By Tom Coulter
Wyoming Tribune Eagle
Via- Wyoming News Exchange
CHEYENNE – In a history-making moment for the Equality State, former Republican Congresswoman Cynthia Lummis was declared the winner of the race to become the state’s next U.S. senator, making her the first woman from Wyoming to be elected to the Senate.
Meanwhile, the state’s current Republican congresswoman, Liz Cheney, was reelected by a wide margin to serve a third term as the state’s only delegate in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Lummis, who was the state’s sole delegate in the U.S. House of Representatives from 2009 to 2017, was declared the winner of the race shortly after polls closed statewide at 7 Tuesday night. She defeated Democratic challenger Merav Ben-David by a wide margin.
A native of Cheyenne, Lummis watched results come in with close friends and family at a local restaurant. In a statement sent following her victory, she thanked the many volunteers and party officials who helped make her campaign possible.
“I’m continually amazed by the vision, work ethic and sheer determination of our people and businesses,” Lummis said. “From energy and agriculture to technology and tourism, the future of traditional industries and cutting-edge, new businesses can and should happen right here in Wyoming. The key to our future as a state is investing in our people, and keeping the long arm of Washington at bay.” Lummis, who has been a vocal supporter of President Donald Trump, also made a call for unity amid “a challenging time for our state and our nation.” “The COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact families and businesses. And the national media continues to fuel political divisiveness,” Lummis said. “However, it is my sincere hope that we wake up tomorrow not as a blue nation or a red nation, but a unified nation ready to renew the American spirit and sense of purpose.”
Her victory came over Ben-David, a University of Wyoming ecology professor making her first foray into the political arena. In an interview following her defeat Tuesday night, Ben-David said she was “extraordinarily proud” of her team’s outreach efforts.
“Until we get all the absentee ballots, we won’t know the final numbers, but I’m really encouraged by what’s been reported,” Ben-David said.
Ben-David, who made climate change a fixture of her campaign, said she hoped to continue her political work in Wyoming.
“I’ve talked to many people from different sectors of our economy — no one thinks climate change is not a real threat to Wyoming,” Ben-David said. “The main concerns I heard on the campaign trail were, ‘If it’s not fossil fuels, what are we going to do?’” Lummis replaces the retiring U.S. Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., who has represented Wyoming in the U.S. Senate since 1997.
In a statement sent Tuesday night, Enzi congratulated Lummis, who he said will make “a powerful trio” representing Wyoming alongside Cheney and fellow U.S. Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo.
While Wyoming elected its first woman to the U.S. Senate on Tuesday, the state also continued its 25-year streak of having a woman as its sole delegate in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Cheney, who was first elected to the seat in 2016, was declared the winner over Lynnette Grey Bull, a political newcomer and member of the Wind River Indian Reservation, immediately after polls closed.
With the victory, Cheney will now serve her third consecutive two-year term as Wyoming’s representative in Congress. In a statement sent by email after her win, Cheney said she was “honored that the people of Wyoming have entrusted me to continue to fight for our shared values as their lone voice in the House of Representatives.
“I want to thank each of my opponents for running respectful and thoughtful campaigns based on issues and policies,” Cheney said. “I also want to congratulate Senator-elect Cynthia Lummis on her victory tonight, and I look forward to partnering with her and Sen. Barrasso in Washington to fiercely advocate for the issues that are important to Wyoming.”
Grey Bull, who has focused on native and family- related issues during her campaign, said she “knew what I was up against” in the well-financed Cheney campaign, but she was proud to bring issues that matter to Wyoming to the surface.
“Even though this is a loss, it’s still a win for me, because I was able to demonstrate integrity and inspire people to go for it, even when the odds are stacked against you,” Grey Bull said. “Overall, I feel good about it.”
When interviewed Tuesday night, Grey Bull had just gotten off the phone with Cheney, who promised to work with her on indigenous issues moving forward. “I can guarantee Wyomingites that I’m not finished trying to create change,” Grey Bull added.
Cheney’s victory was cheered by Gov. Mark Gordon, who said in a statement that he has been able to see firsthand “her commitment to our state, her people, and this great nation.”
“It is a testament to her ability and a benefit to our state that she occupies such a well-deserved position in the U.S. House GOP leadership,” Gordon said in reference to Cheney’s third-ranking position among House Republicans.
He continued to congratulate Lummis on becoming the Equality State’s first female U.S. senator.
“Cynthia’s tenure in Congress, her extensive experience as a legislator and state treasurer, her love of our state, and her support for Wyoming’s energy, agriculture and mineral industries will serve Wyoming well moving forward,” Gordon said.
Barrasso, who has served alongside Enzi since 2007, also congratulated both Lummis and Cheney on their wins in a statement sent Tuesday night.
“Together, we will focus on jobs, the economy and the responsible development of our natural resources,” Barrasso said. “The three of us will be an effective, reliable and conservative team representing the people of Wyoming.”
Final unofficial vote numbers from around Wyoming for these two races were not available at press time.