By Bill Sniffin
So just how good a governor are you to be ranked the number-one governor in America for popularity?
Based on the large crowd that gathered Friday, June 8 in Cheyenne, Gov. Matt Mead and First Lady Carol Mead are loved.
The event was organized to recognize the Meads for the last seven and a half years of service. He will depart office on Dec. 31.
The star-studded night included speeches by U.S. Senators Mike Enzi and John Barrasso and Dr. Laurie Nichols, president of the University of Wyoming.
Enzi talked about how “honorable” Mead is and has been during the past seven and half years. Among his comments were:
“When Matt was running for governor, he said Wyoming needed to be proactive to fend off federal regulations. I’m not sure he knew how much he’d be doing between 2011 and 2018, but he has been a valuable partner to the Wyoming Congressional delegation in that fight.
“We’ve stood shoulder to shoulder since he was sworn in as Wyoming’s 32nd Governor to fight the Clean Power Plan; the Stream Protection Rule; the moratorium on coal leases on federal lands; and the rest of President Obama’s War on Coal. The Governor has made a lasting emphasis with lawsuits challenging the War on Coal, and with President Trump in office, we’ve had some success in that effort. Miners are starting to mine again!
“Matt, as residents of the Powder River Basin, Diana and I thank you for fighting for coal. But it’s not just the coal industry you’ve helped. The oil and gas industry is appreciative of your leadership on sage grouse management that helped keep the bird from being listed as endangered. Your advocacy for Wyoming’s existing hydraulic fracturing standards was also crucial in getting President Trump to repeal the Bureau of Land Management’s fracking rule.
“And Matt’s successes don’t stop there. His voice was critical in delisting the grizzly bear in Yellowstone and continuing the black-footed ferret’s recovery. I’ve enjoyed working with him on the annual GRO-Biz Conference, which helps Wyoming companies to do business with the federal government. We couldn’t have opened Wyoming’s first Job Corps Center in 2015 without Matt’s help.
“Matt also created the ENDOW Initiative to diversify Wyoming’s economy after revenues from oil, gas and coal slid to the point that budget cuts were necessary. His quiet leadership and effective explanations are unmatched.”
Sen. Barrasso listed other accomplishments by Gov. Mead but listed what he called “the great eight” as worthy of highlighting. These are honors bestowed on Wyoming during Mead’s two terms:
2011 – 2018 – Wyoming named best state business climate.
2011 – Wyoming named best-run state.
2012 – Wyoming named the state with the most cost-effective state highway system.
2015-2016 – Wyoming named best state for retirement.
2016 – Wyoming named best state in which to start a business.
2017 – Wyoming named best state for being most confident in the U. S economy.
2018 – Wyoming named best state for individual return on bachelor degree program.
2018 – Wyoming’s Matt Mead named most popular governor in USA.
Barrasso saved his biggest praise for Mead by telling the overflow crowd that the governor never missed a deployment of Wyoming servicemen or an opportunity to welcome them home.
“Plus he opened it up to recognizing all veterans all across Wyoming, which was long overdue,” the senator said. He said Mead even started a program to recognize new recruits.
Dr. Nichols said Mead had never-ending support for higher education. He is a huge supporter of the university, she said.
During his rebuttal, Mead said, “Thank God we live in Wyoming!” He talked about his great grandfather who served in the state senate, his grandfather who was a governor and a U. S. Senator and his mom, who ran for governor and lost.
But the loudest roar of the night came when he talked about how he thought he was shooing a kitty out from under a bush at the governor’s residence and got sprayed head-on by a skunk.
As he staggered into the house, his wife First Lady Carol ordered him “get out of this house!”
Ultimately he took off all his clothes and figured out a way to hose himself off and then went into the garage to somehow get the skunk spray off his body. “Where does a skunky governor go?” he asked.
He ended his talk by quoting a family motto about living in Wyoming. “Find one blade of grass and replace it with two,” he concluded to a long, standing ovation.