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2401Conservative Wyo. surgeon named senator

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  • Greg Cannon
    Jun 22, 2007

      Conservative Wyo. surgeon named senator

      By BOB MOEN, Associated Press Writer 6 minutes ago

      CHEYENNE, Wyo. - Republican John Barrasso, a surgeon
      and conservative Wyoming legislator, was named as the
      country's newest U.S. senator Friday to replace the
      late Craig Thomas.

      The temporary appointment, announced by Wyoming's
      governor, is effective immediately, but it won't
      effect the Senate's party breakdown since Thomas was
      also a Republican. He died June 4 while being treated
      for leukemia.

      Barrasso, 54, will serve in Thomas' place until the
      beginning of 2009. He said on his application that he
      also intends to then run in a November 2008 special
      election to serve out the remainder of Thomas' term,
      which ends in 2013.

      Barrasso also left no doubt that he will be a
      conservative voice in Washington.

      "I believe in limited government, lower taxes, less
      spending, traditional family values, local control and
      a strong national defense," the orthopedic surgeon and
      state senator from Casper wrote in his application.

      He said he has "voted for prayer in schools, against
      gay marriage and have sponsored legislation to protect
      the sanctity of life."

      Barrasso did not immediately return a telephone
      message from The Associated Press seeking comment

      State Republican Party officials had given Gov. Dave
      Freudenthal a slate of three nominees from which he
      had to choose the temporary replacement for Thomas.
      Freudenthal, a Democrat, chose Barrasso over Cheyenne
      attorney Tom Sansonetti and former state Treasurer
      Cynthia Lummis.

      "There are many factors that went into this decision,
      and it was the sum of these factors that led me to
      this choice," the governor said. "While I don't intend
      to indulge the speculation on why I made this
      decision, I will say that I hope I made the right

      Barrasso, a state senator since 2003, rose quickly in
      the Legislature and became chairman of the Senate
      Transportation, Highway and Military Affairs

      He ran for the U.S. Senate in the 1990s, but lost the
      1996 Republican primary to Mike Enzi, now the state's
      senior senator.

      University of Wyoming political science professor
      James King said the state won't see much change in its
      political representation in Congress, though
      Barrasso's medical background will bring some
      practical knowledge to issues like heath care reform.

      Rep. Barbara Cubin, also from Casper, said she looked
      forward to working with Barrasso in Washington.

      "John has served Natrona County well in the state
      Senate and will take that excellent work ethic to the
      floor of the U.S. Senate," Cubin said.