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Mead narrowly escapes censure at GOP convention

Posted: Tuesday, May 6th, 2014

Gov. Matt Mead was on the hot seat during the Wyoming State Republican Convention, held last weekend in Evanston, where, in a 132-145 vote, delegates chose not to censure the governor for signing 2013 Senate File 104, which stripped Cindy Hill of most of her authority and was later ruled unconstitutional by the Wyoming Supreme Court. (COURTESY PHOTO)

By Deborah Demander

Herald Reporter

EVANSTON — The city of Evanston was abuzz last week as more than 500 delegates, alternates, politicians and campaign managers along with handfuls of family members and dedicated Wyoming Republicans converged at the Roundhouse and Evanston High School for the 2014 State Republican Convention.

The hot topic of discussion coming out of Friday’s committee work was the possible censure of Gov. Matt Mead. The Resolutions Committee, consisting of one delegate from each Wyoming county, overwhelmingly approved the censure resolution, which sent it to delegates to vote on Saturday. In a very close vote, 132-145, the resolution to censure Mead did not pass, although 10 of Uinta County’s 13 delegates voted in favor of censuring the governor.

Before addressing the crowd, Mead was asked by the Herald if he was concerned about the censure vote, Mead said he was concerned, but hopeful that the resolution would not pass.

Late in the day, after speeches were given and politicians had spoken, the censure vote was taken.

According to State Committee member Karl Allred, the Resolutions Committee overwhelmingly supported the censure of Governor Mead.

“The censure vote was the first resolution. It only failed by 13 votes,” Allred told the Herald. “There were a lot of delay tactics and they were trying to keep any of the resolutions from coming to the floor. They used a lot of procedural maneuvers. It was pretty late when we got to the censure resolution, and then they made it a role call vote.

“I think that changed a lot of votes,” Allred said. “If it had been a ballot vote, it would have ended differently.”

State Committee member Jana Williams agreed.

“Those who were for it (the censure resolution) were expecting a lot worse in terms of keeping it from coming to the floor,” Williams said. “The Uinta County delegates were not happy with the shenanigans. They wanted the resolution brought to the floor. They raised some questions about what constituted a quorum, whether the 350 delegates who were supposed to come versus the number of delegates who actually came [was an issue]. We were afraid there would be a walkout, and we couldn’t have conducted any business.

“I wasn’t happy when they announced a role call vote. I know for a fact there were several people who changed their vote because of that,” Williams said.

Uinta County Republican Chair Lisa Eyre said, “I think the censure resolution showed that there are a lot of people in Wyoming who aren’t happy with the way Mead handled Cindy Hill. It didn’t pass, but it was close.”

State Central Committee member Bonnie Foster, from Natrona County, said from the state level, the convention went well, although state party leaders had some reservations going into the convention.

“We did have some reservations going in, especially going in on Saturday,” Foster said. “As it came out on Saturday, I think things went well. I’m glad that we had civility. We were a little concerned. There was a lot of extra security, especially on Saturday. Some of those who were wearing delegate identification were actually security.

“Before the convention, we had someone comment on Facebook that something would happen. And before the Governor spoke, someone said they would throw a shoe at him. Things like that get said and pretty soon, people are getting into trouble,” Foster said.

When asked about the censure resolution, Foster said, “I’m elated that it got defeated. Censure does nothing but create divisiveness. The only time it’s effective is when it’s handed down by law. Censuring is an old political tactic that hasn’t been used until recently. It wouldn’t have done anything but prevent the governor from commenting or talking about SF-104 (2013 Senate File 104, also known as the Hill bill).”

Twelve Sweetwater County delegates voted against the censure and four voted in favor. In Lincoln County, the vote was split with six delegates opposing censure and seven in favor.

Prior to discussion of the possible censure, federal and state officials kicked off the convention. Sen. John Barrasso roused the crowd with a politically-charged speech.

“The future is here to shape,” Barrasso told the room of delegates. “The problem right now in America is our friends don’t trust us and our enemies don’t fear us.” Barrasso went on to quote former Pres. Ronald Reagan, “The constitution was not written to protect the government from the people, but to protect the people from the government.”

In his introduction of Sen. Mike Enzi, Barrasso told delegates that the way to shape the future is to select leaders who will uphold Republican ideals.

During his speech, Enzi said, “The only time Republicans win is when we’re unified after the primary. Unity is important. It makes a difference.”

Wyoming Secretary of State Max Maxfield, who announced he will not be seeking a third term, told delegates that one person can make a difference in Wyoming. “You have to go beyond the surface and find out what people need,” Maxfield said.

Overall, committee members said they received positive feedback about the facilities in Evanston, including the Roundhouse and many delegates commented on the cleanliness of the town.

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