CHEYENNE – Over his 20-plus years of international teaching in countries like Germany and Thailand, Carl Beach noticed many policies that he thought could be brought back to his home state of Wyoming.
“I was a part of all these nations that are very different in terms of their political alliance or their cultures, but they all provided universal basic health care for their citizens,” Beach said. “I was a part of that program in each one of those countries, and really appreciated the security that it gave me.”
Beyond his own experiences, Beach pointed to statistics reflecting that reality. Per-capita spending on health care in the U.S. is much higher than in other developed countries, yet Americans see worse health outcomes, according to multiple studies.
Health care is one of the main issues driving Beach’s decision to run as a Democrat for Wyoming’s sole seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. In making his announcement this week, Beach became the first campaign opponent for U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney, who has held the seat since 2016.
The 44-year-old Wyoming native supports a single-payer, “Medicare for All”-style health care system. Beach argued many of the public’s fears about subpar services in a single-payer system are misplaced.
In his view, states’ recent struggles to obtain ventilators and other medical supplies further highlight the fragmented nature of the current U.S. health care system.
“I see a single-payer system, or a universal basic health care system providing the unity and uniform funding that we would need to really tackle this better,” Beach said of the current coronavirus outbreak. “There’s always going to still be tough choices to make ... but I think there would be more equity in the distribution of both funding and supplies.”
Along with health care, Beach said he hopes to focus on promoting workers’ rights and protecting public lands during his campaign, which will look a little different than originally planned.
Beach’s original hope was to venture into every part of Wyoming to reach people face to face. Given the sudden reality of the COVID-19 pandemic, “that plan has changed quite a bit,” he said. But Beach hopes to still reach people through his website, which will allow members of the public to schedule face-to-face time with him virtually.
Meanwhile, Cheney’s campaign is sure to be well-funded. The congresswoman’s campaign committee reported an ending balance of more than $700,000 at the end of 2019 to the Federal Election Commission. While aware of his opponent’s resources, Beach said the rise of social media, along with Wyoming’s population size, “democratizes the race a little bit.”
“We have a lot of tools now that we can utilize really effectively and easily with very little money,” Beach said. “I started this campaign with just my laptop.”
Cheney announced her plan to seek reelection in January, while simultaneously shooting down speculation that she would be running for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Mike Enzi, who is retiring.
Beach said he was originally weighing a run for Enzi’s seat, but as more Democrat candidates emerged – including multiple well-connected women – he felt it would be “inappropriate” to jump into that crowded field. He eventually decided running against Cheney made more sense.
“As I watched this race unfold, I saw that no one was really stepping up for the House and to challenge the current Republican establishment,” Beach said. “I just got to that point where I said, ‘Hey, if it’s not going to be me, who’s it going to be?’”
No other in-state Democratic candidates have announced plans to run for the House seat as of Monday, though that could change before the Aug. 18 primary election. The official filing period runs from May 14-29. The general election will be held Nov. 3.