SHERIDAN — U.S. Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., announced Saturday at a news conference in his hometown of Gillette that he does not plan to run for reelection in 2020.
With Enzi’s departure, Wyoming will have its first open seat for the U.S. Senate in more than a decade. U.S. Sen. John Barrasso was appointed to replace Craig Thomas, who died in office, in 2007.
Enzi, 75, has served Wyoming at the federal level for more than 22 years.
“During my life I’ve followed my Mom’s advice, my core values: Do what’s right. Do your best. Treat others as they want to be treated,” Enzi said. “I can’t do the kind of job Diana and I have been doing for another six-year term.
“I was able to see my kids grow up before I went in the Senate,” he continued. “Now I want some grandkid time. I will continue to be the workhorse for Wyoming that you expect me to be through this term.”
Enzi said he still has things he’d like to accomplish before leaving the Senate. He’d like to focus on budget reform, the national debt, small business initiatives and protecting and diversifying Wyoming’s economy.
Enzi was sworn in as Wyoming’s 20th U.S. senator in 1997. He is the chairman of the Budget Committee and a member of the Finance Committee, Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee and the Joint Committee on Taxation.
Enzi’s congressional colleagues paid tribute to the longtime senators service.
“For more than four decades, Mike Enzi has devoted himself to serving our state and the country,” said U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney, who is one of the people rumored to be considering a run for what will be an open Senate seat. “He never forgot where he came from and always put the interests of Wyoming first, constantly championing our Western way of life.”
Cheney in 2013 announced plans to challenge Enzi in a primary race, but later dropped out of the race.
Barrasso echoed praise for Enzi.
“Mike Enzi’s character, courage and credibility have made him a respected moral leader in the U.S. Senate,” Barrasso said. “In four terms in the Senate he has never wavered in his commitment to God, family or Wyoming.
“The Senate and Wyoming will miss the valued leadership of the trusted trail boss of our congressional delegation,” Barrasso continued.
Enzi started his political career in Gillette, where he served two four-year terms as mayor beginning in 1975. He then served three terms as a state representative beginning in 1987 before switching to a state senate seat from 1991-1996.
Freshman state legislator Rep. Cyrus Western, R-Sheridan, worked for Enzi during his 2014 reelection campaign.
“From square one, this was a man who fought for Wyoming every single day of his tenure in elected office,” Western said in a statement on social media. “His character as a man and his conduct as a Senator was unmatched, as he delivered many times over on behalf of our great state.
“His actions reflected his words and rather than grandstanding and hogging the mic, he pulled his work boots on and worked with anyone in order to advance common sense legislation to benefit our state, and our country,” Western continued. “It was an enormous honor to work for him, as I learned so much. While I’m saddened to see him retire, I will always appreciate what he’s done for me, and for the greatest state in the greatest nation on earth.”