  3. Mark Cox: 7,476
  4. Walt Kingham: 7,272
  5. R.L. Dick Greene: 6,718

The Democratic candidates included Hepburn T. Armstrong (21,137 votes), Dudley Miles (attorney from Rawlins) (16,775), and George Posvar (1,703.) In the general election, William Henry Harrison was victorious over Hepburn Armstrong.  The results were 70,241 to 64,090. The general election results were taken from the 1960-1961 edition of the Western Political Quarterly.

William Henry Harrison was the great great grandson of President William Henry Harrison and grandson of President Benjamin Harrison. He was an attorney in Sheridan.

To see a pdf file of Kenny's primary flyer, click here.

3) 1962 U.S. Senate Primary Race

Kenny Sailors was defeated by Milward Simpson in the 1962 U.S. Senate primary election.

Information for the results were obtained from the September 7, 1962 Wyoming State Tribune (Cheyenne.) On the republican ticket, Milward Simpson had 30,124 votes (59%), and Kenny Sailors had 20,383 (41 %.) J.J. “Joe” Hickey ran unopposed on the democratic ticket. In the general election, Simpson defeated Hickey 69,043 (58%) to 50,329 (42 %.) Information for the results of the general elections came from the Western Political Quarterly 1962-1963 edition.

It should be noted that there was strong resentment toward Hickey after his “self-appointment” to the U.S. Senate. Edwin Keith Thomson was elected to the U.S. Senate in the November 8, 1960 election. He died just one month later on December 9, 1960. He was to officially take office on January 3, 1961. Hickey, who was governor at the time, resigned from his post and appointed Jack Gage to be governor. Gage then appointed Hickey to serve in the vacant senate seat. This information was taken from the Wyoming Blue Book, Volume III, biographical profiles, and from the 1962-1963 Western Political Quarterly.

Milward Simpson was an attorney from Cody. He was elected governor of Wyoming in Wyoming in 1954, serving for one term 1955-1959. In his bid for election in 1958 he was defeated by J.J. Hickey.

To see page 1 of Kenny's Senate Primary Brochure in PDF form, click here

To See page 2 of Kenny's Senate Primary Brochure in PDF form, click here

4) 1964 U.S. Senate Primary Race

Kenny Sailors was defeated by John Wold in the 1964 U.S. Senate primary election.

Information for the results of the primary election were taken from the September 6, 1964 Wyoming State Tribune (Cheyenne.) John Wold of Casper had 23,278 votes and Kenny Sailors had 21,522 votes (51.8% to 48.2 %.) Sailors lost by 1,756 votes. On the democratic ticket, Incumbent Gale McGee had 38,140 to 4,535 votes for Wayne Kinney. In the general election, McGee defeated Wold (54% to 46%). Wold is quoted as saying “1964 was just a bad year to run for office as a Republican in American” (1964-1965 edition of Western Political Quarterly.)

John Wold was a Casper businessman and geologists. His interests were in coal development and oil and gas. He was the chairman of the Wyoming Republican Party from 1960-1964.

Kenny was also the Wyoming state chairman for Barry Goldwater’s presidential campaign in 1964.