SHERIDAN — Just one of Sheridan County’s 15 delegates to the Wyoming Republican Party Convention voted in favor of a censure resolution that would have left Gov. Matt Mead with a significant scar heading into the 2014 election.
“I think that as the most powerful Republican in the state, he should have put a stop to Senate File 104,” Bo Biteman of Ranchester said. “It was nothing personal against the governor, but if they had enough evidence of wrongdoing they should have impeached her and removed her from office. They went about it all wrong.”
Biteman added that many of the Republicans in Sheridan County with which he spoke indicated they were strongly against SF104, which stripped Superintendent of Public Instruction Cindy Hill of her powers before the Wyoming Supreme Court struck the legislation down as unconstitutional.
Sheridan County Chair of the Republican Party Jesus Rios said he was disappointed to see the censure resolution presented to the entire body of delegates at the convention, primarily because Mead is a Republican candidate running for office this year.
“It was pretty unfortunate, I think,” Rios said. “The language was really written to be a personal attack. It questioned his integrity and his honesty.”
The language of the resolution was blistering in its condemnation of Mead. “Only in times of egregious betrayal is it necessary to publicly censure one of our leaders,” it stated. “Today, we are faced with such a betrayal.”
Rios added that he felt the resolution was a political move on behalf of Republican delegates who maybe support Hill’s candidacy for governor.
Biteman agreed that the language was harsh, but in the end he felt the governor was wrong.
The resolution failed Saturday by a vote of 145 against, 132 in favor. Mead wasn’t present when delegates voted one-by-one on the censure motion early Saturday evening. He provided a statement after the vote through his campaign staff saying he appreciated the 145 people who voted against the resolution.
The delegates rejected an amendment to the censure motion proposed by Sen. Bruce Burns, R-Sheridan. He called for removing language that claimed Mead had delayed restoring the Education Department after the Supreme Court’s ruling.
In fact, the law had remained in effect after the Supreme Court’s order for several months. Mead, meanwhile, had expressed frustration that Hill refused to accept offers from the Wyoming Attorney General’s Office to return to work while the legal case was still pending.
David Robb, a delegate from Platte County, had drafted the resolution against Mead.
Speaking after the vote, Robb said he believes Mead’s actions will still cost him support this year. Robb said he had campaigned for Mead in his first campaign.
“We have the head of our party, and the governor of our state who doesn’t think that law applies to him,” Robb said. “We passed resolutions two years ago and four years ago against common core standards in this state. He’s the one that has pushed them through.
“He took the votes of the majority of people in this state who voted for the superintendent of public instruction and negated those completely,” Robb said of Mead.
Hill, in her address to delegates, emphasized that she fought back after Mead signed the education reform measure.
“People are taking notice of government, not because it’s doing such wonderful things, but because the hard working men and women of Wyoming have seen that government is taking greater and greater control over democracy,” Hill said. “When did our party become the party of big government?”
Hill promised, if elected, to defend the rights of the people. “The current governor took your vote, and now he wants to have your vote,” she said.
Cheyenne rancher and retired physician Taylor Haynes also asked delegates for their support.
“I will unleash our natural resources, you’re going to see the private sector explode,” Haynes said. “As governor, I’m not going to create jobs. When the governor creates jobs, he creates taxes. I’m going to allow the private sector to create jobs by improving our regulatory climate.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.