Roughly a year and a month after his landslide election, Gov. Mark Gordon has certainly been keeping busy.
After a winter spent pulling together his administration, the former Wyoming treasurer has already put his stamp on the governor’s office, focusing his attention less on landmark accomplishments and more on shaping the capital and its operations in his image.
At the same time, Gordon has been building up relationships across the state and country. According to six months of public schedules obtained by the Star-Tribune, Gordon has accepted invitations to dozens of events, from soirees as highbrow as the 2019 Alfalfa Club Banquet in Washington, D.C. last January (an event attended on the invitation of former U.S. Sen. Al Simpson, who once served as president of the hyper-exclusive club) to rodeos, pancake breakfasts and events like Basin’s annual Lilac Days festival.
Though an incomplete record of his time in office (Gordon’s public schedules often have days missing, for example, or may contain just a single phone call), the records obtained by the Star-Tribune portray a governor who values routine as well as accessibility – his calendar showing a politician who sticks to schedule and is willing to regularly connect with local leaders while, simultaneously, being unafraid to pursue a higher national profile for his office and for Wyoming.
Local officials get priority
While the nature of Wyoming’s government makes interactions with the Legislative branch a natural part of the job, Gordon – who has generally supported local control issues outside of Teton County – has shown a willingness to connect with local officials on their needs.
Gordon’s public schedules include a number meetings with state lawmakers about priorities impacting their districts. He has held meetings including individual get-togethers with the likes of Rep. Michael Greear, R-Worland and Sen. Brian Boner, R-Douglas, as well as larger meetings arranged on his travels around the state. These included meet-ups with various Campbell and Natrona County officials to discuss their woes in hiring public defenders, as well as conferences with state lawmakers arranged during visits to events like June’s Energy Exposition in Gillette.
The governor has even been willing to meet with small-town government officials as part of his duties with the State Loan and Investment Board, with calendar items showing meetings with the mayors of places like Moorcroft, Byron and Sundance as well as organizations like the Hot Springs County Hospital District.
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Elevating Wyoming’s profile
Making a strong first impression is important, and that’s something Gordon appears to have taken very seriously in year one of his administration.
Gordon made a number of trips outside Wyoming to network with officials in other states for events put on by groups like the Western Governor’s Association. He traveled to Washington D.C. in June for a working lunch with President Donald J. Trump centered on “Workforce Freedom and Mobility.” Earlier this month, the Governor also had a rare opportunity to testify on Capitol Hill on potential reforms to Section 401 of the Clean Water Act, and the role it could have in boosting Wyoming’s economy.
Additionally, Gordon has been in somewhat regular contact with governors of others states to discuss various initiatives. In June, Gordon met with Colorado Gov. Jared Polis to discuss a continuing relationship between several Rocky Mountain states to build out an electric vehicle corridor across the West. Gordon’s schedule also features meetings with the likes of Oregon Gov. Kate Brown and Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin, whose call came in late-July at the height of the Blackjewel bankruptcy hearings.
Hands-on with economic development
From a one-on-one call with Rep. Eric Barlow, R-Gillette, about the future of industrial hemp to face-to-face meetings with leaders of different sectors, Gordon is willing to play recruiter to any number of individuals with something to offer Wyoming.
Gordon’s schedules include numerous appointments with industrialists and entrepreneurs looking to make large investments in the state’s economy. He’s spoken with the usual suspects in the wind and energy sector, but also a shingle recycling business looking to move to Casper as well as the owner of a Colorado-based advertising agency, the Narrator Group, who had recently moved to Laramie and offered to do some outside consulting for the governor. (That individual, Mark Toft, had served as a consultant to several other governors, according to an online profile.)
Gordon’s calendars also include meetings on individual projects taking place in the state, including a get-together with several oil and gas representatives back in June regarding BLM land in Converse County.
At times, Gordon also granted audiences to special interest groups, including the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, the free-market based environmental solutions group known as The Western Way, a number of retirement groups, and GOP megadonor Susan Gore, the founder of the Wyoming Liberty Group.