LARAMIE -- Community and environmental justice advocate Mayana “Yana” Ludwig announced her intent to run for U.S. Senate on the Democratic ticket on Friday, June 14 at a gathering of friends and supporters at Washington Park in Laramie.

On May 4, Wyoming Sen. Mike Enzi said he will not run for a fifth term next year. Gale McGee was the last Democrat to represent Wyoming in the Senate. He retired in 1976.

“I’m running on a platform that is focused on climate disruption, economic insecurity and how we can solve that, healthcare, and human rights,” Ludwig said. “I’m excited to get out there and actually see how progressive Wyoming is willing to go.”

If elected, Ludwig said she would be “the first woman and first queer person” elected to the U.S. Senate from Wyoming. Ludwig has 30 years of experience working in the nonprofit sector, mostly with environmental, intentional community, and economic and racial justice organization.

Ludwig, 49, is a bisexual woman married to Matt Stannard, the former debate coach at the University of Wyoming and a UW law school graduate. Between them, they have seven children, four who are in Wyoming’s public school system.

“One of the reasons why we’re starting really early with the campaign is that I think there is a big component of public education about, ‘What is socialism?’ and the fact that there are really different ways to do socialism. I think people have this image of like, government overreach, and being way too much in people’s lives, and controlling everything. That’s kind of the equivalent of the major corporation/capitalism stuff. There’s a lot of locally, state-based ways to actually set up socialism,” Ludwig said.

“I think that’s my orientation, and I think there’s a whole lot of people in Wyoming oriented, too. They want local control. They want to be bringing the power home. I’m going to see how much we can connect around that part of it.

“I also think that income insecurity is huge. Young people don’t have a problem with socialism, and there’s a lot of young people who don’t typically vote. So I think the campaign is going to be a combination of connecting with people in ways they are not used to being connected to – connecting with people who aren’t used to being connected with, and actually getting in there and starting to ‘unpack’ the ‘S’-word. So here we go!”

Among other issues the campaign says are motivating Ludwig’s run, Wyoming’s steadily decreasing population looms large. Ludwig ties this to both economics and healthcare.

“Wyoming has been steadily losing people, and the issues I hear people talking about on their way out the door include lack of access to mental health services, few job opportunities (especially for young people) and a general sense of being unwelcome if you are different. I believe Wyoming is ready to be part of some deep conversations about how we can actively shape needed changes in our communities.”

“If I go, I’m going to be one Senator of 100-and-some. Being able to bring awareness of what’s happening in Wyoming for more people than just wealthy people. I think that’s what’s getting to Washington right now - instead of the perspective of wealthy Wyomingites, getting more awareness about issues, like awareness about murdered and indigenous women, a big topic in Wyoming right now. We have some real issues here. I lost a really dear friend last year who couldn’t get mental health coverage in Wyoming, left the state, and ended up committing suicide. It was absolutely heartbreaking. One of the things I want to bring back is healthcare on a really fundamental level.”

The campaign is currently scheduling events for a state-wide listening tour during the summer and fall of 2019. Visit www.Yana4Wyo.com, email campaign@Yana4Wyo.com, or contact Campaign Manager KC Vernon for more information.