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U.S. Senate candidate Cynthia Lummis smiles as she participates in a Zoom call with Wyoming Republican county chairs during a small Election Day watch party Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020, at the Lummis campaign headquarters in downtown Cheyenne. Lummis faced nine other Republican challengers to replace Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., who is retiring. She will face off against Democrat Merav Ben-David in the general election. Michael Cummo/Wyoming Tribune Eagle

CHEYENNE – While a few years remain until the next U.S. presidential election, U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyo., said Thursday she thinks the next Republican nominee will come from the state level.

“I think the next president is not going to come out of Washington, D.C.,” Lummis said during an interview with the Wyoming Tribune Eagle. “I think the next president is going to come out of a governor’s office.”

“I would point to Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida as a governor whose policies in governing a very large state have been tremendously positive,” she continued. “I would point to (South Dakota Gov.) Kristi Noem as the example of someone who’s governing a small state in a way that protects individual freedom. Then, I’d look at Gov. Greg Abbott, whose policies are creating a very strong Texas economy, and fair and legitimate immigration policies. So, I see the innovators in the Republican Party right now coming out of the ranks of governor’s offices.

“I think that that is at least the short-term future of the American Republican Party, of the ‘America First’ agenda, as it’s being articulated and implemented by the nation’s Republican governors,” she added.

Asked in the interview whether former President Donald Trump should play a role in the GOP’s future, Lummis declined to explicitly respond, but stated her strong support for the former president’s policies as a platform that should remain relevant.

“I believe President Trump’s policies should play a major role in the future of the Republican Party,” Lummis said.

Lummis pointed to “unprecedented” employment growth among Black, Hispanic, Asian American and female populations as a result of Trump administration policies.

While it is true that jobless rates among Black and Hispanic Americans reached record lows during the Trump administration, Associated Press and NPR fact checks in recent years have found such claims to be slightly exaggerated, with those unemployment rates already trending down prior to Trump taking office.

Lummis also noted the lowest-paid quartile of U.S. workers saw a higher increase in wage income than the top 25% of earners during Trump’s presidency, a statistic affirmed by the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. The senator said those statistics reflect how “the economic policies of the Trump administration were fulfilling the goals of the American people.”

“We (also) had a stronger policy toward our southern border, a better policy where immigrants coming in who were not seeking political asylum, but were seeking a better job, were retained in Mexico before they crossed the border,” Lummis said. “Now, we’re seeing people in pens crowded and sleeping in the dirt, because the policy changed after President Trump left office.”

The Biden administration has taken some steps counter to Trump’s immigration approach, including a halt of the border wall’s construction and an end to his “Remain in Mexico” policy. In February, federal officials also reopened a tent facility in Texas that houses up to 700 immigrant teenagers unaccompanied by a parent. Originally used during Trump’s presidency, the facility had been closed since July 2019.

The only point on which Lummis distanced herself from Trump was regarding the levels of spending seen under his administration, stating she is “much more fiscally conservative.”

Regarding the presidential race, Lummis’ comments came just a few days after Wyoming’s congresswoman, Republican Liz Cheney, told the New York Post that she was not ruling out a future bid for president, stating she was “not ruling anything in or out” in the future.

Meanwhile, Lummis, who was first elected to the Senate seat last year, maintained the GOP’s “innovators” were coming from those at the state level who have backed Trump’s policies.

“I’m strongly committed to President Trump’s ‘America First’ policy, with the exception of the level of spending,” Lummis said. “I think that those policies transcend whoever is the right spokesman for that message.”

Tom Coulter is the Wyoming Tribune Eagle’s state government reporter. He can be reached at tcoulter@wyomingnews.com or 307-633-3124. Follow him on Twitter at @tomcoulter_.

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