This past week has been an interesting time for Wyoming politicians Liz Cheney, Cynthia Lummis, and Foster Friess.
For months, former U.S. Rep. Lummis was the only well-known Republican candidate announced as running for U.S. Senate in 2020. Her successor, the current U.S. Rep. Cheney, was expected by many to move up for a Senate run, too.
Political pundits were salivating at the thought of a Lummis-Cheney race for current U.S. Sen. Mike Enzi’s senate seat. It would have been a doozy. Literally, thousands of Republicans in Wyoming were debating which one of these two popular Republican women they would vote for in such a primary?
Then last Thursday, Jan. 16, Cheney announced she was staying in the House.
And then last Friday, former gubernatorial candidate Foster Friess reiterated that he is interested in the Senate seat and plans a “listening tour” of Wyoming. He has some things to say and wants to hear what are the key issues from Wyoming voters.
Could this mean in a 24-hour period, Lummis went from being a clear front-runner to possibly facing a hotly contested race against Friess? And who knows who else might be thinking of jumping into the race?
Friess is not to be taken lightly. He is one of the best-connected Republican nonpolitical office holders in the state. He is a friend of President Donald Trump and was the only gubernatorial candidate endorsed by Trump in the 2018 Wyoming Republican primary.
Meanwhile, Lummis, who once was expected to run for governor in 2018, sat out that race and decided to wait Enzi’s decision on retirement. Since Enzi’s announced retirement, she has been working hard. Her appearance at the Wyoming Business Alliance in Cheyenne in November was impressive. She hit a home run with her participation in a program on civility.
Lummis and Friess know each other well. In a big state with a small population, everybody knows everyone. Their conservative Wyoming politics mesh well. Both preach civility, which is a welcome trend.
Friess has a personal set of issues that he and his wife Lynn have supported financially and promoted publicly. These include transparency in government, posted prices for medical procedures, supporting the Rachel’s Challenge program to prevent school bullying, and teaching civics in schools. He also is a big proponent of school choice.
The Senate Conservative Fund has recently endorsed Lummis, which is a national group of heavy hitter Republicans. On Facebook, her page is filled every day with endorsements by statewide Republican leaders.
“I am a dyed-in-the-wool Wyoming conservative and I share the policy goals and unapologetic, liberty-minded orientation of many Senate Conservative Fund candidates like Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, Marsha Blackburn, and Tom Cotton,” she writes on her Facebook page.
Meanwhile, these twists and turns have caught this writer by surprise. I was positive that Liz Cheney would run for the Senate.
Then when she chose to stay in the House, Friess reaffirmed his interest in the senate seat.
Meanwhile Lummis will keep on doing what she has been doing, which is traveling the state, listening to folks and rounding up endorsements.
Former Gov. Matt Mead sure sounded like he was not interested in that Senate seat, but will Cheney’s departure from the race change anything? Another Jackson Republican heavyweight, Bob Grady, was very serious about a House run if Liz moved up.
There are only 100 U.S. Senate seats in the country and they do not come up very often. Wyoming’s two seats are the most powerful in the country complains The New York Times because they are equally as powerful as two seats from California. However, ours each represent 290,000 people while a senate seat in California represents 20 million people! By this math, it takes 68 people in California to have the clout in the Senate as one person in Wyoming. Feels about right to me. But I digress.
Liz Cheney now has the chance to settle in at the U.S. House and some day move up to speaker. She already has set records at the speed at which she has gained influence, becoming the third-ranking member in just her second term. This is unprecedented. I think it is wonderful that she is staying put.
So, Wyoming voters, sit back and enjoy the ride in 2020. Political races are fun for just about everybody, but it can be hard on the participants. So let’s give a shout-out to all those folks stirring the pot including Lummis, Cheney, Friess, and anyone else who wants to jump into the fray.