SHERIDAN — Cynthia Lummis discussed her upcoming campaign for U.S. Senate during a stop in Sheridan Thursday.
Lummis — who previously served in the state Legislature, as the state treasurer and as Wyoming’s U.S. House Representative —is running as a Republican for the Senate seat currently held by Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyoming in the 2020 election. Enzi announced he would not seek re-election to the seat he’s held since 1996 earlier this year.
Lummis said she conducted an issues poll before announcing her run and concluded immigration and social security were the two most important issues to Wyoming voters.
Those results, she admitted, were surprising.
Debates over immigration policies have become fixtures of the national daily news cycle but Wyoming rarely feels direct impacts from the issue.
Lummis speculated that Wyoming voters’ concerns over immigration are rooted in “a fundamental sense of fairness.” That is, they are upset that illegal immigrants are entering the country while people attempting to enter the country legally wait in line.
If elected, Lummis said she would work in support of President Donald Trump’s immigration policies, most notably the proposed construction of a border wall. Building the wall, she said, would help curb illegal immigration but should be accompanied by policies that make legal immigration easier.
On Social Security, Lummis said Congress will need to act fast to salvage the program, at least for older citizens.
“Social security can be fixed, but the longer we wait, the harder it is,” Lummis said. “If we don’t, in about 15 years, social security payments will drop by a full one-third the first year and go down from there.”
She added that she expects younger generations, who are unlikely to receive Social Security payments, are ready to abandon the program.
“For people the age of a lot of us in this room, that’s not the case,” Lummis said. “We’ve paid in our entire working lives and we’ve depended on it.”
Lummis attributed the decline of coal production in Wyoming to Obama-era energy policies and, in the case of the recent mine closures in Campbell County, mismanagement. Still, she said the outlook for traditional uses of coal is bleak.
“We’re going to settle into a new normal of lower output of coal,” Lummis said.
To push back against that trend, Lummis said she supports the state aggressively pursuing research into low-carbon coal technologies, like carbon capture and sequestration. She specifically highlighted research being done at the Integrated Test Center in Gillette.
If those technologies are going to serve as a long-term solution, though, Lummis said the state will have to prove they can reliably reduce carbon emissions, an increasingly prevalent goal both domestically and abroad.
Lummis said she believes Wyoming’s congressional delegation help those efforts by helping the state achieve grants from the U.S. Department of Energy.
Lummis is an early entrant into the 2020 race for Wyoming’s Senate seat. Candidates have until May 29, 2020 to file for the race.