Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Cynthia Lummis: Wyoming's Congresswoman

Cynthia Lummis: Wyoming's New Congresswoman

Most people do not realize that the state of Wyoming has had only one Congressional District since Statehood. Wyoming's "at-large" district is the fourth largest in the country and is also the least populated. It has been held by notable people such as former Vice President Dick Cheney and Senator Craig L. Thomas and is currently the largest district in the country being represented by a female. That woman is Cynthia Lummis, who was elected to the seat in November 2008. Here is a look at Wyoming's only Congresswoman.

Cynthia Marie Lummis was born on September 10, 1954 and raised in Laramie County, Wyoming, on her family's ranch. She was active in 4-H as a child, raising Hereford calves for the annual county fair. In 1919, her great-grandfather started the Lummis Livestock company and Lummis still runs the ranch today, as well as ranches in Wheatland and Lincoln Counties.

After graduating from high school, Lumis attended the University of Wyoming, where she graduated with two bachelor of science degrees: one in animal science and one in biology. A year later, she entered politics at the age of 24, becoming the youngest woman ever elected to the Wyoming Legislature. She eventually returned to the University of Wyoming, graduating with a law degree in 1985.

Lummis was a member of the Wyoming Senate for twelve years and the Wyoming House of Representatives for three. She was the first woman to serve on the Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo Board and became "Miss Frontier" in 1976. While serving in the Legislature, her main focuses were taxes and natural resources. She was a driving force behind Governor Jim Geringer's Open Spaces Initiative and edited Wyoming's Open Lands Guidebook, and she has served on the Board of the Institute for Environmental and Natural Resources at the University of Wyoming, as well as being the former interim director of the Office of State Lands and Investments.

Many people accredit Lummis with sharp increases in state revenue during her time in local office and in 1998, she was elected State Treasurer. She served two four-year terms. During that time, she, according to her website, "converted Wyoming’s primarily fixed income investment portfolio of $3.5 billion to a fully diversified portfolio of equities, real estate and fixed income investments, public and private, domestic and international, totaling $8.5 billion."

While serving as State Treasurer, she was named a "Women in Business Advocate of the Year 2005" by the Small Business Administration. She was also honored by the University of Wyoming (UW) College of Agriculture as an "Outstanding Alumni." Lummi was affiliated with the American Women's Financial Education Foundation, the Center for the Rocky Mountain West Advisory Board, Cheyenne's Vision 2020, the Wyoming Business Alliance, and the Wyoming Stock Growers Agricultural Land Trust.

In 2007, upon the death of Senator Thomas, Lummis was just one of 31 Wyoming Republicans looking to replace him in the Senate. She was chosen as one of three finalists for the position but eventually lost to John Barrasso. Many believed she would challenge him in the 2008 special election but instead, she announced she'd be running for Congress. Despite not receiving report from the state's Governor and not having the same financial backing of her opponents, Lummis won the seat by 10%. She campaigned on a pro-life, fiscally conservative platform.

Though she's only been in Congress for a year, Lummis is already making her voice heard. She serves on the Committee on Agriculture, Committee on the Budget, and Committee on Natural Resources. She has been a critic of the current administration's excessive government spending and of health care reform. You can see more about what she has to say on health care and her constituents' concerns about their health care choices and lack of competition here:

Lummis is married to attorney and businessman Al Wiederspahn. Widerspahn, like his wife, is also a former member of the Wyoming legislature, but unlike his wife is a Democrat. The couple has one daughter, Annaliese. They are members of the Trinity Lutheran Church in Cheyenne.

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