RAWLINS — “Government’s first duty is to protect the people, not run their lives” — Ronald Reagan.
No simpler words reflect the character and political beliefs of Liz Cheney.
After a failed campaign in 2014 running against U.S. Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), Cheney has decided to throw her hat into the political ring once again as one of 11 candidates vying for U.S. Rep. Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.) seat in November.
As a “proud” constitutional conservative, Cheney, 49, a Casper-born mother of five, knows better than most that continuity in government is essential when facing challenging political times.
“I think Ms. Lummis seat absolutely has to stay in Republican hands, but I don’t think it’s enough for us to just send a Republican to Washington. I think that, given the next challenges our next Representative is going to face, and given the need to fight the draconian regulations put in place by a number of agencies such as the EPA, it’s going to require a lot of heavy lifting,” Cheney said.
“We need to have someone in Washington who is the strongest, most conservative voice possible,” she said. “I think we are at a real turning point for our state and we’ve watched our freedoms whittled away and we have to stop that. It’s going to take more than just sending a Republican, we have to send the strongest voice possible.”
When Cheney was about 12 years old, her father, former Vice President Dick Cheney, started down the path of more than 30 years of political service, bringing his family along on the ride.
“My first experiences with politics and how our democratic process works was learned as our family traveled around the state in the those early elections. I was raised on what makes Wyoming such a special place, the values that the people who founded the state brought and their dedication and love for freedom, and a reverence for the constitution,” Cheney said.
“It was my early experiences that really led me to make the decision to get into the race this time around,” she said. “I believe it’s our fundamental freedoms that we hold so dear here in Wyoming that are under assault by the federal government. I don’t think there is any state that has been hurt more from eight years of Barack Obama’s policies.”
Liz Cheney sat down with the Rawlins Daily Times Thursday to talk politics, family and the future of the country.
Q: When you were in high school what did you want to be when you grew up?
A: I’ve always been interested in how our government works and in public policy, but I did want to be a teacher for a while. I didn’t know what I would do, but I certainly grew up with the sense of the importance of serving, and not taking for granted the blessing we have, and doing what is necessary to make sure we are constantly defending them.
Q: People will make comparisons between you and your father. What are the similarities?
A: I feel I’ve learned tremendous lessons from both my parents. If I think about my dad, first I learned what it means to earn every vote and the importance to talk to people around the state about their concerns. Later, I learned what it means to have the courage of your convictions.
As I’ve watched my dad, in particular in the period leading up to and after 9/11, standing up for what he knows is right for the nation — no matter what criticisms have come or what people have said — it’s an impressive lesson that I try to teach our kids — that you have to stand up for what you know is right and not let those who disagree with you or who would try to shout you down succeed in doing that.
Q: With continued regulations on coal-fired power plants and following the latest decision by the Department of Energy to place a three-year moratorium on new coal leases, what do these actions mean to Wyoming and to the country?
A: I think there’s no question that the Obama administration wants to leave all coal in the ground. They have attempted to set the goal post so high that the emission standards are unreachable. Luckily, the U.S. Supreme Court stayed two days ago the implementation of the EPA’s Clean Power Plan.
This is very significant. It’s a real recognition that there is firm legal footing for the legal challenges that are going forward now. I believe there are 27 or 28 states that have brought suit against the plan, and it will probably have the effect of halting implantation of the Clean Power Plan until this president is out of office.
We in Wyoming have got to be able to lead the effort to end the war not only on coal, but all fossil fuel. If you look at coal in particular, we have something like 38 million Americans who depend on coal for their electricity, and I think a good chunk of those people probably don’t even know that. But, it’s the same for fossil fuels across the board. We saw Hillary Clinton say she wants a moratorium placed on the development of all fossil fuels located on federal land.
I think this administration has done everything it can to ignore real science. They came with a very ideological approach and let the facts be damned. If they really cared about limiting emissions they’d be focused on India, they’d be focused on China.
Q: With wind power meeting five percent of the nation’s energy needs, and on track to boost that percentage to 20 by 2030, how important is it to also include renewables in the overall energy mix?
A: We really have to include all of the above. The Obama administration likes to say that’s what they are doing, but of course they are not. You can look at it from a couple different perspectives.
One, our economy, both here in Wyoming and nationally. Having reliable, affordable energy is hugely important to generating economic growth and to generate what could be an economic renaissance quite frankly.
You can also look at it from the perspective of national security. We’ve got enemies all around the world who would like nothing more than to take down our power grid. You would think an American president would be focused on doing everything possible to make energy delivery as reliable as possible and that should include using all forms of energy. But, today the reality is we could be energy independent if we were allowed to take advantage of the resources we have here.
While it’s important to talk about an all of the above approach I think right now clearly the playing field is not level. We’ve got billions of dollars going to the renewables and in many cases a boot on the neck of the fossil fuel industry. This is fundamentally wrong.