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Taylor Haynes

Republican candidate for governor Taylor Haynes calls himself a "strict constitutionalist" and wants almost all federal land in Wyoming transferred to the state.

Taylor Haynes knows that he shares much of his platform with several other candidates in this year’s GOP primary for governor of Wyoming: push back against alleged unconstitutional behavior by the federal government, including its management of public lands and environmental regulations.

But, Haynes said, he was the original proponent of these ideas.

“I made that a safe platform in Wyoming,” said Haynes, who also ran for governor in 2010 and 2014.

Fellow perennial candidate for higher office Rex Rammell, a Rock Springs veterinarian, shares a very similar platform as Haynes. Both want to see the transfer of nearly all federal land in Wyoming to state control.

A third candidate, Cheyenne attorney Harriet Hageman, has focused on what she calls inappropriate and sometimes illegal federal overreach in Wyoming. But Hageman, a water law attorney who has previously worked on behalf of the State of Wyoming, has not called for the wholesale transfer of federal land or taken the more radical positions promoted by Haynes and Rammell on other issues.

Haynes announced his candidacy last month in Riverton, and in an interview with the Star-Tribune he outlined a “strict constitutional platform” that would solve Wyoming’s $850 million budget deficit by asserting control over federal land in the state and receiving the benefit of 100 percent of royalties from mining on that land. Royalties are currently split between the state and federal government.

Haynes claimed that the federal government is aware that they do not own any public lands in Wyoming and will readily turn them over if the state insists.

“You just enforce it,” he said. “The state has jurisdiction.”

Rammell has said that if necessary, as governor he would order state police to arrest any federal employees who remain on public land in the state after demanding its transfer. But Haynes would not entertain the possibility that the federal government would decline Wyoming’s request to turn over that land and said he was not interested in “confrontation.”

Haynes also suggested that the judicial system in the United States, including the U.S. Supreme Court, does not have the authority to determine which laws are constitutional. They do.

A retired urologist who now operates a ranch near Laramie and runs a healthcare insurance processing company, Haynes said that improving the state’s education system and economy are also top priorities.

“We have a pretty good tax structure and a nice place to live, so why aren’t we overrun with companies wanting to come here?” Haynes said.

Haynes said he wanted information technology taught to every public school student in the state in order to create a workforce that can serve the technology industry. He also wants high school students to be able to select a college or vocational track.

As for the short-term budget crunch facing the Legislature this year, Haynes said he would support the temporary use of reserve funds to cover education costs and government operations before Wyoming sees the increase in revenue that he said will result from taking control of the land.

Hageman, Haynes and Rammell join Sheridan businessman and political novice Bill Dahlin in the Republican primary for governor. Former state representative Mary Throne is the only Democrat currently in the race. Other possible contenders on the Republican side include State Treasurer Mark Gordon and House Speaker Steve Harshman, R-Casper.

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Secretary of State Ed Murray announced last month that he would not run for governor after two women accused him of sexual misconduct. Murray denied one of the allegations and said he did not recall the other incident, both of which the women claim occurred during the 1980s.

Haynes’ 2010 campaign was as a write-in candidate, and he garnered just under 14,000 votes. But in 2014, when he ran against incumbent Gov. Matt Mead and Superintendent of Public Instruction Cindy Hill, Haynes came second in the Republican field with over 30 percent of the vote.

He made waves during that race with the suggestion that he would open Yellowstone National Park to drilling. But in his interview with the Star-Tribune, Haynes said the federal government could retain management of parks and monuments.

Since then, he said he has been working with the Legislature on the issue of public lands, working to craft legislation that would help enable the process.

Tangibly speaking, Haynes said that if he is elected and able to put his platform in place, state residents will see easier access to their public lands and that those lands will never be sold or transferred from the state.

“You’d see your property taxes freeze and eventually you’d see them go down and you’d also see more access to the forest and the lands,” Haynes said. “Those are things you’d see in your day to day life without really knowing or caring who the governor is.”

Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated the city in which Haynes announced his candidacy.

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