The father of the 20-year-old Wyoming Marine who was killed during the recent U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan has filed to run for statehouse.
Jim McCollum, a Republican, threw his hat in the ring for House District 16 against Rep. Mike Yin, D-Jackson. Yin was first elected in 2018 when he soundly beat a Republican challenger. He ran unopposed in 2020.
“I decided to run because Jackson and Teton County need a voice in Cheyenne,” McCollum said. “Unfortunately, in the politically divisive climate, Mr. Yin has been basically ineffective for his two terms.”
House District 16 encompasses most of downtown Jackson, one of the wealthiest enclaves in the nation and historically a Democratic stronghold.
McCollum is the father of Rylee McCollum, who died in a suicide bombing at the Kabul airport in Afghanistan. He and 12 other service members were providing security at the airport as it was being overwhelmed with evacuees trying to leave the county after the Taliban’s takeover.
More than 400 people attended a memorial service for Rylee McCollum at a Jackson ranch in October. In September, hundreds attended a police-escorted procession for his remains upon returning to Jackson.
McCollum said he declined to talk with Biden at an event following the Kabul bombing, and called the president’s decision-making “absolutely backwards.”
“Everything he has done was completely wrong,” McCollum said on Sean Hannity’s show in September. “I can’t blame the entire thing on one administration... we’re 20 years into this.
“But when it came down to pulling people out, pulling troops out, and leaving the country, you couldn’t have picked a worse way to go about it.”
A Bondurant native, Rylee McCollum was at the time of his death expecting his first child in three weeks.
His widow, Jiennah, joined his sisters, Roice and Cheyenne, in a defamation lawsuit against actor Alec Baldwin that was dismissed for jurisdictional reasons this month. The family’s lawyer said they plan to refile the case in a different court.
Jim McCollum was born and raised in Western Wyoming, according to his website. He makes a living as a log and timber craftsman constructing things like log homes.
Yin is not originally from Wyoming and moved here within the last few years, but he doesn’t think that’s a drawback.
“I don’t like the ‘We can only elect the people that are from here. It’s almost anti-immigration,” Yin said. “My focus is not on whether I am from here or I am not from here. I am looking to make Wyoming a family place people can raise their families.”
Typically, an incumbent has an automatic advantage because of name recognition on the ballot — people vote for who they know. That’s a little different in this race, as McCollum has gained prominence over the last few months.
“I think we both have name recognition at this point, so it is what it is,” Yin said.