By Joel Funk
Wyoming Tribune Eagle
Via Wyoming News Exchange
CHEYENNE – A constitutionalist conservative candidate for U.S. House said his Christian faith will guide his conduct if elected to serve in Congress.
Blake Stanley of Cheyenne is challenging U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., in the Republican primary as she makes her first re-election bid.
Following daily political news and establishing firm policy positions isn’t really what Stanley’s concerned about as he kicks off his campaign. As such, he said he’s not sure about specifics when it comes to how Cheney has represented Wyoming since taking office after her 2016 election.
“I haven’t followed her that much, though I know she’s run as a conservative,” Stanley said. “On pro-gun she’s done OK, but some of her voting records haven’t been that conservative. Just talking to people in the state it’s something I hear a lot.”
While Stanley said he “has nothing against” Cheney, he thinks Wyoming is ready for a congressional delegate who is not a career politician. As someone who has “basically been blue collar all (his) life,” Stanley said he thinks he would be a better representative of the constituency than Cheney.
“People are just thinking we need to get the professional politicians out,” he said.
Stanley said he wouldn’t give particular instances where he thinks Cheney’s voting record was less than conservative, but he did point to Cheney’s vote in support of the omnibus spending bill President Donald Trump criticized in March.
On March 23 – the day Trump said “he would never sign another bill like this again” – Cheney released a statement supporting the president’s position that the “budget system is badly broken,” and that she only voted for the spending package to increase defense spending because of threats to national security.
Stanley said he understands how Cheney could end up in that position, but he wouldn’t take that approach. For example, any bill that includes funding for Planned Parenthood wouldn’t get Stanley’s vote, he said.
“My moral beliefs and conscience, even if there’s 10 things on there I want and yet (funding for Planned Parenthood) is on there, I can’t put my name on that,” Stanley said.
In Stanley’s mind, it speaks to his not having a middle ground on issues.
“It’s right or it’s wrong, it’s black or it’s white,” he said.
The majority of society’s problems could be fixed, Stanley said, by electing “godly, moral men” – and he sees himself as one of those men.
“That’s how the country was founded and designed to be run on,” he said. “There’s a quote by one of the Founding Fathers that says our system of government is unsuitable for anything but godly, moral people.”
That, Stanley said, would be the starting place for beginning to understand the issues he’d be voting on in Congress if elected.
“I don’t have all the answers, but I can get them,” Stanley said. “I’ll seek council from the people that I trust.”
With no political experience, Stanley said he knows he has a difficult road ahead to beat the powerful incumbent. Cheney had a strong performance in her 2016 campaign where accusations of carpet-bagging were repeatedly slung by her opponents. She’ll likely enjoy strong support from her base in 2018, as evidenced during the State Republican Party Convention in Laramie in April.
But Stanley said he’s hired a campaign consultant out of Anchorage, Alaska, who specializes in campaigns for Christian candidates. It was recommended to him, Stanley said, by an instructor at Charis Bible College in Colorado Springs, Colorado, where he completed a program in 2009.
The college also offers a program on government, outlining its view on the “threats facing … freedoms” from a secularized public sector, and includes a course on running for office.
In speaking to people around the state and from his own observations, Stanley said the economy appears to be improving. He said he thinks Wyoming and the nation are “on the right course” following Trump’s election in 2016.
“I don’t think he’s the perfect man, but maybe he’s what we needed,” Stanley said.
Stanley said repeatedly that he’s not a perfect man either. But he considers himself honest and a man of integrity who would be the right fit for the path the country’s been on for the last 17 months.
Members of Congress are paid $174,000 annually. Members of the U.S. House serve two-year terms.