By Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily
Former U.S. Sen. Al Simpson takes credit for starting the late Mike Enzi’s political career.
“He was one of my early people in Campbell County,” Simpson told Cowboy State Daily. “And then I was at a Jaycee’s convention here at the Cody auditorium in the early 1970s, and I was to speak. They (Enzi and his wife Diana) were at a table with us. He got up and he spoke, then he came back to the table.
“And I leaned over and told him, ‘There are people who are really ready to do something for their community, for their county and for the state. And you look like one of those.’ And I just put it on him,” he continued.
But the funniest incident came later that evening, Simpson recalled.
“Diana said, ‘What did Al talk to you about?’ and Mike said, ‘He told me I should run for Mayor.’ And she nearly wrecked the car.”
With the sudden death of his friend and colleague after a bicycle accident this week, Simpson said the state lost an inspirational leader — and tragically, Enzi’s life ended just as his long-awaited retirement was getting started.
“You’d call him, and his answering machine would pick up and say, ‘Retired Mike Enzi!’ Yes, Retired Mike Enzi,’” Simpson said, laughing. “He was full of life and humor.”
Simpson pointed out that Enzi was one of the few politicians in Congress who wasn’t afraid to cross party lines to get things done.
“You don’t get anything done by just saying, ‘Look at me, I’m a big Democrat, and I don’t care about Republicans,’ or ‘I’m a big Republican, I don’t care about Democrats,’” Simpson said. “If those are the people that are going to get in to Congress, then you may as well send zombies. They don’t work with anybody, and that’s what’s killing the country – and he never bought into that.”
The loss that Simpson said he is experiencing is hard to put into words, but he said there is a sentiment that fits the situation
.“There is an old Indian phrase in Shoshone,” Simpson noted. “It’s ‘Our hearts are on the ground.’ And they are.”