Winney: Candidate back in ‘08
Following a 2006 campaign in which he says he earned 40 percent of the vote, won two counties and nearly carried Natrona County, Republican Bill Winney is on the campaign trail once again seeking Wyoming’s lone seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. “That’s not a bad vote of confidence, so I’ll try it again,” he says.
Retired from the U.S. Navy following multiple years in the Pentagon, Winney says his message today is similar to what it was in 2006 as it pertains to Congress – “We can do better.” Since announcing his candidacy back in November he says he’s been traveling the state, attending Lincoln Day dinners and meeting with potential voters.
Primary goals for the Winney campaign include items he says he’s heard about frequently on the campaign trail – immigration and budget reform. “It’s not just an immigration issue, it’s a security issue. It’s immigration, but it’s also drugs and those sorts of things.”
“The budget comes up everywhere. Congress has to discipline itself,” he explains. “There’s an enormous amount of money being spent.” On the campaign trail in 2006 he says he sat down and figured out just what the budget scenario means to America. At the time he says the $8.6 trillion deficit on a 30-year mortgage at a reduced rate of four percent, would have resulted in a $40 billion a month payment. “We’ve already handed that bill to our children,” he says of the growing deficit. While earmarking is one aspect of the conversation that gets a lot of attention he says the effort to change needs to go much deeper.
On issues specific to Wyoming agriculture, Winney says he supports reform of the Endangered Species Act. “The ESA is used too easily by environmental groups to slow down and muck up the process. Environmentalists don’t take issues to court because they have a sound, scientific argument, but because they have an end goal in mind and they can use the courts to impede the process. It’s the responsibility of Congress to remove their ability to do that.”
Winney also doesn’t support pending designation of Wyoming’s Snake River as “Wild and Scenic.” He fears it would bring unwarranted regulation to ranchers along the waterway and in adjacent basins. “You can fence off too much of this nation,” he comments. “There’s a point where you reduce the productive ability of the nation through these things. You can’t preserve what you can’t protect. In order to protect crown jewels, like Yellowstone National Park, and that’s not the only one, you have to have a strong economy from which flows the funding for many other things.” As to special designations, he adds, “There has to be some limits on those sorts of things.”
“I tend to be a person that believes in free trade because the stock and trade of this country is business and innovation, hard work and blood, sweat and tears,” says Winney. “To the extent that we in this nation can do that in an unfettered manner, we usually do pretty good.” Aware of challenges surrounding trade, including the loss of American jobs, Winney says there’s opportunity in exports for sectors like the beef industry. “If we want to have free access to their markets, there is a reciprocity issue,” he says of the need to pursue trade while protecting jobs.
“You’ve got to have competition,” says Winney when asked about pending further consolidation in the meatpacking sector. “If you don’t have competition, prices go up.” What should government’s role be in ensuring competition? “As a Republican, I don’t like to have the government into things,” he says, adding they do need to play a role in ensuring adequate competition. “There’s a point when the government has to say no.”
When it comes to water Winney says he’s concerned about Wyoming not using its full allocation of water under the Colorado River Compact. “They’re using it other places downstream and Wyoming has to be very careful about that or we’ll lose that allocation. Wyoming’s delegation needs to pay attention to that.”
“I pay attention,” says Winney when asked why Wyoming’s agricultural community should support him in his quest for Congress. He says he’s developed relationships with the agricultural community that allows him to learn and gather information. “They don’t hesitate to tell me what’s important to them. I can take that information and integrate it with my understanding of how Washington works. Voting is not enough. You’ve got to walk and talk, shake hands and get other members of Congress to agree with you. I understand having your feet on the ground in Wyoming and I’d take that back to Washington with me.”
For the time being Winney says his campaign office is being run out of his Suburban, but he plans to open campaign offices this coming summer. His campaign can be found on-line at www.winforwyoming.com. Jennifer Womack is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to firstname.lastname@example.org.