CHEYENNE — For the past two years, Chris Henrichsen has been teaching American and Wyoming politics at Casper College.

But this year, he’ll be stepping out of the classroom to focus on a new goal — running for Congress.

Henrichsen, a Democrat, is the first candidate this year to challenge incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Cynthia Lummis, who’s seeking a third term in Congress.

The Wyoming Democratic Party hasn’t been seeking to run anyone against Lummis this year, Henrichsen said, as party staffers plan to concentrate on state legislative races.

So Henrichsen said he decided to step up, even though he admits it’ll be an uphill battle.

“I think the idea of having government for everyone is a message that can resonate here in Wyoming, but I don’t think that we’ve sort of tried to win in the past,” Henrichsen said of Democrats in Wyoming. “My goal is to see if with a different face and a more proactive approach, they can have some electoral success at the same time.”

Henrichsen describes himself as a “small ‘d’ democrat” and a “liberal egalitarian” who wants to help blue-collar and middle-class people in Wyoming.

He also said he has a strong focus on state and local control. Henrichsen said while he supports much of the new federal health care law, he doesn’t support the part of the law requiring most Americans to purchase health insurance.

He also said he’d look to scale back federal education laws such as No Child Left Behind.

“I’m not opposed to those things across the board,” he said. “I just think they’ve gotten a little out of control in terms of the micromanaging aspect.”

This is the 35-year-old’s first run for political office. Born in Washington, D.C., he moved West to attend the University of Utah.

After teaching at Brigham Young University, Brigham Young University-Idaho and Utah Valley University, Henrichsen moved to Casper in 2010 to teach political science at Casper College.

A Mormon, Henrichsen said he enjoys studying the relationship between politics and religion.

“I might be a Democrat, but I am also somebody who is very interested in scriptures and looking at things from a religious perspective and engaging people and talking about faith,” he said. “Religion and politics — you know those barber shop issues that you’re not supposed to talk about? Those are the things I’m most comfortable talking about.”

In a statement Tuesday, Lummis said she “look[s] forward to discussing the issues important to Wyoming and America with all the candidates who choose to voice their visions and policies for Wyoming in our great political process.”

Contact capital bureau reporter Jeremy Pelzer at 307-632-1244 or jeremy.pelzer@trib.com

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