- Associated Press - Wednesday, July 16, 2014

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - A Cheyenne doctor and rancher running as a Republican for Wyoming’s governor has staked out positions further right than any other major candidate this year by claiming federal agencies have no authority in the state and federal judges have no power to say otherwise.

Taylor Haynes says that if he’s elected, he’ll tell federal bureaucrats to stop administering federal laws in the state or risk jail. Observers say his positions are extreme for a conservative state like Wyoming and make him a longshot in the race.

That hasn’t stopped Haynes, who has a snappy response when asked how he would deal with federal bureaucrats.

“Jail food,” he said, adding he’d ask county sheriffs to arrest federal employees who don’t accede to state authority.

Never mind that Republican Gov. Matt Mead, who’s seeking re-election, is a former federal prosecutor. Or that, in Mead’s view, the state can’t pick and choose which federal agencies it wants to cooperate with.

“Are you going to tell the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) you don’t want them monitoring airplane traffic?” Mead said.

Haynes even went so far as to tell the Casper Star-Tribune that he would claim federal lands for the state and open up Yellowstone National Park to drilling, mining and grazing. The Star-Tribune published his remarks on Sunday.

But is Haynes serious?

On Tuesday, Haynes said in a debate with Mead at Casper College that he made the Yellowstone remark to draw attention to himself and doesn’t really intend to allow drilling there. Mead shot back that it was a poor way to get attention.

Mead faces a contested Aug. 19 primary after drawing criticism from numerous Republicans for signing a bill last year that stripped State Superintendent of Public Instruction Cindy Hill - who won statewide election to her office - of most of her power. The Wyoming Supreme Court recently overturned the law.

Four years ago, Mead eked out a primary win with 28.3 percent of the vote in a field of six candidates. This year, Mead faces Haynes and Hill, who declined invitations to Tuesday’s debate.

Haynes, a retired urologist who has served on the University of Wyoming Board of Trustees, is clearly the most conservative of the three. He has a mechanical engineering degree from Southern University and attended medical school at the University of Utah before moving to Wyoming.

Echoing an on-again, off-again “Sheriffs First” movement nationwide, he maintains that elected county sheriffs are the highest-ranking law enforcement officers in Wyoming. U.S. Marshals don’t have authority to make arrests outside of federal buildings, in his view.

Asked whether he believes federal judges would disagree with that interpretation, Haynes told The Associated Press in a recent interview that he didn’t care.

“They’re judges; they’re not elected,” Haynes said. “They have no legislative power. They have no power of law enforcement. They are there to give an opinion, period, and I will hold them to that.”

“The purpose of the federal government is to pay the national debts, national defense, and make sure interstate commerce flows freely, not to micromanage commercial activity. So that’s where we’re going,” Haynes said.

University of Wyoming law school professor Stephen Feldman, who specializes in constitutional law, said it’s clear to him that state officials have no such authority. The U.S. Constitution’s Supremacy Clause generally states federal law trumps state law, Feldman said.

Haynes ran as an independent write-in candidate for governor in 2010 and got 13,796 votes, or 7.3 percent. Mead coasted to victory with 65.5 percent while Democrat Leslie Petersen got 23 percent.

Pete Gosar, a state Board of Education member and former chairman of the Wyoming Democratic Party, is the lone Democrat running for governor this year.

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