CHEYENNE — Gov. Matt Mead said he doesn’t intend to announce his 2014 political plans until after the Wyoming Legislature’s budget session ends in March.
Mead, who began his first term in January 2011, said he doesn’t like long campaigns and is committed to working the current four full years he was elected to serve.
His situation is in stark contrast to that of Wyoming senior U.S. Sen. Mike Enzi, who always says he doesn’t like long campaigns too. But Enzi is in one, nonetheless, with the entry of Liz Cheney, the eldest daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, in the Republican primary election a year from now.
Mead said his decision on whether to seek a second term will involve his family. He and his wife, Carol, have two children, Mary, 15, and Pete, 13.
“I’ve never got the balance right on the job and the family. My wife makes me aware of that and we’re trying to find solutions to that,” Mead said.
Mead said that, at this point, he can’t envision how a governor can campaign for re-election and fulfill the job duties at the same time.
He said if he does run, he realizes he can’t log 100,000 miles on his car, as he did while campaigning in 2010.
With 16 months remaining in his first term, the 51-year-old Republican has made inroads on most of the agenda items he identified in his first State of the State address to the Legislature in 2011.
The issues ranged from Internet connectivity to infrastructure to stream-
His agenda for the remaining 16 months of his term includes requests for money to finish the unified network on connectivity. It will be costly but is important for education and medium and small businesses, the governor said.
“I will keep pressing the advantage we have in Wyoming for tech companies. We have minerals, tourism and ag. I want it to be on our lips and minds that number four should be technology and connectivity,” he said.
Mead said he also will make a substantial request to the Legislature before the upcoming session for local funding for infrastructure.
“I still feel that with economic development, if you don’t have infrastructure needs met, you’re wasting your time and money,” he said.
One area that needs more work
is education, he said. Wyoming is among the leading states in spending on public education but the results are lagging.
“The frustration is we just haven’t found the right keys yet,” Mead said.
Mead said the fallout from Senate File 104, which stripped state Superintendent of Public Instruction Cindy Hill of much of her administrative duties, has made efforts to improve education more difficult. The bill signed into law by Mead created a director of the Wyoming Department of Education, who is appointed by the governor.
Hill has filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the new law. Her case is scheduled to go before the Wyoming Supreme Court later this month.
Additionally, a special legislative investigative committee headed by state House Speaker Tom Lubnau, R-Gillette, is probing an inquiry into allegations of misuse of funds, among other items, in the education department under Hill’s watch.
Mead said he was disappointed in the amount of time spent on the bill and associated allegations against Hill.
“I’m sure the superintendent and the Legislature share that disappointment. It just goes on and on and on,” Mead said.
Meanwhile, Hill has said she plans to run for the GOP nomination for governor next year.
Mead said one of the surprises of the job is the time spent dealing with federal-state issues, whether it be grizzly bear delisting, hydraulic fracturing testing and regulation or regional haze regulations.
“I work as well as I can with the federal government, but when I see what they are trying to do with regional haze, it just angers me,” he said.
Mead has testified that the federal Environmental Protection Agency rule on regional haze is one more tool designed to kill the coal industry.
Mead said that when he gets angry, he recalls advice from his parents and his grandfather, the late Gov. and Sen. Cliff Hansen, to stop for a moment before you speak.
“I do, privately, pound the table occasionally,” Mead said.