By: Dave Dodson, Conservative contributor to the Wyoming Tribune Eagle and 2018 Candidate for U.S. Senate.
Sen. John Barrasso and I were rivals in a tough Republican primary fight this year, from which he emerged as the victor, for which I congratulate him.
He went on to win the general election over Democrat Gary Trauner last week, which got me thinking about my hopes for Sen. Barrasso’s next term, and the goals he and I share for our country and state.
This is my open letter to him on that subject:
Dear Sen. Barrasso,
Congratulations on your Election Day victory! While we had policy differences during the Republican primary, it was always clear to me that we both shared a love for Wyoming and for our country. With that in mind, as you begin your third term as my U.S. senator, I wish you the greatest success.
As my wife, Wendy, and I traveled 30,000 miles crisscrossing our state by truck during the campaign, knocking on hundreds of doors, we had the honor of meeting thousands of Wyomingites, who generously told me their hopes, concerns and frustrations. Mostly they were regular people who had followed the rules, worked hard and loved their families, but at the same time felt overlooked by a government that seemed primarily driven to serve political careers or special interests.
I can’t possibly recall all the people who told me they were barely able to afford their prescription drugs, let alone their monthly health insurance premium. I suspect you heard many of the same stories. As Wyoming’s doctor, I’m confident you’ll work across the aisle with the Democratic House members to craft legislation that will make health care affordable and accessible to all Wyoming families – because there’s nothing partisan about the health of our loved ones.
You and I also heard over and over Wyomingites’ frustration with the role of money in our political system, where dollars buy access, influence and, sadly, sometimes votes. With six-year terms between elections, our Founding Fathers created the Senate as a branch of government largely removed from the constant pressures of re-election, and I hope you’ll use Wyoming’s U.S. Senate seat to become a leader in campaign finance reform. You don’t need to look any farther than the “green wave” of billionaire money that swept across these midterms to confirm that’s a “must do.”
I’m old enough to remember that we Republicans used to be the party of fiscal discipline. I hope your vote this year against the recent omnibus budget bill signals a commitment we share to reducing a deficit that has become so massive that in 15 short years we will have no way to fund Social Security or Medicare, let alone rebuild our infrastructure to keep America competitive and maintain our military capability.
Wyomingites will respect you, and re-elect you, for making hard choices in the next budget battle. They trust you, and know hard decisions are required to ensure a future for our children.
Finally, you and your colleague, Sen. Mike Enzi, are in a unique position, given your seniority in the Senate, to fulfill a Republican dream that was initiated by Newt Gingrich in the “Contract with America,” and which has been embraced by President Trump: Congressional term limits. Putting in limits on how long future senators and representatives can serve will have no impact on either of your careers, yet will open a path for the hundreds of capable future public servants, anxious to help their communities, yet blocked by a system of incumbency that 88.3 percent of Wyomingites want ended.
As my U.S. senator, I support your success, and believe you have the potential to join the ranks of Wyoming political giants like Sens. Simpson and Wallop. If there is anything I can do to help, you need only ask.
Former Republican candidate, U.S. Senate