Matt Mead

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Matt Mead
Matt Mead.jpg
32nd Governor of Wyoming
In office
January 3, 2011 – January 7, 2019
Preceded byDave Freudenthal
Succeeded byMark Gordon
United States Attorney for the District of Wyoming
In office
October 12, 2001 – June 7, 2007
PresidentGeorge W. Bush
Preceded byDave Freudenthal
Succeeded byKelly Rankin
Personal details
Matthew Hansen Mead

(1962-03-11) March 11, 1962 (age 60)
Jackson, Wyoming, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)Carol Mead
RelativesMary Mead (mother)
Clifford Hansen (grandfather)
EducationTrinity University, Texas (BA)
University of Wyoming (JD)

Matthew Hansen Mead (born March 11, 1962) is an American attorney, businessman, and politician who served as the 32nd Governor of Wyoming from 2011 to 2019. A member of the Republican Party, he previously was the United States Attorney for the District of Wyoming from 2001 to 2007.

Early life and career[edit]

Mead, the son of Peter Bradford Mead and Mary Elisabeth Hansen Mead, was born and reared in Jackson, Wyoming. Mead graduated in 1984 with a bachelor's degree in radio/television from Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas where he was a member of the Bengal Lancer fraternity among other pursuits. He earned a J.D. degree from the University of Wyoming College of Law at Laramie. After law school, he served as a county and federal prosecutor and also practiced in a private law firm.

U.S. Attorney[edit]

In 2001, Mead was appointed United States Attorney for the District of Wyoming by President George W. Bush. He served until June 2007, when he resigned to seek the Senate seat vacated by the death of fellow Republican Craig L. Thomas.[1] His resignation was required under the Hatch Act of 1939.[2]

In accordance with Wyoming state law,[3] the Republican Party selected the three candidates from which Democratic Governor Dave Freudenthal could make his selection. On the third ballot, The Republican State Central Committee, by fourteen votes, eliminated Mead from consideration. Freudenthal chose State Senator John Barrasso; the others he considered were former State Treasurer Cynthia Lummis of Cheyenne and former Republican State Chairman and lobbyist Tom Sansonetti, who had been an aide to Thomas.[4]


2010 election[edit]

Mead visiting Guantanamo Bay detention camp in 2011

In 2010, Mead won the Republican gubernatorial primary with 30,272 votes, defeating State Auditor Rita Meyer, who polled 29,558 votes, despite Meyer's endorsement by former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin.[5] Fort Bridger rancher Ron Micheli finished third, with 27,592 votes; State House Speaker Colin M. Simpson finished fourth with 16,673 votes.[6]

With Freudenthal not running for a third term, because of term limits,[7] Mead was a heavy favorite in the general election; Wyoming is heavily Republican.

Mead's campaign emphasized his support for gun rights. He opposed gay marriage and abortion, but stated that there should be exceptions to allow an abortion when the woman's health or life is at stake and in cases of rape and incest. On November 2, 2010, Mead easily defeated Leslie Petersen, the former chairwoman of the Wyoming Democratic Party, receiving 72% of the vote to Petersen's 25%.[8]

2014 election[edit]

In late January 2013, Wyoming Superintendent of Public Instruction Cindy Hill, a Republican, announced that she would be a candidate in Wyoming's 2014 governor's race. A Tea Party favorite, Hill would face Mead in the Republican primary on August 19, 2014.[9] Earlier in January, Mead had signed legislation sharply reducing the responsibilities of Hill's office, making the position largely ceremonial.[10]

Mead named Rich Crandall, a moderate Republican member of the Arizona Senate and a political ally of former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, to fill the newly established position of director of the Wyoming Education Department, an office that had most of the powers formerly held by the Superintendent of Public Instruction. In January 2014, the Wyoming Supreme Court rebuffed Mead and declared that the legislature had overstepped its constitutional powers when it stripped Hill of most of her office duties.[11] Mead unsuccessfully appealed the decision; Hill resumed her duties in May 2014, just a few weeks before the beginning of the gubernatorial primary campaign.

Meanwhile, two Republican lawmakers who said they had no ties to Hill called for a special prosecutor to investigate Mead's conduct in the matter. Representatives Gerald Gay of Casper and Stephen Watt of Rock Springs said that Mead abused the powers of his office and used funds prior to legal authorization to discredit Hill.[12]

Gay said, "I am in possession of information and internal email correspondence that gives rise to the concern that the governor has used state monies to manufacture allegations against a political opponent. (...) The public knows an abuse of power when they see it, and this (is) one of the most egregious examples of abuse of power in Wyoming history. (...) I believe there were political motivations because of the timeline that was involved. (...) The things I have found are egregious enough that they have to be stopped immediately and to make sure they never happen again."[12]

Gay claimed that a special prosecutor was needed because he did not trust Wyoming Attorney General Peter K. Michael, a Mead appointee, to conduct a fair probe. Michael said that his office does not prosecute crimes except in rare situations, and would not in this particular matter.[12]

Mead handily won re-nomination in the 2014 Republican primary, with 53,626 votes (55 percent), compared to Dr. Taylor Haynes' 31,490 (32 percent), and Hill's 12,443 (13 percent).[13] In the November 4 general election, Mead handily defeated Pete Gosar, the former Democratic Party state chairman and the brother of a Republican U.S. representative from Arizona, Paul Gosar. In the same election, Republican Jillian Balow, backed by Mead, won election to succeed Hill as the education superintendent.[14]


On October 26, 2012, Mead named Buffalo, Wyoming, businessman and rancher Mark Gordon as the state treasurer, to succeed Joseph B. Meyer, who died in office.[15]

On February 17, 2015, Mead vetoed legislation intended to prevent the state from permanently confiscating an individual's property through civil forfeiture until after a felony conviction had been attained. The legislation, Senate File 14, gained strong popular support and passed through the Wyoming Legislature, with majorities in excess of 2/3 in both houses.[16] An attempt to override the veto failed.[17]

Personal life[edit]

Mead has an older brother, Bradford Scott "Brad" Mead, a Jackson attorney, and an older sister, Muffy Mead-Ferro of Salt Lake City, the author of Confessions of a Slacker Mom.[18]

Mead's mother, Mary, was the GOP gubernatorial nominee in 1990. Considered an expert horsewoman, she died in 1996, on her 61st birthday, in a horseback accident while working cattle in Grand Teton National Park. In 2003, Mead and his brother and sister put their family ranch in the park up for sale; the price was said to be $110 million.[19]

Mead's paternal aunt, Andrea Mead Lawrence, was an alpine ski racer who competed in three Winter Olympic Games and won two gold medals for the United States.[20]

Mead and his wife Carol have two children.[21]

Electoral history[edit]

Wyoming Gubernatorial Republican primary results. 2010
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Matt Mead 30,308 28.7
Republican Rita Meyer 29,605 28.0
Republican Ron Micheli 27,630 26.1
Republican Colin Simpson 16,722 15.8
Republican Alan Kousoulos 566 0.5
Republican Tom Ubben 432 0.4
Republican John Self 295 0.3
Republican Write-ins 202 0.2
Total votes 105,760 100
Wyoming gubernatorial election, 2010
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican Matt Mead 123,780 65.68% +35.67%
Democratic Leslie Petersen 43,240 22.94% -47.05%
Independent Taylor Haynes 13,796 7.32%
Libertarian Mike Wheeler 5,362 2.85%
Write-ins 2,285 1.21%
Majority 80,540 42.74% +2.75%
Turnout 190,822
Republican gain from Democratic Swing
Wyoming Gubernatorial Republican primary results. 2014
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Matt Mead 53,673 54.04
Republican Taylor Haynes 31,532 31.75
Republican Cindy Hill 12,464 12.55
Republican Write-in 215 0.22
Republican Over Votes 26 0.03
Republican Under Votes 1,402 1.41
Total votes 99,312 100
Wyoming gubernatorial election, 2014
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican Matt Mead 99,700 58.25 -7.43%
Democratic Pete Gosar 45,752 26.73 3.79%
Independent Don Wills 9,895 5.78
Libertarian Dee Cozzens 4,040 2.36 -0.49%
Write-in Other 8,490 4.96
Over Votes Other 62 0.04
Under Votes Other 3,214 1.88
Majority 53,948 31.52 -11.52%
Total votes 171,153 100
Republican hold Swing


  1. ^ "Mead Seeking Seat". Jackson Hole News & Guide. June 12, 2007.
  2. ^ Angus M. Thuermer Jr. (June 8, 2007). "Mead quits federal post". Jackson Hole News & Guide.
  3. ^ As permitted by the Seventeenth Amendment, Wyoming allows the Governor to select the replacement for a vacant Senate seat to hold the seat for the remainder of the unexpired term. However, also as permitted by the Seventeenth Amendment, Wyoming law requires that the replacement must be of the same political party as the predecessor.
  4. ^ "Wyoming Names Senate Replacement". CBS News. February 11, 2009. Retrieved June 1, 2013.
  5. ^ Linda Feldmann (July 30, 2010). "Sarah Palin anoints a new 'mama grizzly': Does it make a difference?".
  6. ^ "It's Mead by a Hair". Wyoming Tribune Eagle. August 18, 2010.
  7. ^ Tom Morton (January 23, 2010). "Former U.S. Attorney Mead running for Wyoming governor". Casper Star-Tribune.
  8. ^ "Wyoming: Matt Mead elected governor; Democrats win no statewide offices". USA Today. Associated Press. November 4, 2010.
  9. ^ John Celock (February 1, 2013). "Cindy Hill, Demoted Wyoming Schools Boss, Running For Governor". Retrieved June 1, 2013.
  10. ^ John Celock (February 28, 2013). "Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead Not Focused On Cindy Hill's Primary Challenge". Retrieved June 1, 2013.
  11. ^ "State asks court to reconsider Hill ruling". Wyoming Tribune-Eagle. Retrieved January 31, 2014.
  12. ^ a b c "Lawmakers call for Mead probe: Representatives say that power was abused and funds were misused in Cindy Hill investigation". Wyoming Tribune-Eagle. July 25, 2014. Retrieved July 27, 2014.
  13. ^ "Mead wins GOP primary for Wyoming governor". Wyoming Tribune-Eagle. August 19, 2014. Retrieved August 20, 2014.
  14. ^ Aaron Schrank (November 5, 2014). "Republican Jillian Balow Elected Wyoming Schools Chief". Wyoming National Public Radio. Retrieved December 11, 2014.
  15. ^ Trevor Brown. "Mead selects treasurer". Wyoming Tribune Eagle, October 27, 2012. Retrieved October 30, 2012.
  16. ^ "Governor Mead Vetoes Due Process and Property Rights". Retrieved 9 January 2018.
  17. ^ Hancock, Laura (February 27, 2015). "Veto Override on Asset Forfeiture Bill fails in Wyoming Senate". Casper Star-Tribune. Retrieved November 26, 2016.
  18. ^ Mead-Ferro, Muffy (2004). Confessions of a Slacker Mom. Da Capo Lifelong. pp. 152. ISBN 978-0-7382-0994-4.
  19. ^ Angus M. Thuermer Jr. "Mead Ranch on the Block". Jackson Hole News. Archived from the original on September 28, 2007. Retrieved October 28, 2009.
  20. ^ " Home Page". Retrieved 9 January 2018.
  21. ^ Bill McCarthy (January 23, 2010). "Mead officially running for governor". Wyoming Tribune Eagle.

External links[edit]

Party political offices
Preceded by
Ray Hunkins
Republican nominee for Governor of Wyoming
2010, 2014
Succeeded by
Political offices
Preceded by Governor of Wyoming
Succeeded by
U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded byas Former Governor Order of precedence of the United States
Within Wyoming
Succeeded byas Former Governor
Order of precedence of the United States
Outside Wyoming
Succeeded byas Former Governor