ROCK SPRINGS – Cynthia Lummis made a campaign stop in southwest Wyoming on Oct. 6. She is running for U.S. Senate after previous tenures in Wyoming leadership, including serving as the state treasurer and a U.S. House representative. She is the Republican candidate who is seeking to follow U.S Senator Mike Enzi, who is retiring at the end of his current term.
She made stops in Rock Springs and Green River as part of a 10-day “swing” around the western half of the state. The loop mirrored a similar trip she made through the eastern part of Wyoming. She noted that the coronavirus had disrupted the usual campaign calendar, and she is making up for lost time.
When people cast their ballot, Lummis says she wants people to know there is underutilized talent in the U.S. Senate and House.
“There are so many people willing to solve problems and to actually legislate again and not just criticize each other, she said.
In her time in the House of Representatives, she said she has served with just over one-quarter of the Senate, and worked closely when them.
“I want to engage with them from the moment I get there … and break this logjam,” she said.
“If I weren’t optimistic about that, I wouldn’t be running.”
DEALING WITH COVID-19
Lummis said, “Obviously it shut us down,” with the coronavirus pandemic limiting their in-person travels from mid-March to mid-June. During that phase, they campaigned entirely through Zoom and other computer meetings.
“And now we’re in full campaign mode,” she said.
Now hey are taking steps to safely connect in a socially distanced manner. Lummis called this Senate race the most different campaign she’s ever had.
“It’s my 14th campaign,” she said before adding. “And the most fun of all of them.”
She said it has allowed her to see longtime friends and being reacquainted with some of these people has been “really delightful.”
Lummis said she was pleased that President Donald Trump responded well to his treatment after contracting COVID-19, being able to re-engage with his campaign with little interruption.
“This virus is indiscriminate. It goes anywhere and can effect anyone,” she said.
When it comes to the government’s role in a pandemic, Lummis said she thinks of education and treatment – “information about how the virus spreads and how we can contain it to the best extent possible” and “research into treatments, vaccines, to alleviate and manage it.”
Financial relief is also part of the government’s responsibility, according to the candidate.
“I do agree that Congress had to pass the CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Act,” she said.
As a devout fiscal conservative, Lummis wants to tackle the federal debt, but with that said, she acknowledged that providing funding to help businesses survive the worst of the shutdown is essential. In cases where the government pushes nonessential businesses to close, she said it has an obligation to help them financially, along with the employees and communities that rely on them.
When it comes to predicting what needs to be done, she said, “There are no more Nostradamuses.” However, she said they can use hindsight to make better decisions. For example, Lummis said she thinks some places went overboard on designating certain businesses as essential, such as liquor stores remaining open when small restaurants were closed. In general, she said there was discrimination, with big businesses being favored over small businesses.
“We should have been more respectful of businesses’ ability – through social distancing and mask requirements – to allow them to operate,” she said.
Looking ahead to the nation’s recovery, Lummis said, “I think we’re going to be shocked with how quickly vaccines become available.”
Major companies are spending a lot of time planning for rapid manufacturing and deployment, according to Lummis.
To provide maximum protection for the population, once a safe and effective vaccine is developed and made available, public buy-in will be required. The more people who get vaccinated, the harder it will be for COVID-19 to spread.
Lummis recognizes the impact vaccines has on society. She shared her memories of being a little girl who waited in line for the polio vaccine in the late 1950s.
“As someone who appreciates what can be a life-saving vaccine, I want to be first in line,” she said. “And I hope Americans will embrace the opportunity to be vaccinated against COVID,”
Lummis said this will allow the country to emerge from the pandemic more quickly, strengthen and grow the economy, and return to normal life.
LESSONS FROM THE TRAIL
When asked about what she was learning through her travels, Lummis said, “The more time I spend listening to the people, the better I’m prepared to serve in the U.S. Senate.”
When it comes to the economic outlook, she said Wyoming has suffered a double economic whammy due to the energy bust and following impact of COVID-19.
She said Wyoming residents are worried about the energy industry – from coal-fired plants to natural gas. She said people want to keep coal mines open, so it will be important to learn how to sequester and capture carbon gas.
Other concerns include getting and maintaining health insurance, restructuring the Postal Service, the beef supply chain, expanding Medicare and Medicaid options, increasing transparency in hospital prices, and offering trona royalty rate relief.
“It’s been a very informative visit,” she said.
WANTING MORE FROM A DEBATE
On the heels of the presidential debate between Trump and Joe Biden, she said their performances changed no minds.
“Americans may have adjusted to people shouting over each other, but that doesn’t make it good or right,” Lummis said. “I think it’s time for role models to listen to each other and respond to each other. … I think it would be ideal if those role models were Donald Trump and Joe Biden.”
BE CONFIDENT, MAKE A CHOICE AND VOTE
“I have a lot of confidence in the integrity of Wyoming voting system,” Lummis said.
While the candidate said she couldn’t speak for the absentee voting systems of other states, she said Wyoming Secretary of State Ed Buchanan has done a very good job in validating ballots once they’re returned.
“I think Wyoming’s system is very trustworthy,” she said.
She stressed the importance of voting since there are important decisions this year.
“There’s a choice this year,” Lummis said. “A stark choice between socialism and free enterprise. Between heavy government and personal freedom. … I encourage people to vote for freedom, for a light touch. … And to support our Constitution over the rapid march to socialism that is really represented by the Democratic Party.”
“I haven’t felt as strongly about this in quite some time,” she said.