Former Wyoming Congresswoman Cynthia Lummis has officially filed to run for the retiring Mike Enzi’s seat in the U.S. Senate, according to a filing with the Federal Elections Committee submitted earlier this week.
While the news put the Washington press corps in a bit of an uproar Thursday afternoon after reports in outlets like Politico and The Hill, the news does not necessarily mean she’s running.
While technically true — Lummis changed her campaign committee’s affiliation from “House” to “Senate” in a filing with the Federal Elections Commission late Tuesday afternoon — it by no means is a statement on whether she’s running, said the campaign committee’s treasurer Bill Cubin.
“Cynthia is thinking about it seriously, and we have to file that in order to be in compliance with FEC regulations,” Cubin told the Star-Tribune earlier this week. “This is no announcement.”
“This is not news,” he added. “This feels like news, but it’s not.”
Several sources told the Star-Tribune last month that Lummis, who served in Congress from 2009 to 2017, was weighing a run. Republican megadonor Foster Friess has said he’s also considering a bid for Enzi’s seat. U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney’s name has also been floated, but she has so far remained quiet on her plans for 2020.
So why file?
Lummis, despite retiring from the House of Representatives in 2016, has maintained an active political action committee since leaving Congress, using her remaining campaign cash to donate to other candidate committees and political groups, as well as assorted nonprofit organizations.
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However, when a committee spends or raises $5,000 in an election cycle, candidates have to update their filings. In this case, Cubin explained, operations from her campaign committee in the first quarter exceeded that $5,000 threshold, requiring her to submit a statement of organization with the FEC.
Lummis always could have converted the campaign committee into another type of political action committee or otherwise shut it down, Cubin said. But — with Lummis seriously weighing a Senate bid and with numerous administrative headaches facing her if she did — that was never seriously considered as an option.
“If we were to wind it down or turn it into a multi-candidate committee, we could,” Cubin said. “But there were a thousand reasons why we didn’t want to. So that’s why we did that.”
Is she running, though?
So far, Lummis’ recorded spending in the first quarter was actually quite low, with most of the money going to compliance software, a web domain name registration and a ticket to a fundraiser.
On the question of a potential bid for the Senate, Cubin said Lummis has spent money on “considering it,” however he would not disclose what the committee’s spending has looked like so far in the second quarter.
“There were some expenses,” Cubin said. “I’m not going to talk too much about that, especially when there’s nothing to talk about right now.”