Cynthia M. Lummis

Former U.S. Rep. Cynthia Lummis, shown, a Republican, announced Thursday that she will seek to replace outgoing U.S. Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., who is set to retire in 2020.

After a two-year sabbatical from politics, former U.S. Rep. Cynthia Lummis announced Thursday that she will run for U.S. Senate, pledging to protect Wyoming’s “way of life” against “liberal ideologues in D.C.”

Lummis served from 2009 to 2017 as Wyoming’s sole U.S. representative and will now seek Sen. Mike Enzi’s seat as he prepares to retire in 2020.

In a conference call, she told reporters she was lured back by the prospect of working with a Republican administration to reverse the “erosion of our rights” and “deliver real results for the people of Wyoming.”

“It’s just appalling what’s happening,” she said. “Stopping the socialist agenda and the Green New Deal is heavily on my mind. I want to stand shoulder to shoulder with President Trump, and we want to make sure conservative voices are heard loud and clear.”

Though a Republican, Lummis leans libertarian and supports limited government spending and regulation, particularly with regard to the energy sector. One of the linchpins of her platform so far is the revitalization of the state’s minerals industry.

The message is likely to appeal to coal communities wrestling with the decline of a product that they — and the state at large — are highly dependent on. Citing the recent layoffs of more than 600 people at the Eagle Butte and Belle Ayr coal mines in Campbell County, Lummis blamed Obama-era policies for the struggles of the state’s minerals sector.

“The environmental radicals that worked with the Obama administration to put coal-fired power plants on death row, they want to go to oil next,” she said. “It is going to be incumbent on the Wyoming delegation … to make sure that never happens.”

She said she would work with the Trump administration and the Department of Energy to open new coal markets overseas, upgrade coal plants to extend their useful lives, and carry out research on clean coal, including carbon sequestration.

As for health care, Lummis said “the biggest benefit to Wyoming” would be the ability to sell and buy insurance policies across state lines, skirting the high costs associated with a small pool of participants.

Positioning herself as a firm backer of President Trump, Lummis said she supports his efforts to deliver immigration reform — including a wall on the Mexico border — and to defend religious liberties and the Second Amendment.

She also set herself up as an ally to Sen. John Barrasso, even referring to the possibility of them together in office as a “dream team” scenario, with U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney completing the trio.

With both Barrasso and Cheney holding party leadership positions, Lummis argued that having one congressman (she does not identify as a “congresswoman”) outside the leadership is helpful for when they are “behaving in a manner that is not in the best interest of Wyoming.”

But with Lummis officially in the running, the next question is whether Cheney will oppose her. As the third-highest ranking Republican in the House, Cheney could try to gain more power in that chamber or switch to the Senate. If either won, it would be the first time a woman has held the position.

The two have similarities, but Lummis’ libertarian bent sets her in opposition to Cheney on some issues. For example, her noninterventionist approach to international affairs is in stark contrast to Cheney’s reputation as a foreign policy hawk.

Lummis is the second candidate to launch a campaign for the 2020 Senate race after Laramie Democrat Yana Ludwig announced her bid last month.

Megadonor Foster Friess, who ran unsuccessfully for Wyoming governor in 2018, has also said he is weighing a Senate run.

Before serving in U.S. Congress, Lummis was Wyoming’s treasurer for eight years and spent another 14 in the Wyoming House and Senate. Since leaving office in 2017, Lummis said she has worked with her brother and sister on their family ranch and businesses. She also spent time with her only grandchild in his first year of life, and with her father in his last. He died in May.

Now, with family matters squared away, she said she is ready and eager to return to Capitol Hill.

“It just creates a good timing for me to enter this race and recommit to being the fighter for Wyoming that I was when I was in Congress,” she said. “The enthusiasm for public service is definitely back.”

Contact Cody Cottier at town@jhnewsandguide.com.

Cody Cottier covers town and state government. He grew up with a view of the Olympic Mountains, and after graduating Washington State University he traded it for a view of the Tetons. Odds are the mountains are where you’ll find him when not on deadline.

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