Saturday, October 02, 2010

Matt Mead and the Hansen conservative heritage

Matt Mead, 2010 Republican candidate for governor of Wyoming, has promoted himself as a rancher, playing to the respect and admiration we feel for the cowboy, an icon of independence, self-reliance, and resourcefulness, a symbol of the man who is able to push through hardship and hard work to provide for himself and his family.

So how well does Mead size up to this icon of independence?

Matthew Hansen Mead can claim a family tradition of political conservativism. Mead’s mother, Mary Hansen Mead, was the daughter of Clifford P. (Cliff) Hansen, one of those rare men who was almost universally respected for his great successes in defending Wyoming’s rights. Cliff’s father, Peter Arthur Hansen, did surveying and ditch work on ranches and built up the Jackson Hole ranch he and his wife homesteaded with Cliff and the other children helping every step of the way. Cliff liked to tell the story that he never tasted beef until he was a college student, not because the family didn’t like beef, but because it was a luxury. The family produced cattle, and ate wild game like elk and deer. This was a story every frugal cattleman could relate to…you don’t eat your profits.

Cliff Hansen was a true son of Wyoming, growing up and getting his early education in Jackson before heading to the University of Wyoming where he earned a degree in animal science in 1934, then back home to Jackson. From 1943 on Hansen’s life included Wyoming political service, as Teton County Commissioner (1943-1951), UW Trustee (1946-1966), Governor (1963-1967) and U.S. Senator (1967-1978). At the same time he was President of the Wyoming Stockgrowers Association (1953-1955) and a member of American National Cattlemen’s Association. This was a man who stayed in the middle of things, getting things done.

Hansen worked for all the people of Wyoming. Governor Cliff Hansen drove an expansion of highways and reservoirs in Wyoming, critical to our way of life. Senator Hansen, with Louisiana’s Sen. Huey Long Jr, won the battle to turn the flow of Wyoming’s public mineral oil royalties to Cheyenne rather than the U.S. Treasury. Hansen was involved in amending the Surface Mining Act, assuring that private land owners are compensated when minerals are extracted below the surface. He drove a change in national legislation to make the state’s share of public mineral royalties to 50%, up from 37.5%. He demonstrated selflessness for sake of Wyoming when he resigned his Senate seat three days early to allow his successor, Alan Kooi Simpson, to assume the seat, giving Simpson seniority in the U.S. Senate which stood to Wyoming’s advantage.

Given this man stood at the head of Mead’s family, leading by example, you would expect Matt to be a natural conservative.

Check the articles "What Heritage is Matt Mead Carrying Forward?" and "A Progressive Heritage - Not Constitutionally Based" for the answer.

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