Wyoming native Rod Miller is running for the U.S. House of Representatives seat against Liz Cheney and Blake Stanley. (GAZETTE PHOTO / Theresa Davis)
Rod Miller is running for Wyoming’s lone seat in the U.S House of Representatives. The seat is currently held by Rep. Liz Cheney, who is running for re-election. Also in the Republican race is Blake Stanley.
Miller spoke with the Gazette about what motivated him to run, and why he thinks his “for Wyoming, from Wyoming” philosophy makes him the right candidate for the job.
“Wyoming is not a culture you can absorb overnight,” Miller said. “We only get one seat in the House, so that person has a responsibility to know the people of Wyoming and be in touch with the issues they want to see addressed.”
Miller expressed concern that Rep. Cheney has spent too much time in Washington, D.C., without returning to Wyoming and visiting with the people.
“It would be my job to bring the Wyoming message to D.C.,” Miller said. “Currently it’s backwards, because Cheney is trying to bring the D.C. message back to Wyoming.”
Miller grew up on a ranch near Rawlins. He worked for both Gov. Ed Herschler and Gov. Mike Sullivan as a natural resource staffer.
He said a focal point of his campaign is protecting public lands.
“There’s talk about giving the federal land in Wyoming to the states, and I would simply not let that happen,” Miller said.
Miller said there is a “dynamic tension” between federal agencies and industries like timber, grazing, coal, oil and gas.
“We as a state have developed the skills to manipulate and work with those agencies to our advantage on public lands,” Miller said. “We know what we’re doing.”
Miller spoke of the danger facing Wyoming’s public lands.
“If you auction that land to the highest bidder, it ceases to become Wyoming,” Miller said. “I will continue to push hard on the public lands issue.”
Another issue Miller wants to address if elected is the ever-increasing national debt.
“Congress needs to have the courage to make cuts,” Miller said. “If it’s going to get done, everyone’s favorite programs will face cuts. We should all feel the pain, but my hope is that it will be painful enough that we will realize how much we don’t want to be in this position again.”
Miller said that Congress has been “punting too many issues to the president.”
“With issues like military doctrine and international diplomacy, Congress has settled for relegating those roles to the president, so they become either passive cheerleaders or an angry mob,” Miller said. “Those issues are Congress’ responsibility, and it’s time to stop avoiding them.”
Miller discussed what he called the
“unwillingness of Congress” to work across party lines to get things done. He told a story of two Texas Congressmen from different parties in the early 1900s who rode together to work every day to discuss the country’s issues and how to deal with them.
“That would never happen today,” Miller said. “Elected officials feel they owe more allegiance to their party than the state or nation, so they do what makes themselves and their party look good.”
Miller said he would work with other representatives, no matter their party, in order to create the best solutions to the nation’s problems.
“I know if I get elected, I will have a lot of eyeballs on me, like ‘how did this weird looking guy beat Liz Cheney?’” Miller said. “My dream is to get all the freshman congressmen and women together and have a big party, so we get to know each other as human beings first.”
“People realize that the way Congress works with each other now has ground our wheels to a stop,” Miller continued. “How you drain the swamp is you do the job together.”
Miller reflected on what he has learned during this campaign. He said he is frustrated at the role money plays in politics and races.
“I want to show people that you don’t need $1 million to run a campaign if you really care about the issues,” Miller said. “I’ve enjoyed hearing directly from the Wyoming people about what they need. There is not a sense of hopelessness, because the people of Wyoming believe we can correct our missteps.”
Miller said he is disappointed that Rep. Cheney has not accepted his invitation to a series of debates.
“Debates are a fundamental part of the American political process,” Miller said. “They create a public of informed voters, and incumbents like Cheney who have a voting record shouldn’t lack for something to talk about.”
Miller said he understands the importance of Wyoming’s energy economy.
“God bless the energy business,” Miller said. “Wyoming can be the energy center of the country for many years into the future.”
“We have to realize that we’re not exporting coal, oil or gas — we’re exporting energy,” Miller continued. “The market just wants the lights on, so we need to work within the regulations and the market to keep our economy and our exports going.”
Miller said growing up on a ranch and working as a cowboy gave him the Wyoming values necessary to represent the state in Congress.
“On a ranch, you learn to see the big picture,” Miller said. “I learned personal responsibility. Sometimes it’s just you and a horse and your shovel, and you have to get a job done. I learned to be a good neighbor. When bad things happen, everybody pitches in.”
The primary election is on Tuesday, August 21.