The idea of reentering public service in the era of a conservative Republican president has proven tantalizing to former congresswoman Cynthia Lummis.
During a teleconference with media on Thursday, Lummis says she spent the last two years on her family ranch and enjoyed quality time with grandchild and her father, who passed away in May.
After those “great family opportunities” began to subside, Lummis said the energy and desire for public life began to return.
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“As I’ve been back here in Wyoming ever since I left congress, I’ve been working here with Wyoming people and families and business…and we’ve watched the erosion of some of our traditional, independent rights,” said Lummis, who announced early Thursday morning she would seek the U.S. Senate seat Sen. Mike Enzi will leave next year.
Lummis has repeatedly defended Wyoming’s fossil industries and blasted “radical environmentalists.” Lummis told reporters she would look to new businesses and industries to consume Wyoming’s energy.
“It includes things like cloud storage of data, thinks like mining bitcoin. These are all energy dependent businesses that are clean technologies and would help move Wyoming into that sector, the technology sector, and marrying us to the components of the technology industry that are energy users,” she said.
When asked about Wyoming coal’s decline during the Trump administration, Lummis blamed policies put in place during the Obama administration.
“The Obama administration enacted environmental regulations that were so onerous, they encouraged utilities to move away from coal,” she said. “It’s hard to switch gears because there’s a new president.”
She suggests working with the Trump administration to extend the life of coal plants and looking for new overseas. Lummis also mentioned trona and uranium mining in Wyoming that could be better exploited.
Lummis also threw her support to Wyoming’s new renewable energy sector, touting Wyoming’s cooler weather as a factor in favorable conditions for solar panel lifespans.
On healthcare, she is a critic of “Obamacare” and says opening up the ability to buy and sell insurance across state lines would help bring down costs.
Lummis gives strong support to President Trump’s desire to build a border wall and promises to “be tough” on immigration.
Lummis uses Wyoming’s sheep industry as an example, which relies on special visas to import a small amount of immigrants for sheep herding.
“If the sheep industry can do it, any industry can do it,” said Lummis.
“I think we should build a wall because I’m a rancher, I see fences working all the time,” she continued.
“Fences make good neighbors and the reason they do is that I keep my cattle in, they keep their cattle in their place, and you don’t have as much problems with trespassing, abuse of your property, and you have gates when you want to welcome your neighbor in.”
Congresswoman Liz Cheney, who is widely expected to run for Enzi’s seat, came up more than once during the teleconference.
“We have spoken in the last week and she is going to make a decision in due course,” said Lummis. “Clearly we’re both Republicans, but I’m more of a Libertarian-leaning Republican.”
Lummis says Cheney is more an an “interventionist” when it comes to defense, and took the opportunity to support Trump’s use of trade in diplomacy.
“If she decides to run for senate too, I can tell you it’s going to be a real barnburner of a race out here in Wyoming,” said Lummis.