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March 23, 2010 3:54 am

Simpson announces run for governor

Written by Tribune Staff

Republican Colin Simpson of Cody announced his candidacy for the Wyoming governor's seat before an audience of family, friends and supporters during a campaign stop in Cody on Thursday evening.

He cited his proven experience, strength and stability as qualifications for the job.

Having served nearly 12 years in the Wyoming House of Representatives — the last two of which he was Speaker of the House — Simpson said he understands the state's strengths and needs and the wishes of its residents.

“Wyoming is a land of great opportunity,” Simpson said. “We have a natural environment second to none; we have mineral wealth that funds our schools and keeps our personal taxes low; we have abundant wildlife and public lands upon which we can recreate and hunt and fish. We are very blessed.

“What I can provide as governor is a passion for improving what we have,” he added, such as providing the best educational opportunities, protecting outdoor life and sporting opportunities and ensuring safe communities and schools. He also stressed providing business opportunities and creating good jobs to help keep young people in the state and to help even out the state's boom-and-bust cycles.

“I am a fiscal conservative, and I understand very well Wyoming's budget and the policies and priorities behind the budget,” he said. “I believe that Wyoming's energy-dependent economy will continue to go through boom and bust cycles, and the state must continue to place a priority on long- and short-term savings ...

“I understand well the relationship between cheap and available energy, skilled labor, multiple use of resources, environmental protections and hands-off government to create and maintain thriving businesses and jobs.”

Simpson said he is innovative, and he knows how to work with Wyoming leaders and lawmakers in both parties to solve key issues affecting the state.

He said state officials can use energy as a base on which to grow by investing in small businesses and business infrastructure and focusing on workforce development.

In addition, “We must set clear, measurable goals for education, job growth and creation, economic development, wildlife protection and public lands access, and chart sensible courses to achieve these goals,” he said.

Simpson said he strongly values individual liberty and will defend it fiercely.

In addition, “I will continue to lead and innovate to ensure that the future of our energy economy is driven by Wyoming and its neighboring states and not controlled by federal bureaucrats,” he said.

He cited legislation he sponsored successfully to determine how purchasing health insurance across state lines could make health insurance more available and affordable for state residents.

However, Simpson said Monday he opposes the federal health care bill, and if elected, he will direct the Wyoming attorney general to join legal actions brought by other states challenging its constitutionality.

“Nowhere in the United States Constitution is Congress given the authority to mandate that citizens purchase something they might not want to buy,” Simpson said in a news release.

Simpson said the bill, in its current form, would harm the growth of Wyoming's economy.

“(It) nearly triples the penalty on small businesses who don't offer health care insurance to their employees and applies these taxes to part-time as well as full-time workers,” he said. “At a time when unemployment in Wyoming is nearing 8 percent, we can't afford to add thousands of dollars in new taxes to the backs of Wyoming's small business owners.”

Simpson's announcement ended months of speculation about whether he would seek the governor's seat. Simpson joins fellow GOP candidates Matt Mead, Rita Meyer and Ron Micheli in the race. Gov. Dave Freudenthal will not seek a third term, and no Democrats have announced candidacy.

On Thursday, he said, “I will lead the Wyoming way, not Washington's ... I understand Wyoming's people, its culture, its businesses and industries and its government, and I am ready to lead Wyoming into the next decade.”