I now think the Wyoming Liberty Group sunk us in Wyoming. I learned about them last summer, and tried for months to get them to help. I’d been told that they had real influence with as many as twenty House members. The founder, Susan Gore of the Gore-Tex clan, finally told me they had limited resources and declined to be involved. That didn’t smell right, but we saw neither hide nor hair of them in Cheyenne, and I figured they were staying out of it. I was wrong, according to a conversation I just had with Senate President Phil Nicholas. He said in the end they were just overwhelmed with negative emails generated by WLG, and others.
This was an important conversation. We have to have Wyoming, and he’s the key. The whole idea of the Reagan Amendment came from his stated desire to amend the Wyoming Statehood Act. And Phil Nicholas is a very bright guy. If there’s something wrong with this idea, he’d see it, and he’d tell me about it.
He is, he said, intrigued. I told you he was smart. He wasn’t planning on going to NCSL in August, but now he thinks he might. He’s got a lot of family in Portland and he could turn the trip into a bit of a vacation. I hope he comes. I want this guy as a partner. He’s got a lot of balls in the air, but if he could devote a little time to this he could really be helpful.
And he should. He cares as much about Wyoming as anyone, and the Reagan Amendment would be very, very good for Wyoming. And, since he is a politician, who is believed to be interested in running for Governor, it makes sense for him, personally. If Wyoming gets its land they’d put up a statue of him. Well, a plaque, anyway.
This puts me in an extra fine mood. It is final confirmation of the Reagan Amendment’s political viability, and its necessity. Without the Reagan Amendment we won’t get Wyoming. And we won’t get Idaho, or Montana, or Arizona either, for that matter. Without the Reagan Amendment, this whole thing dies.
I knew Phil Nicholas was the key the last time I went to Cheyenne. I watched him preside over the Senate, just to see how he handled himself. If you’re experienced you can see things. I liked the way he conducted business. When I testified before Senate Rules, which he chairs, I tried my damnedest to read him, get inside his head a little. He keeps his cards close to the vest, and doesn’t give anything away. He’d be good at poker. At the last hearing of Senate Rules I thought Eli Bebout had gotten to him, and we were O.K. He killed the Compact, and passed our bill out. Then, over the weekend, he changed his mind. The opposition was too intense. And I suspect the opposition of Susan Gore may have played a role as well.
That’s all behind us now. We’ll be back in Cheyenne in January, and with Phil on our side it will be in the bag. I won’t even have to go back, personally. I might though, for the hell of it. It would be fun to see Tyler and Dan and Bill McIlvain. I only had a few minutes with Eli Bebout, and I’d like to get to know him better. He seemed like the kind of guy you’d like to get to know. I might even wind up making a friend of Phil Nicholas.
The world turns.