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Lummis likely returning to Congress after winning GOP Senate nod in Wyoming

Democrats haven’t won a Senate race in state since 1970

Former Wyoming Rep. Cynthia M. Lummis easily won the Republican nomination for Senate on Tuesday night.
Former Wyoming Rep. Cynthia M. Lummis easily won the Republican nomination for Senate on Tuesday night. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Former Rep. Cynthia M. Lummis is on a path back to Washington after winning the Republican nomination for the open Senate seat in deep-red Wyoming.

Lummis, who served as the state’s lone representative in the House from 2009 to 2017, was leading a 10-way GOP primary to succeed retiring Republican Michael B. Enzi with 50 percent of the vote when The Associated Press called the race at 8:22 p.m. Mountain time. Converse County Commissioner Robert Short was in second place with 22 percent.

During a debate last month, Lummis pledged to “be a staunch supporter of President [Donald] Trump and his America First agenda.” In her campaign, she has advocated increased U.S. manufacturing and backed a proposal from Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., intended to allow more competition in health care markets.

Lummis will next meet University of Wyoming professor Merav Ben-David, who won a six-way Democratic primary Tuesday. Either would be Wyoming’s first female senator. But Lummis will be the overwhelming favorite in a state that hasn’t elected a Democrat to the Senate since 1970. Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the general election Solid Republican.

As a congresswoman, Lummis pushed for an overhaul of the Endangered Species Act and cuts to federal spending. She served on the Appropriations, Oversight and Reform, and Natural Resources committees. She also blazed a trail in the hard-line conservative House Freedom Caucus, serving as its only female member.

In launching her campaign, Lummis positioned herself as someone outside congressional leadership with an eye for Wyoming issues. She even noted she was removed from the House whip team at one point.

Lummis raked in endorsements from across the state and raised more than $1.8 million through July 29, including a $590,000 loan to her campaign, and had $412,000 in the bank. She benefited from more than $240,000 in outside spending from the Senate Conservatives Fund and $16,000 from the anti-tax Club For Growth. 

That haul gave her a big edge over the other nine Republican hopefuls. Short, her next closest challenger, raised $358,000 and was left with $68,000 at July 29. On the Democratic side, Ben-David brought in $80,000 and had $27,000 in the bank.

Republicans have held both of Wyoming’s Senate seats since 1977. Enzi won his last three reelection races with more than 70 percent of the vote. Trump carried the state by 46 points in 2016.

Meanwhile, House Republican Conference Chairwoman Liz Cheney, who briefly considered running for Enzi’s seat after he announced his retirement, easily won her primary for a third term Tuesday. She next faces Democrat Lynnette Grey Bull in November.

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