AP NEWS

Neal mulls House run against Cheney

December 22, 2017 GMT

Though Rep. Liz Cheney is only one year into her term as Wyoming’s sole member of the U.S. House of Representatives, she may have a challenger in 2018.

Mary Neal is an orthopedic surgeon who lives in Jackson and has written two best-selling books, “To Heaven and Back” and “7 Lessons From Heaven,” in which she chronicles her near-death experience during a kayaking accident in South America. She told the Jackson Hole Daily she is considering a congressional run because, in her estimation, “the GOP has entirely lost touch with people in Wyoming, especially when it comes to health care.”

Neal thinks basic, quality health care is a human right and that the Affordable Care Act needs to be amended, not repealed.

Though the main focus of her campaign would be health care reform, she also spoke passionately about education.

“We need federal support to maintain the high level of education that we have enjoyed in the past in Wyoming,” she said. “Education is the pathway toward a better future for all of us, as it is only through education that people get good jobs and can hope to understand our world right now.”

As a moderate Democrat, Neal will have a difficult road should she decide to run, considering she’ll face a candidate with strong name recognition in Wyoming and whose voting record adheres to Wyomingites’ strongest-held values, particularly when it comes to repealing Obama-era regulations.

In the 2016 election, Cheney defeated Democrat Ryan Greene by 80,000 votes, securing 62 percent of the electorate.

“I know [Cheney’s] family; I know her personally, and there are many things I respect, but I disagree with a lot of her policies,” Neal said. “Name recognition does not make up for that fact people don’t have health care coverage and are hurting. Name recognition doesn’t matter when it’s not translating to a better life for people in this state.”

Though Neal has no political experience, she plans to campaign as an outsider who won’t toe the Democratic party line and will bring fresh ideas to Congress without perpetuating the country’s ever-widening political divide.

“Political experience is not always a benefit,” she said. “I think the problem right now is that without term limits, the people who have a great deal of experience are experienced in being ineffective. I have a great deal of experience being effective in the private sector.”

Neal is still mulling the decision to run, but said that when she nearly died kayaking in South America, she had a deeply religious experience in which she said she went to heaven. As such, her spirituality will be a driving force behind her decision.

“I will do what I feel that I’m called to do,” she said. “I feel that when we see a problem, and I see politics as a problem, it is each of our responsibility to fix the problem.”