Former Wyoming Congresswoman Cynthia Lummis path to the U.S. Senate seemed clearer than ever before when she visited Laramie on Wednesday.
Even so, Lummis said isn't considering her securing the Republican nomination a sure thing.
Ive always found that running aggressively as if its going to be the tightest race in history is the best way to run these campaigns, Lummis told the Boomerang.
Her visit to the Gem City of the Plains came two days after former Wyoming gubernatorial candidate Foster Friess, who was openly favored in that race by President Donald Trump, announced he would not seek the seat being vacated by U.S. Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo. The year began with U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., deciding against a run for the Senate seat she once desired, dashing speculation shed seek a seat in the other chamber. The other Republican candidates in the race to have filed with the Federal Elections Commission Joshua Wheeler, Robert Short, Bryan Miller and Patrick Dotson dont appear to pose any significant threat to Lummis, whose name recognition, experience and endorsements have her seeming the obvious successor to Enzi in a state that hasnt sent a Democrat to represent it in Washington, D.C., since 1977.
Lummis eight years in Congress taught her some lessons on how to win in Wyoming, she said.
Having a really good ground game with solid volunteers and organizations in every county is the best approach to campaigning in Wyoming, and that will continue to be the focus of our efforts, Lummis said.
In an overwhelmingly red state, Albany County is one of the few communities with strong pockets of blue voters. Half of its representation in the state Legislature is Democratic, and it has a recent history of handing candidates on the left more votes than Republican opponents in statewide races.
But Lummis said it is her goal, should she be the Republican nominee, to garner more votes than her general election competitor from the other side of the aisle, seeing it as a welcome challenge. As the states third largest community and home of Lummis college alma mater, she said shes determined to win over the countys mixed electorate. The historical significance of her candidacy in the context of Albany Countys electoral history isnt lost on her either, Lummis said.
The fact Laramie is the first place a woman ever voted under full voting rights that were never subsequently repealed is a milestone for this community, she said. So to have Laramie be the place where women first exercised their right to vote and to have the opportunity to be Wyomings first woman U.S. senator is not lost on me. Its important to me.
Rock Springs Ryan Greene, a Democrat, narrowly edged out Cheney in 2016 in Albany County, compared to Cheneys trouncing of Greene on the statewide level. While Lummis bested challengers in Albany County in 2010, 2012 and 2014, Democrat Gary Trauner in 2008 rolled over Lummis locally in the race where he had a relatively significant vote count statewide.
Nonetheless, Lummis feels her message will resonate with local voters.
The fact there are purple pockets or blue pockets in Albany County does not daunt me, she said.
As one of the co-founders of the House Freedom Caucus, Lummis is touting her congressional record of fighting off attacks from the environmental left on Wyomings mineral resources, resisting gun control measures, being anti-abortion and having the voting record least in-sync with the Obama administrations policy agenda. Her Senate to-do list, according to her website, includes building the wall on the southern border, fighting for religious freedom, confirming conservative judges and Trump appointees, stopping the socialist agenda and the Green New Deal and to put America first while ensuring our national defense is the strongest in the world.
In an age where Republican primaries have a heavy emphasis on who is the best Trump ally, Lummis established herself early on as a strong proponent of the controversial president, citing her enthusiasm for the Trump economy. Years after polling showed Wyoming support for Trump among the strongest in the nation, Lummis said it is her impression that Cowboy State voters still love what they see out of the president.
It is certainly Lummis hope that Republicans will maintain control of the Senate, win back the House and re-elect President Trump. But even if the reverse happens and Democrats take the Senate, hold the House and put their candidate in the White House, Lummis said shell be doing whatever she can to advance Wyomings interests in Washington, D.C.
I want to get involved in the Western Caucus and work with fellow westerners to advance western issues of common interest, she said. Then I want to work with senators that are committed fiscal conservatives.
Lummis chaired the House Western Caucus while serving in Congress.
Her experience in Congress has set Lummis up to fight for federal policy critical to Albany County, she said. When it comes to federal payments to Albany County as part of the Payment In Lieu of Taxes program, which attempts to compensate counties for lost tax revenue resulting from federal ownership of lands, Lummis said she understood the heavy lift it takes to make the case to congressmen and congresswomen from states that dont have as much publicly owned land.
Its a constant battle for public lands states to educate members from back east, Lummis said.
Both of the Democratic contenders currently declared for the Senate seat call Laramie home. In June, local activist and organizer Yana Ludwig announced she would seek the Democratic partys nomination, while Merav Ben-David, a University of Wyoming ecology professor, announced her candidacy in January.
Lummis said she thinks her connections to Albany County run deep and will resonate with local voters.
Let me adopt the assumption that the nominee of the Democratic Party will be from Albany County: Did they attend (the University of Wyoming)? Do they own property in Albany County? Have they spent a lifetime involved with players in this community? Maybe the answer is, Yes, but I havent seen that, Lummis said. I intend to emphasize that this county, this university, this community are as much in my bones as any community in Wyoming.
The University of Wyoming and community college campuses around the state are of particular interest to Lummis in the campaign. An increasing preponderance of socialism among college-age voters, Lummis said, is a fight she wants to take on.
Campuses in Wyoming are really the first bastion to fighting socialism, Lummis said. To protect First Amendment rights, Second Amendment rights in fact all of our rights under the Constitution the students who are constitutional adherents are really the frontline in preserving constitutional government. Since that is a really big focus of our campaign, we really want to have frequent and active involvement of students at UW and other community colleges around the state.
In 2016, self-described democratic-socialist candidate for the Democratic Partys nomination for president Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., drew thousands to a rally on UWs campus. Sanders overwhelmingly won the Albany County Democratic Caucus that year. He is now in a red-hot race for the partys nomination with former Vice President Joe Biden.
As she went to meet with voters in Laramie Wednesday evening, Lummis said shell be focused in the coming months on raising money for an expensive campaign and working hard on her ground game.
Thats one of the reasons Im here in Albany County today meeting with folks to make sure those relationships and my understanding of this community is very up to date, she said.
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