Petersen to face Mead
By Thomas Dewell
Date: August 18, 2010
Teton County native and Republican Matt Mead will face Teton County resident and Democrat Leslie Petersen in November’s race for Wyoming governor.
Petersen outpaced her nearest competitor, Laramie’s Pete Gosar, 48 percent to 37 percent, according to unofficial primary results. Petersen, the former chairman of the state Democratic party, tallied 10,759 votes to Gosar’s 8,397.
Mead, just before 11 p.m. Tuesday, claimed victory in a tight Republican primary as he garnered 30,272 votes, or 29 percent, to second-place finisher Rita Meyer’s 29,588 votes, or 28 percent. Meyer conceded defeat at approximately 11:30 p.m. Tuesday, her campaign spokeswoman said.
Mead said he now faces a capable opponent in Petersen.
“Leslie is a very good candidate and very well-spoken,” Mead said in a phone interview Tuesday night. “When I started this race, I said no one would outwork us. I’ll take a day off tomorrow, and then I’ll be back out there talking about jobs and the economy and responsible use of our natural resources.”
Petersen recognized she would face a tough opponent who put $897,000 of his own money into his campaign ahead of the primary.
“Money will be one of the biggest considerations in the race,” said Petersen, who gathered with fellow Democrats at her home in Wilson on Tuesday. “Matt is a great guy in many ways. I’ve developed great respect for him.
“It will be a question of whether I can raise enough money to put my message out there as well as he can. We’re going to make every effort to point out that money isn’t the only consideration in the gubernatorial race in Wyoming.”
Teton County Republicans cast 1,815 votes for Mead, or 54 percent of those weighing in on the race. Cody’s Colin Simpson drew the second-most GOP votes in the county at 611, followed by Meyer, of Cheyenne, at 588. Statewide, Mead beat Meyer by only 714 votes.
Mead, 48, is the grandson of Cliff Hansen, the former Wyoming governor and U.S. Senator who lived in Spring Gulch and died late last year. Mead’s brother, Brad Mead, ran his campaign in Teton County.
“It warmed my heart to have that support out of Teton County,” Mead said. “I couldn’t be happier.”
In Teton County, Petersen won over 85 percent of the Democrats who voted in the governor’s race. She drew 1,406 votes, while Gosar attracted 165.
Petersen, 69, has run a state race, served as Teton County commissioner and worked as legislative liaison for the late Gov. Ed Herschler. She characterized the race with Mead as similar to David versus Goliath.
The candidates will diverge on some issues, such as wolves and abortion, but their differences will be smaller on issues such as economic development, technology and connecting the state electronically, Petersen said.
She emphasized that polls show 70 percent of the state residents think Wyoming is generally headed in the right direction. That is due in part, she argued, to there being a Democratic governor in Cheyenne who can counter and overwhelmingly Republican legislature.
“Wyoming residents like having some checks and balances in the system,” Petersen said. “It’s healthy for Wyoming to have a two-party system.”
On Tuesday night, Mead was optimistic about the future of the state, given what he’s seen on the campaign trail.
“The more we campaigned, the more we became hopeful about Wyoming’s future,” Mead said. “This is the state to be in.”