Governor Gordon has been presented with an opportunity to define his administration as something more than a placeholder in Wyoming history. The choice is his.
I’ve given the governor the benefit of the doubt and, for the most part, held off on scathing criticism of his performance during his tenure.
Shortly after being elected, he was confronted by two viral threats – one medical in the form of Covid and the other political as Trumpism spiraled downward into insurrection.
That backdrop would be daunting for any governor. But Gordon has been able to keep the herd moseying down the trail in pretty good order.
If I have had lingering misgivings about his leadership, it has been his reluctance to use his office as a bully pulpit to brand the Republican Party as his own rather than to allow rustlers to carve out mavericks and brand ‘em with the hot iron of the Freedom Caucus.
Gordon has, regrettably, not fought his corner while Oral Eathorne and the fearmongers in the Freedom Caucus try to steal the ranch.
Had the GOP during Stan Hathaway’s tenure or the Democrats during the Herschler days tried to pull off the same nonsense using the same tactics, the Big Empty would be littered with the political corpses of the renegades.
As governor, Gordon seems to prefer a lighter touch on the reins and, of consequence, opens himself to a bad buckoff. The firebreathers in the GOP sense a weakness in his hand and will test him sorely as his last term draws to a close.
A case in point is the Freedom Caucus pushing him to sever Wyoming’s ties with the American Library Association over the threat to democracy posed by….BOOKS!
The Freedom Caucus has presented Governor Gordon with the chance to stand strong like a real First Amendment trail boss. If he wastes this chance and knuckles under to their demands, he will brand himself as nothing more than their stable boy.
For the sake of the Constitution, the future of the GOP and his own legacy, he needs to man up and stick that Freedom Caucus branding iron where it belongs and break off the handle. He needs to corral those herd-sour firebreathers and push them back into the bunch.
He should have been doing that since his first day on the trail and his lack of action til now has only emboldened them. But by standing up to them now he can do himself and Wyoming a huge favor.
Think about it. These Freedom Caucus chest-thumpers are afraid of books!!! How tough can they really be? They bring no new ideas to the table for the betterment of their fellow citizens, they are just scared spitless of the old ideas in books.
As Governor Gordon rides off at the sunset of his time in office, he can leave us two impressions of his worth as chief executive of the Cowboy State.
He will either be remembered as a strong-minded governor who stands on his own two feet and tells the Freedom Caucus to go to hell. A stalwart boss who tells the malcontents, “Not on my watch”.
Or he can throw in the towel, kow tow to the fringe and leave it to the next governor to clean up the mess. He can leave us the memory of a governor who wasn’t quite up to the task and just wanted to go home.
Governor Mark Gordon’s decision about Wyoming’s relationship with the American Library Association will tell us a lot about him as a leader and it will be remembered for a long, long time.
Rod Miller can be reached at: Rodsmillerwyo@yahoo.com