CASPER — Former U.S. Attorney Matt Mead, scion of a prominent political family, formally announced his candidacy for the Republican nomination for Wyoming governor on Friday.
“It’s the right time and the right place to take the next step,” Mead told about 50 supporters and fellow Republicans at the Three Trails Room at the Casper Events Center.
If elected in the Nov. 2 general election, he would focus his efforts on jobs and the economy, responsible use of natural resources, strong families, electronic infrastructure, gun and property rights, and education, he said.
“We must set a course and do more than react,” he said.
Mead drew on his experience as the chief prosecutor for the federal government in Wyoming beginning soon after the Sept. 11 attacks, and said the state and nation must remain vigilant. “We must never forget we were attacked.”
He aggressively prosecuted child pornography and drug trafficking, the latter including the dismantling of major methamphetamine rings on the Wind River Indian Reservation that received national recognition, he said.
The Mead family also has had ranching experience and has seen the effects of tax polices and government regulations on businesses such as his. His family — wife Carol and children Pete and Mary — was traveling Friday with him from the first press conference in Gillette to Casper and ending with a rally in Cheyenne.
The federal government shoulders much of the responsibility for the problems endured by businesses in Wyoming, such as the rising national debt and the Democratic proposals for health care reform, he said.
Mead wants to leverage Wyoming’s minerals and other natural resources, plus its strong fiscal practices, agriculture, water and open spaces, to offer America an example of leadership, he said.
“These things should serve us well in the future, as long as we don’t let Washington treat us as no more than a great big park with a big fuel pump.”
Before his announcement, Mead said Wyoming’s discipline to operate in the black gives the state a competitive edge.
The state needs to be careful with its money, but it also needs to be proactive, he said. “I don’t want to maintain the status quo.”
“We’re in competition with other states for jobs for the economy, for tourism, all those sorts of things,” he said. “And as I see Wyoming, I don’t think any other state has a greater combination in what we do, including our water resources, which are going to be important to protect in the future.”
Mead faces three candidates so far for the Republican nomination at the Aug. 17 primary. They are state Auditor Rita Meyer, who announced her bid last week; former state Rep. Ron Micheli of Fort Bridger; and current House Speaker Colin Simpson of Cody, who have formed exploratory committees, according to the Wyoming secretary of state’s Web site.
No Democrats have formed exploratory committees or announced. Democratic Gov. Dave Freudenthal still has the ongoing committee he formed in November 2001 in anticipation of his 2002 campaign, according to the secretary of state.
Freudenthal has not announced whether he will seek a third term, which would require a successful legal challenge to the term limits law.
The grandson of the late Gov. and two-term U.S. Sen. Cliff Hansen, Mead grew up in the family’s ranch near Jackson, earned an undergraduate degree from Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas, and a law degree from the University of Wyoming College of Law.
He was an assistant U.S. attorney in Cheyenne from 1990 to 1993, until family issues forced him to return to the ranch, where he served as a special assistant to the U.S. attorney’s office.
In 1996, Mead moved back to Cheyenne, where he practiced civil law.
In June 2007, Mead resigned from the U.S. attorney’s office after the death of U.S. Sen. Craig Thomas. Mead came in fourth among 26 Republicans seeking that open seat, but only the top three finalists were eligible for the post.
Contact Tom Morton at firstname.lastname@example.org or 307-266-0592.