Cheyenne attorney Harriet Hageman officially declared her candidacy in the Republican primary for governor last week with a tour around Wyoming. I attended her Casper College stop where Hageman, an alum, spoke to a capacity crowd, and a surprisingly youthful one for a political event.
Spotted at the event, though not necessarily supporting Hageman’s candidacy, included several Republican lawmakers from Casper — Sen. Drew Perkins and Reps. Bunky Loucks and Chuck Gray — as well as former county GOP chair Bonnie Foster.
Hageman made her pitch with a roughly 20-minute speech that ran the gamut from her core platform of rolling back so-called federal overreach to improving education in the state and increasing transparency.
Her most frequent refrain was that she would be a governor unlike any other in her willingness to buck the feds, rejecting mandates and regulations she believes are illegal and harmful to Wyoming’s interests.
“I aspire to be the one governor who can make a difference,” Hageman said. “The one governor who is running for the right reason: to lead the critical effort to take power out of Washington, D.C. and bring it back to the people of Wyoming.”
Hageman was light on specific policies, as candidates tend to be in stump speeches, and she dodged a question on whether she would have vetoed a bill passed by the Legislature last year to allow people to carry guns in government meetings, as Gov. Matt Mead did. She also said she did not know enough to take a stance of medical marijuana, but would look into the issue.
Hageman outlined an economic platform based on support for what she called the three “legacy industries” in Wyoming: minerals, agriculture and tourism.
While Hageman has previously objected to my characterizing her as a candidate aligned with the libertarian wing of the GOP, believing it too closely associated her with the Libertarian Party itself, I continue to believe the term accurately describes her position in the race including her primary reference to social services during the announcement as Casper College on Thursday.
“I believe that we have an obligation to help those that are less fortunate than we are and that we should not expect the government to fill that role,” she said.
Speaking of her position in the race, Hageman largely has the Republican field to herself for the moment. Leading potential contenders Ed Murray and Mark Gordon have yet to announce their intentions, with Murray’s prospects likely damaged by an allegation made late last year that he sexually assaulted a woman in the 1980s. Murray has vigorously denied the claim.
(Sheridan businessman and another political novice Bill Dahlin is also running for the GOP nomination, but has kept a relatively low profile.)
The lead time for Hageman’s campaign will no doubt help her, as the first-time candidate has less name recognition than Gordon, Murray or other possible contenders such as House Speaker Steve Harshman, a Casper Republican.
For anyone who wants to watch her speech in full, I broadcasted it live from the event and the video is available on my Twitter page at twitter.com/arnorosenfeld (you’ll have to scroll down some).
Barrasso bullish on North Korea
I’ve now read twice about Wyoming’s U.S. Sen. John Barrasso telling an ostensibly charming story about his father-in-law, a 92-year-old World War II and Korean War veteran.
“He said, ‘John you tell President Trump if he needs me I’m ready to go back to Korea and finish the job,’” Barrasso said, last weekend, according to the Cody Enterprises.
What’s the moral of the story?
“That’s the Wyoming spirit,” Barrasso said.
Of course, it’s unlikely any war on the Korean Peninsula would be won by American infantry soldiers. Instead, it would likely involve a lot of bombings. America bombing North Korea, North Korea bombing South Korea and... maybe Guam? Maybe Japan? A full-fledged war would almost certainly mean millions of civilian casualties and the possible use of nuclear weapons.
Whether or not a willingness to “finish the job” in Korea represents something about Wyomingites, it is an interesting reminder that despite not appearing particularly interested in foreign policy, Barrasso has been consistently bellicose on North Korea.
“Our nation will act to shut down North Korea’s nuclear program,” Barrasso said in a statement last August.
Speaking of bellicose
Liz Cheney, Wyoming’s lone representative in the U.S. House, is leading the effort to toughen America’s nuclear deal with Iran. President Donald Trump has put off making a final decision on whether to maintain the deal, initiated by Barack Obama, and the clock is now ticking down after the president recently waived the reimposition of sanctions on the country.
His next chance to do so — or not — will be in four months, and many suspect he’ll kill the deal at that point.
Cheney teamed up with Rep. Peter Roskam, R-Ill., to introduce the Iran Freedom Policy and Sanctions Act.
Axio’s Jonathan Swan got his hands on an early copy of the bill and explained its significance to readers.
“This is Congress’ last chance to stop Trump from blowing up the Iran deal,” Swan wrote. “Democrats and Republican moderates — especially in the Senate — are going to hate this Roskam bill.”
(I’m sure Cheney would like Swan to refer to it as the “Cheney bill,” but such are the indignities of being a freshman lawmaker.)
The measure would clamp down on Iranian ballistic missile testing and allow for “anytime, anywhere” inspections of Iranian facilities as well as expanding sanctions on some elements of the Iranian government for things unrelated to its nuclear program.
“The Roskam legislation is the gold standard for how to fix the Iran deal when it comes to ballistic missiles,” Richard Goldberg of the hardline Foundation for Defense of Democracies told Axios.