CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — Republican former Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead said Thursday he will not run for an open U.S. Senate seat but two nationally known and well-funded Republicans, Liz Cheney and Foster Friess, weren’t ruling it out.
Republican U.S. Sen. Mike Enzi plans to retire after four terms, setting up a 2020 primary race that will likely decide his successor in Republican-dominated Wyoming. Wyoming holds its Republican and Democratic primaries Aug. 18.
Cheney declined to hint about her plans in a telephone news conference Thursday but said she would announce her decision sometime in early 2020.
“There are obviously a number of issues to talk about and I plan to do that over the next several weeks with my family,” said Cheney, 53.
The elder daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, Liz Cheney has risen to the House GOP’s third-highest leadership position since her election as Wyoming’s lone congresswoman in 2016.
Friess, 79, a multimillionaire investor and national GOP donor who finished second in a six-way Republican gubernatorial primary in 2018, also was keeping his options open.
“Last time around, we entered the race with 119 days to go — so it wouldn’t surprise anyone if my decision comes later,” Friess, who lives in Jackson Hole, wrote in an email Thursday.
He finished strong despite starting out with 1% name recognition in 22 of Wyoming’s 23 counties, “even lower than no-fat milk,” Friess wrote.
He added: “Stay tuned.”
So far, only one well-known candidate is running to replace Enzi: Republican former U.S. Rep. Cynthia Lummis, who announced her campaign in July.
Lummis, 65, served 14 years as a state legislator, eight as state treasurer and eight as Wyoming’s congresswoman. Her departure from Congress in 2017 to attend to family business matters in Wyoming following her husband’s death in 2014 cleared a path for Cheney’s election.
“I want to go back, I’m ready to go back. I’m really motivated,” Lummis, who comes from a well-known ranching family in the Cheyenne area, told The Associated Press in an interview Tuesday.
Mead, who served two terms as governor, was succeeded earlier this year by former State Treasurer Mark Gordon, who beat Friess 33% to 25% in last year’s primary.
Mead previously was U.S. attorney for Wyoming and his grandfather, Republican Clifford Hansen, served one term as Wyoming’s governor and two as U.S. senator in the 1960s and 1970s.
Reached by phone, Mead said he’s has been spending much of his time tending his family’s cattle ranch in southeast Wyoming.
“I just felt like I had the best political job there is out there, being governor of Wyoming. I just don’t have any interest in going to Washington, D.C., in that capacity,” said Mead, 57.
“I feel pretty content where I am now,” he added. “I don’t plan on any future political office.”
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