STAR VALLEY — Campaigns typically require mass gatherings and a great deal of close social interaction. Not anymore.
Cynthia Lummis is now reaching out electronically from her Star Valley home in her race for Wyoming’s open seat in the United States Senate. The Republican candidate had a full schedule of events for the coming weeks that had to be canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, including an engagement to speak at the Sweetwater County Leadership Institute on March 17. Those plans included a stop at the Rocket Miner office afterward. When the institute was canceled, a telephone interview was arranged.
Lummis told the Rocket Miner that she is practicing social distancing at her home in Star Valley while staying connected via phone and internet. Her final in-person event was precinct caucuses in lower Star Valley (Etna) on March 16. Those in attendance sat far apart, and some participated by computer with online caucus materials, according to her campaign Facebook page.
The Lummis campaign continues, mostly by phone. That’s not all her phone is being used for, though.
Lummis said that she’s been connecting with her county campaign committees who are talking to people throughout Wyoming about ways that residents can help one another as a small community spread throughout the state. One idea that Lummis is touting to help local economies is the purchase of gift certificates from local restaurants, “watering holes,” and small businesses to inject cash into businesses at a cash-strapped time.
“To make sure your favorite business is still there after the coronavirus pandemic lifts, buy a gift certificate now,” she said.
The Lummis campaign is also trying to connect with various people who are struggling and inform them about government resources available. She said during her previous eight years in Congress, she developed a decent list to help people and businesses that are reaching out to be able to steer them to the right government agency or a current member of Wyoming’s congressional delegation. Concerns can range from Bureau of Land Management lease issues to small businesses affected by the pandemic.
APART YET TOGETHER
During Thursday’s phone interview, Lummis said that she was all by herself in Star Valley, looking at the beautiful snowy scenery.
“It is a fabulous place to be holed up,” she said.
Lummis purchased a home in Star Valley about 12 years ago and a farm there about six years ago. She said the area provides a perfect place to self isolate. She goes cross-country skiing nearby for exercise.
Lummis doesn’t have a television in her Star Valley home, but stays updated on all the news and anecdotal information with her computer, including reading the Wall Street Journal. She also calls friends around Wyoming and the United States. For example, she said that she might call a person she knows in Wheatland and ask, “How are you, and what’s going on there?”
Even though Lummis hadn’t seen another person in three to four days, she still felt connected and said she was staying abreast of the rapidly changing coronavirus situation. She wasn’t missing television, and was enjoying her hiatus from TV news, especially the “think/shout news shows that point fingers instead of talking about how people can pull together.”
One concern that the coronavirus pandemic has raised, and Lummis plans to help address if she is elected to the Senate, is the United States’ reliance on China for prescription drugs. Lummis said nearly all of the active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs), the basic components for prescription drugs consumed by Americans, come from China, as well as a large percentage of the drugs themselves.
“We simply have to restore U.S. and North American manufacturing of prescription drugs,” Lummis said. “The virus is revealing the soft underbelly of our complacency toward China and how dependent we’ve become on China. We’ve finally opened our eyes, and it has to stop.”
Lummis also asserted that the outsourcing of prescription medicine is a component of national security that we have ignored. She said the U.S. government and Congress are in a position help begin restoring the manufacture of pharmaceuticals in the United States. This includes buying power in the Medicare and Medicaid components of the economy. She said once coronavirus aid packages are passed, Congress needs to address this issue.
RETURN TO THE RACE
When Lummis decided to run for the Senate seat being vacated by Mike Enzi, COVID-19 was not a concern.
One of the factors driving Lummis’s decision to run for Congress again as well as her enthusiasm for the campaign was her concern about the national debt. While still in Washington D.C., Lummis was a member of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget (CRFB), an independent, nonprofit, bipartisan public policy organization that addresses the federal budget and other fiscal issues. She said that briefing materials she had been receiving from them alarmed her.
“We’re in denial that the debt is a problem,” she said.
Another reason that she decided to run again is that she wants to support President Donald Trump’s agenda. She pointed to economic vitality under his administration before the novel coronavirus hit, including more jobs available for all groups of people, including women and minorities.
The Lummis for Wyoming campaign website lists six other items on the Wyoming Republicans to-do list if she is elected to the senate, including:
— Build the wall on our southern border and defund sanctuary cities
— Uphold the Constitution and defend the Second Amendment
— Fight for religious freedom and the rights of the unborn
— Confirm conservative judges and President Trump’s appointees
— Stop the socialist agenda and the “Green New Deal”
— Put America First while ensuring our national defense is the strongest in the world