(Opinion)— It had been awhile since I’d seen my Republican friend Trent, and I couldn’t wait to tell him the news.

“Did you hear that the governor said that not only will he not endorse Donald Trump for president, he won’t even vote for him?” I asked.

“Well, I thought he might be leaning that way,” Trent said. “It didn’t sound like he thinks much of Trump, so I guess I’m not surprised.”

“He told the Washington Post, ‘I guess when I get behind the curtain I’ll have to figure it out. Maybe write someone in. I’m not sure,’” I said.

“I wonder who Matt Mead would write in,” Trent said.

I was confused for a second, then realized we had a failure to communicate. “Oh, I’m not talking about Wyoming’s governor,” I replied. “I’m talking about Maryland’s Republican governor, Larry Hogan.”

Now it was Trent who was befuddled. “Why in the world do I care what Larry Hogan thinks about Trump?” he said. “I’ve never even heard of Gov. Hogan.”

“Well, according to a Morning Consult survey, he’s the most popular governor in the nation,” I informed my friend. “Matt Mead is only the third most popular governor. And the second most popular, Charlie Baker of Massachusetts, has already said he won’t endorse Trump.”

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“Is that what Mead’s going to do too?” Trent asked.

“Oh no,” I explained. “Even though he denounced Trump for saying a judge can’t fairly decide the lawsuit against Trump University because he’s a Mexican, and said that he’s not happy about all the racist, mean-spirited things Trump says, Mead endorsed him.”

I’ll pause here because I sense a few of readers don’t believe I actually have any Republican friends, and thus must be making this all up. Well, I do count several members of the GOP as my friends, so even if Trent does happen to be imaginary, I was telling him the truth. Think of him as a composite of all the close Republican friends I have in Wyoming — none of whom would likely appreciate being outed here as a friend of Drake.

Let’s get back to Mead. Given what he’s said in the past few months about the presumptive GOP presidential nominee, I was surprised to see him come out and actually endorse Trump. First of all, Trump doesn’t seem to be that popular in Wyoming — Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas won 23 Wyoming delegates to the National Republican Convention, while Trump only earned one.

Second, if Mead is really going to go back to ranching when his second term as governor expires in two years, why would he even care what Trump or other Republicans think of him? If he doesn’t believe Trump would make a good president — and that’s basically what Mead has previously said — why tell Wyoming residents they should vote for him?

Mead did a Fox Radio interview April 4 with Alan Colmes that didn’t get much attention in Wyoming, but the governor clearly wasn’t a fan of Trump then.

“Are you at all horrified and embarrassed — or pick your verb or adjective — about Donald Trump?” Colmes asked.

“I certainly think he’s touched on some issues that are important to America. I think he understands a lot of people are angry,” Mead began. “But sort of my standard — I think about my mother and grandfather, and you know the language [Trump] uses — some of the things he says about women and minorities, it’s not the way to go about it.

“I worry about this election — it’s such a critical election, but I worry about our political process,” the governor continued. “I want great people, both on the Republican and the Democrat[ic] sides, Alan, to throw their name in the hat. If it means your spouse is going to be called something or it means [Trump] disagrees with you so it means you’re ugly or you’re a bad person — I don’t want people to become president because of that.”

Mead added that he wonders what former Presidents John Kennedy and Ronald Reagan would think about the extremely negative, personal things that are said at political debates these days. It’s a good question. Personally, I think they’d both be sickened by American presidential campaigns today, and Trump’s boorish, inexcusable antics would be one of the main reasons why.

In another dig at Trump, Mead told Colmes, “As a candidate I don’t think you get to say, ‘Once I become president I’m going to become presidential.'”

The host asked Mead if he would support Trump if he’s the nominee. Mead said, “All I can say is that if he becomes the nominee, I will vote for him, versus …”

Colmes interrupted. “It sounds like your teeth are clenched when you’re saying that, governor,” he joked.

Fast-forward about two months to June 9, when Mead condemned Trump’s statement that a federal judge shouldn’t preside over a case against him because of the judge’s Mexican heritage. Trump wants to build a wall between the United States and Mexico and make Mexico pay for it, in case you haven’t heard him mention it in every speech he’s made in the past year.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Mead called Trump’s comments about the judge “clearly inappropriate.”

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“Anytime you’re saying that a person will be thinking one way or another or biased one way or another just based upon race, I just think it’s certainly going to be subject to that criticism of racism,” Mead said.

But the governor said even a racist Trump is still preferable to Hillary Clinton, the presumptive Democratic nominee. Mead thinks Trump’s policies on energy would be better for Wyoming and the West, and in determining who would make a better president, he believes “that clearly would be Mr. Trump over Secretary Clinton.”

Really, governor? Trump keeps spouting horrendous racist statements about Hispanics, wants to ban Muslims from the United States, has routinely called women “pigs” and charged that President Barack Obama actually backs “extremist Islamic terrorists” against the nation he leads. Do you really think someone that deranged and out of control should be our president?

The Huffington Post has an editorial policy requiring an editor’s note on all stories it runs about the GOP candidate: “Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion —from entering the U.S.”

Unless Republicans dump Trump at their national convention — which looks increasingly possible, no matter what House Speaker Paul Ryan says — Huffington Post’s warning will probably get a lot longer by November.

I’ve got to talk to more of my best GOP friends about why they insist on backing a delusional, self-absorbed demagogue to be the leader of the free world. I think I’ll start with Trent — he promised to buy me lunch.

— Columns are the signed perspective of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of WyoFile’s staff, board of directors or its supporters. WyoFile welcomes guest columns and op-ed pieces from all points of view. If you’d like to write a guest column for WyoFile, please contact interim editor Matthew Copeland at matthew@wyofile.com.

Kerry Drake

Veteran Wyoming journalist Kerry Drake has covered Wyoming for more than four decades, previously as a reporter and editor for the Wyoming Tribune-Eagle and Casper Star-Tribune. He lives in Cheyenne and...

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  1. Again, I find it interesting that Drake continues to assail the GOP candidate, when clearly Hillary Clinton has been proven to be totally untrustworthy. I think it says a lot about character, or lack of it.

  2. Guv Matt’s just riding for the brand…the Big R.

    I hope I live long enough to see Republicans revert back into Americans and start doing their own critical thinking

  3. Clinton/Trump Drake/Scott ”
    Wingnut polarism” and “the not so great generation” at its finest.

  4. We, in Wyoming, have no rational representation at the state or federal level…. What has happened?

    1. To truly make the door you must have two sides, in our legislative system the door to representation is one sided and rules not on the Whole as a republic but as the few.

  5. Our governor was joined by Senators Barrasso and Enzi in endorsing Donald Trump. Why let them off the hook? Men of the West are supposed to be independent, beholden to no one, strong individuals. While that may be too much to ask, a little integrity would be nice. Why do they want to debase themselves like this? Chris Christy is not an inspiring act to imitate. I don’t think blind loyalty to a party in as much disarray as the GOP is going to pay many dividends.

  6. A New York Times Sunday Magazine story out this morning has the reporter, Mark Leibovich, after interviewing dozens of Republican party leaders over the past few months, saying, “I’m willing to bet a good portion of the elected Republicans who claim minimal allegiance to ‘the nominee’ will wind up voting for Clinton in the privacy of their voting booths while rooting for Trump’s complete humiliation” as the best course for the future of the GOP.

    No one will know Matt Mead’s vote except him.