- Associated Press - Tuesday, August 2, 2016

CASPER, Wyo. (AP) - The Latest on debates among Republican and Democratic candidates for Wyoming’s seat in the U.S. House (all times local):

8:02 p.m.

Republicans running for Wyoming’s U.S. House seat are striking an optimistic tone about the future of Wyoming’s coal industry, saying the federal government just needs to get out of the way.

Moderators of a debate Tuesday in Casper asked what the federal government should do to retrain the 500 coal miners recently laid off in Wyoming.

Cheyenne attorney Darin Smith says Wyoming isn’t going to need fewer coal miners, it will need more. He says the key is opening up Pacific Northwest ports to export coal overseas.

Liz Cheney and state Rep. Tim Stubson also say the federal government’s role isn’t to retrain coal workers but to make sure the industry survives.

State Sen. Leland Christensen says the federal government can simplify and streamline how it awards job-training funds.

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6:35 p.m.

Three Republican candidates for Wyoming’s U.S. House seat have different ideas about how Congress can improve Wyoming’s economy.

Tough times for the coal, oil and natural gas industries have dealt a blow to Wyoming. Candidate Mike Konsmo says Wyoming needs to keep working to open up Pacific Northwest ports to export coal overseas.

Jason Senteney said in a debate Tuesday in Casper he doubts those ports will ever get approval. He suggests new approaches, such as exporting coal through Alaska.

Candidate Paul Paad (PAD) says he wants more coal exports but thinks too much regulation is the industry’s real problem.

Konsmo is an English instructor at Northwest College. Senteney is a corrections officer in Torrington and Paad is safety and personnel director at a Casper trucking company.

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4:00 p.m.

The two Democrats running for Wyoming’s seat in the U.S. House both want to raise the federal minimum wage but disagree on how much.

Retired Roman Catholic priest Charlie Hardy and Rock Springs energy industry manager Ryan Greene debated Tuesday in Casper.

Hardy says the federal minimum wage needs to increase from $7.25 to $15 an hour. He says $18 is barely enough for a family in Cheyenne to get by.

Greene says $10 an hour would be a good point to begin talking about a higher minimum wage. He says $15 would double the payroll for some businesses.

Hardy pointed to his years of ministering to impoverished people in Latin America as a key qualification. Greene says he’s been a roustabout and held many other jobs in his family’s business.

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4:00 a.m.

Republican and Democratic candidates for Wyoming’s seat in the U.S. House will take part in the biggest debates of Wyoming’s primary season Tuesday.

Republican candidates Liz Cheney, Leland Christensen, Darin Smith and Tim Stubson will debate at 7 p.m. Republicans Heath Beaudry, Mike Konsmo, Paul Paad and Jason Senteney debate at 5:30 p.m.

Former Gov. Jim Geringer will moderate the Republican debates.

A debate between Democratic candidates Ryan Greene and Charlie Hardy happens at 3 p.m. Former Gov. Mike Sullivan will moderate.

The candidates seek to replace Rep. Cynthia Lummis, who’s not seeking a fifth term.

The debates two weeks before the Wyoming primary will be free of charge and happen at Wheeler Concert Hall at Casper College. They will be broadcast by PBS and livestreamed at https://trib.com .

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