- Associated Press - Thursday, August 14, 2014

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - If you didn’t know Dr. Taylor Haynes is running for governor of Wyoming, you might easily mistake him for a cowboy preacher.

With his signature hat, vest and boots, Haynes peppers his speech with frequent references to God. And he delivers campaign remarks with the natural preacher’s dignified, intense air of certainty.

If elected governor, Haynes, 68, says he intends to call on Wyoming citizens to join him in occasional days of prayer and fasting to seek divine intervention to help the nation through its problems.

“We come from that strong Judeo-Christian ethic - that’s who we are,” Haynes told a crowd in Riverton in May, drawing applause. “And despite what Barack Obama said, we are a Christian people.”

Obama has said the United States doesn’t consider itself a nation of any one religion, but rather a nation of citizens bound by ideals and common values.

Haynes continued with his speech: “And so despite all of my education, all my experience in business, I’m going to cheat. I’m going to invoke divine providence as governor, and as a candidate, to deliver us through these trials that we’re facing, and to roll back the evil that’s trying to overtake us.”

In a recent interview, Haynes said that, if elected, he wouldn’t increase the role of organized religion in state government. Yet, he’s crystal clear where he stands personally.

“There’s only one God, the creator of all things visible and invisible,” he said. “Basically, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. That’s the one God.”

Haynes said he’s running for governor as a Republican to restore Christian values and a constitutional approach to government to the state. He finished third as a write-in candidate in 2010 behind Gov. Matt Mead, a Republican now seeking re-election, and Democratic candidate Leslie Petersen. Haynes received about 7 percent of the vote that year.

Raised on a farm in Louisiana, Haynes put himself through college as a laborer and worked as an engineer before heading to medical school. He came to Cheyenne in the early 1980s and started a practice in urology.

Dr. Harlan Ribnik, a Cheyenne anesthesiologist, visited with Haynes at a recent block party in Cheyenne. Ribnik said he started working with Haynes in the operating room about 25 years ago.

“It’s fair to say that Dr. Haynes is one of the most moral and ethical men I’ve ever known,” Ribnik said. “He has a very strong backbone, if you will, and I think he operates from very strict principals. He’s honest, and gosh, I’d trust him with my wallet, my wife or my life.”

Now retired from medicine, Haynes operates a cattle ranch in Albany County and owns a medical benefits consulting company. He has served on the board of trustees for the University of Wyoming and has been active with the Wyoming Stock Growers Association and other agricultural organizations.

Haynes has campaigned hard across Wyoming, and judging from signs popping up in front yards and hay fields in far-flung corners of the state, he’s getting traction with Republicans willing to consider a change from Mead.

Haynes’ other main focus is driving the federal government out of Wyoming and making county sheriffs the law of the land.

“Tell the EPA to stand down, or eat jail food. That’s all it takes,” he said, insisting Wyoming’s economy would roar to life without federal regulation.

That position draws plenty of criticism. Cheyenne lawyer Pat Crank, a former state attorney general, called Haynes’ statements “preposterous.” Crank said that it would be unconstitutional for the state to try to expel federal authorities.

Haynes said he would sign a bill to outlaw abortion if the Legislature ever sent him one. And he opposes efforts to recognize same-sex marriages.

“I’m pretty easy to figure out if you study the Constitution, you can almost guess what my answers and my rules are going to be,” Haynes said. “And the God-fearing Christian aspect is really how you enforce the Constitution, because it stems from the Bible.”

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