Lummis not sold yet on conservation bills
But House candidate declares she’s not ‘Barbara Cubin 2.0.’
By Noah Brenner, Jackson Hole, Wyo.
April 2, 2008
Republican U.S. House hopeful Cynthia Lummis said she needs more information before she would support protecting the Wyoming Range from further energy leasing or protecting the Snake River and its tributaries under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act.
U.S. Sen. John Barrasso has introduced a bill that would prohibit further leasing in the Wyoming Range, and Lummis said she “will go into it with a favorable bias towards protecting it.” However, she said she wants to continue talking with Sublette County and Lincoln County residents and visit the area before making a decision.
“I stood with [former U.S. Sen.] Craig Thomas at the top of New World Mine [near Yellowstone National Park] when it was proposed for gold mining and saw with my own eyes why Wyoming should oppose that,” she said. “I want to see the Wyoming Range with my own eyes because that was so influential to me with regard to the New World Mine.”
Lummis said she currently does not support Barrasso’s legislation to protect portions of the Snake River drainage under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act because she still has questions about how it could affect state and federal water rights.
“I want to assure myself that there will be no federal reserved water rights with the wild and scenic designation, and I have not received complete assurance,” she said during her first campaign stop in Jackson Hole on Thursday and Friday.
During the trip, she met with ”the usual suspects among the Republican Party,” including Wyoming national committeewoman Jan Larimer, former state Rep. and Jackson innkeeper Clarene Law, and state party Vice Chairwoman Diana Vaughan. Lummis is running against fellow Republicans Mark Gordon, Bill Winney, Dan Zwonitzer and Swede Nelson in the primary and could face Democrat Gary Trauner of Wilson in the general election.
U.S. should stay in Iraq
Lummis said she supports continued U.S. involvement in the Iraq war and believes the U.S. should not begin troop withdrawals until Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. military commander in Iraq, says it’s time.
“I am not a veteran and am not an expert in military tactics and I am not going to second-guess our commanders on the ground,” she said. “I support the surge, I support our troops and I support General Petraeus.”
Though she supports the war effort, Lummis said funding the war is becoming increasingly problematic. She said she still supports making President Bush’s tax cuts permanent, though some may need further review.
“We may have to take the time to see what General Petraeus recommends with regard to additional funding, perceived exit strategies, and compare them to the points at which certain of the Bush tax cuts become permanent or not,” she said. “I would hope we will know by  whether we can afford to do that.”
Despite record federal deficits, Lummis said, increasing taxes is not the answer to the government’s money woes.
“The lack of discipline is astounding by both parties,” she said. “If there was any evidence that you could raise taxes and they would go to reduce the debt, that would be a different story for me, but there is no evidence that if we raise taxes it will go to reduce the debt.”
On other federal lands in western Wyoming, Lummis said she is a strong supporter of “multiple use” and endorsed intense natural-gas development on the Pinedale Anticline just south of Jackson, where drilling activities have led to unsafe ground ozone levels numerous times in recent weeks.
“It is a good model except for some stresses that I will be watching – air quality and sage grouse,” she said. “The sage grouse issue is no longer on the horizon; it is in our headlights, as is the air-quality issue, and those will be issues I monitor closely.”
Leverage mineral royalties
To help maintain other federally protected lands, Lummis said, she would make it a priority to establish a federal trust fund from a portion of federal mineral royalties and then use the interest from the fund to augment budgets for the National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and protect “other national treasures.”
“We would take proceeds from a depletable resource and convert it into a renewable resource – interest,” she said. “This is a big topic of interest to me, and I think it has particular benefits for Teton County if it is accepted by Congress.”
Lummis, of Cheyenne, was born and raised in Wyoming and graduated from the University of Wyoming with degrees in biology and animal science, returning for a law degree, which she received in 1985, according to information provided by her campaign.
She was elected to the Wyoming Legislature in 1979 and served for 14 years in the House and Senate. Afterward she served two terms as state treasurer, wrapping up her second stint in 2006 at the end of the term limit. She was one of three finalists for the appointment to Thomas’ seat in the Senate and declared her candidacy for U.S. House in January.
She has come under fire from state and national Democrats for her perceived close ties to U.S. Rep. Barbara Cubin and Republican fundraisers in Washington.
Wyoming Democratic Party spokesman Bill Luckett released a statement detailing a Lummis visit to Washington and a “meet and greet” with lobbyists and members of Cubin’s staff, while officials with the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee pointed to a Beltway blog entry calling Lummis “Cubin 2.0.”
Lummis dismissed the Democrats’ statements as ridiculous, saying she was in Washington for a Republican candidate school, along with Gordon, not to take lessons from Cubin.
“They are trying to make it look like I am Barbara Cubin 2.0, and I can assure you that Cynthia Lummis is Cynthia Lummis,” she said.
“To me, this is a little bit like saying Gary Trauner is a native New Yorker, a man and a Democrat so he must be just like Eliot Spitzer,” she said. “I would never say that, but to me, that is exactly what they are saying.
“I am a conservative Wyoming woman, but that makes me about as much like Barbara Cubin as Gary Trauner is like Eliot Spitzer because they are both men, New York natives and Democrats — that is an absurd analogy.”