He was the head cowboy: Washington lawmakers remember Sen. Mike Enzi

Published: Jul. 27, 2021 at 6:07 PM EDT
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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - Wyoming’s congressional delegation is mourning the loss of former U.S. Senator Mike Enzi, who passed at age 77.

A Twitter account associated with his former office confirmed the news early Tuesday morning. This came hours after the account posted that Enzi had to be airlifted to a Colorado hospital following a bike accident near his home in Gillette.

The longtime Wyoming senator retired earlier this year after more than two decades in Washington and more than four decades in public service.

Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) said, “We used to always think of ourselves as he was the head cowboy…He was the stagecoach driver, and I rode shotgun.”

Enzi’s political career started in 1974 as mayor of Gillette. He then served in both of Wyoming’s state chambers. He won election to the U.S. Senate in 1997 and held the seat until he retired early this year.

In a December 2020 interview with the Gray Television Washington News Bureau, Enzi spoke about his excitement for retirement, saying, “I’m actually very excited about being back in Wyoming permanently.”

Tuesday, Barrasso said, “He was really a moral compass in the Senate as the leader of the Senate prayer breakfast. He was a guy beloved in Washington and beloved at home in Wyoming. That doesn’t happen that much these days.”

Sen. Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.) said, “He was a quintessential Wyoming person with high priorities. He prioritized God, his family, he was an avid Eagle Scout proponent, and his country.

Condolences to the Enzi family from Republican leaders and Democratic colleagues flooded social media sites with many senators sharing personal stories. Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) said he and his fellow senators are stunned.

“I think what you’re going to find throughout the United States Senate is a lot of people who are grieving at a very personal level,” said Cramer. “And I’m one of those people. Mike Enzi was just that kind of a person. Just last week, I saw him on the laptop, because he never misses prayer breakfast…even from Wyoming, he Zooms in when new have the prayer breakfast here.”

Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) said in a statement, “This is a sad day for Wyoming and for America. Mike was an absolute giant in our state and his sudden loss just months after retiring from the U.S. Senate is difficult for all of us to accept.”

Funeral plans have not yet been announced.

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