“I want to thank the Mayor and the City of Gillette for allowing me to hold this conference here today. The City of Gillette has been and is a big part of my life and Diana’s life. We moved here the first week we were married and started a shoe store. You never know where life is going to lead you.
“I am currently on a journey that started two blocks from here in my church. I was recovering from open-heart surgery just seven months before. I had been getting encouragement to run for Senator Simpson’s open US Senate seat from friends, city councils, county commissioners and legislators. I had been saying no, feeling sorry for myself. In church my wandering mind said, “I’ve put in lots of public service. I’ve had this heart problem. It’s about time that I got to hunt and fish.....when I got this nudge, ‘I didn’t keep you alive to hunt and fish!’” I left church in tears and this journey began without ever having run for state-wide office.
“I like being a Senator. Not for the title. Not for the recognition and certainly not for publicity. I like solving federal problems for Wyoming people. I like doing legislation. I’ve developed a pathway that brings people together. I’ve gotten to work with an incredible staff that have made it possible to do more than a Senator by himself could do.
“My first Senate bill preserved property rights for Campbell County people who had coal bed methane on their property when the federal government decided the methane was part of the coal and wanted royalties returned. I got that passed unanimously in a single legislative month WITH opposition from coal companies and some tribes.
“Senator Kennedy after criticizing a safety bill I had written, asked me to look at his Needlestick Bill designed to get proper receptacles to discard used needles so people wouldn’t be accidentally stuck and contract a disease. He had been championing it for years. I suggested a couple of changes. It passed unanimously. He and I were able to find common ground a number of times after that.
“I got Wyoming’s Abandoned Mine Land money that had been accumulating for years finally turned loose for Wyoming projects... and then worked with the delegation to protect it.
”I have done significant Mine safety changes.
“I’ve been a leader on major pension protection.
“I played a part in fixing No Child Left Behind.
“I got to take a lead on the bill that is ending the AIDS epidemic in Africa that has led to ways that are saving lives in America.
“I found a solution to passing Mental Health Parity.
“As you do DNA testing for your heritage, you should know that Senator Kennedy and I passed a bill years ago the prohibits that test from being used to claim pre-existing health conditions.
“The Tax Cut and Jobs Act came through my Budget Committee.
“I was able to get Career and Technical Education passed unanimously to allow more people to learn skills where they use their hands.
“My first bill passed unanimously. The last bill - so far - passed unanimously. Most of my bills have 15 or less votes in opposition which is very bipartisan.
“I’ve gotten to Chair the Health, Education, Labor and Pension Committee - a big bite of the apple. I chair the Budget Committee and live the debt problem. On average I’ve returned more than 20 percent of my office budget each year.
“I do several things not in my job description that I think are helpful - like the Inventors conference. I also started a procurement conference that brings Wyoming businesses together with people from the federal government who are looking to buy goods and services that are better or less expensive. I do Wyoming Works tours that take me into businesses that are new to me and may be unheard of even in Wyoming. That helps me look for unintended consequences that could be detrimental unless corrected in legislation.
“My biggest job, as it turns out, is to solve individual problems people are having with the Federal government. My staff in Wyoming and I have worked some 14,000 of those problems for Wyoming people.
“I never intended to get into politics! But I was Mayor eight years during the first Gillette boom. I got to work with some amazing people who didn’t know what couldn’t be done - so we did it! We laid down a foundation for the future - Water for 30,000 people with an approved plan to follow that paid it off, additional water tanks, sewer, sewer treatment, county responsible for landfills, electricity system looped with a second substation, a street plan for the future - to name a few.
“I was in the state legislature 10 years passing many bills even chairing the Revenue Committee while I learned from some outstanding mentors who were truly legislators. I learned how to legislate and then developed my 80 percent tool that is often mentioned as an 80% rule and in use Washington today.
“So far, I have served in the US Senate for more than 22 years. Diana and I have been in Wyoming most weekends often traveling 500 miles by car each weekend. That means I’ve worked in Washington 4 days a week and Wyoming 3 days a week which uses up all of the week. When we have a recess which I call a “work period” Diana and I usually travel around Wyoming some 1500 miles by car. We are on planes 8 to 14 hours a week. We live out of a suitcase on both ends. I’m not complaining. I chose the job and have always worked at a job and was taught to do a job so well that I would be proud to put my name on it. In two more years Diana and I will have done that for 24 years for you. That’s a longer elected Senate service than anyone in Wyoming history.
“I am an advocate for Gillette and Campbell County and Wyoming. I point out that everyone lives at the local level. No one lives at the Federal level - or even the state level, so Diana and I are your Chamber of Commerce and economic development people for every town and county in Wyoming all the time.
“My kids and grandkids have all helped me. My family has had to bear criticism solely because of their relation to me - and they didn’t run for the job. I couldn’t do this job without them. I especially need Diana’s help. She puts in countless hours traveling with me, filling in for me, driving for me, and talking to people for me.. This was not on her list of things to do, but she has done it tirelessly and been my best advisor. Diana is the core of my scheduling decisions. She is my best support and strongest defender and promoter.
“Diana is also the most thoughtful person I know. Her Christmas cookie party thanks the real workers, the janitors, the electricians, the plumbers , the guards as a few examples. They look forward to her 200 dozen cookie thank you event. She also coordinates a Land Mine Dog project by school kids. She works with spouses and projects in Wyoming and in the DC community.
“So here’s what I came to announce today. I have much to get done in the next year and a half. I want to be able to focus on budget reform to get control of our national debt; Several small business initiatives; Protecting and diversifying Wyoming’s Jobs. I don’t want to be burdened with the distractions of a campaign. After this term I will find other ways to serve.
“I’m leaving the Senate and House in good hands since John and Liz are in leadership. I can see a future when Representative Cheney will be the Speaker of the House and Senator Barrasso will be the Senate Majority Leader.
“During my life I’ve followed my Mom’s advice, my core values: Do what’s right. Do your best. Treat others as they want to be treated. I can’t do the kind of job Diana and I have been doing for another six year term. I was able to see my kids grow up before I went in the Senate. Now I want some grandkid time. I will continue to be the Workhorse for Wyoming that you expect me to be through this term. My deepest thanks and appreciation to the people of Wyoming for the honor and privilege that you have given to represent you in so many different ways.”