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Harriet Hageman says she was elected to fight, not to find middle ground

Harriet Hageman
Harriet Hageman Campaign Photo

On election night, Wyoming Public Radio’s Melodie Edwards had the chance to speak with Harriet Hageman only moments after she learned she’d won Wyoming’s lone seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. Edwards asked her about bringing the state together after a contentious run against Liz Cheney and Democrat Lynette Grey Bull, and about her first priorities. Here’s what Hageman had to say.

Melodie Edwards: To start, do you mind just saying your name and your title?

Harriet Hageman: Well, I'm Harriet Hageman. And I guess you would say – this is the first time I've said this – I am the newly elected member of the House of Representatives from the state of Wyoming… I didn't know what to say [laughter].

ME: Right? It was hard to put those words together. Yeah, well, you better get used to it! So what are you going to tackle first?

HH: Well, that is from my standpoint, or from the standpoint of the caucus, it's my understanding that one of the things we're going to be addressing first is trying to find a way to stop Biden from hiring 87,000 IRS agents. None of us believe that there is a reason for our federal government to more than double the capacity and size of the IRS.

But we also need to block the entire Biden agenda, and that's what we will be focusing on. I know that he will work through executive orders and regulations and guidance documents and all of the other nonsense that they do in Washington, D.C. to try to further his agenda. But his legislative agenda will now be stopped in its tracks.

ME: It has been a pretty contentious election. I wonder if you can talk a little bit about how we might be able to now move forward and come together as a state and as a country?

HH: I guess I don't know that I see that it has been as contentious of an election as you may say that it is. Politics are about competing ideas and I have a different vision and different ideas than Liz Cheney and Lynette Grey Bull. I do not agree with the Democrats and I'm not going to apologize for that or try to find a way to compromise, to reach a middle ground, so that I'm moving more towards the Democrats. That's not where I am. I will be winning a resounding victory in the state of Wyoming and people are not voting for me to go in and implement a Democrat or a Democrat-light agenda. They voted for me to go in and fight for our energy industries and fight to secure the border and fight inflation.

So it's been a contentious election because I think that the opposition party has wanted it to be a contentious election. They want to fight over the future of democracy, which is such a ridiculous thing to say in the first place, because we're not a democracy. But they want to focus on things that are not important, and then attempt to brand Republicans as something that we're not. We're not extremists. We are people who are actually very middle of the road in terms of wanting to make sure that we can put food on our table, gas in our car and a roof over our head.

ME: I know that is really a concern, the high inflation. I wonder if you have ideas for how to help Wyomingites with that.

HH: Sure, stop printing money. The federal government has got to stop printing money. The federal government has got to stop spending money. If big government and big spending were the solution to all of our problems, we wouldn't have any problems, right? I mean, we're almost $32 trillion in debt. We've had massive, massive, massive spending bills come out of Congress and the Biden administration since January of 2021. And all it's done is wreck our economy. So the way that we've got to fight back against inflation is the federal government has got to stop spending money, they've got to stop printing money, they've got to stop flooding the market with money. And we need to get back to some common sense fiscal policies, which is not what we've had for almost two years now.

ME: Last question, how do you feel Wyoming’s election integrity was tonight?

HH: I don't know, it seems odd to me that it took two and a half hours to call my race. And so I think that there are questions as to finding out what happened with that. I don't know what you mean by election integrity. I believe that, from my standpoint, election integrity is things like voter ID laws, and making sure that only citizens are voting and that kind of thing. So I know that there's been a lot of controversy about this, but I think that Chuck Gray clearly was elected from the standpoint that people want to have confidence in their elections. And it is so early, it's 9:42 p.m.. The polls closed at seven. I don't know whether there were issues or problems. I can tell you that my team throughout the day was checking with all of our county clerks throughout the state throughout the entire day. We get along great with the county clerks around the state of Wyoming. I think they do a fabulous job. I think they work really hard at it. Whether there are some things that we need to change is kind of a separate issue. I think there are some things that we can do differently. I think that there are some statutory changes that would be beneficial to Wyoming.

That's not to undermine the current election, and that's not to call into question the current outcome of this election. It’s just the recognition that I think that there are ways to probably shore up our elections a bit. But as far as what happened tonight, I'm just proud to have the opportunity to represent Wyoming. I appreciate everybody in Wyoming who voted for me. I think the county clerks do a great job. I think our Secretary of State's office does a great job. [But] there's always room for improvement.

Melodie Edwards is the host and producer of WPM's award-winning podcast The Modern West. Her Ghost Town(ing) series looks at rural despair and resilience through the lens of her hometown of Walden, Colorado. She has been a radio reporter at WPM since 2013, covering topics from wildlife to Native American issues to agriculture.
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