Former Wyoming Sen. Mike Enzi dies after bicycle accident
Former Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) died after sustaining serious injuries from a bicycle accident on Friday, his family said late Monday.
Enzi, 77, was known as one of the more conservative lawmakers during his time on Capitol Hill, where he served for four terms in the Senate before retiring late last year. The senator served as chairman of the Senate Budget Committee and Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.
The former senator was involved in drafting more than 100 bills signed by four different presidents during his tenure in the Senate, according to the Casper Star-Tribune.
Tributes poured in for Enzi early Tuesday.
Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso (R), who served alongside Enzi, called him "one of the most consequential public servants of our time," while Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney (R) referred to the former senator as "a straight-shooter, an honest broker, and a soft-spoken but powerful advocate for the causes he cared deeply about."
"This is a sad day for Wyoming and for America," Cheney said in a statement. "Mike was an absolute giant in our state and his sudden loss just months after retiring from the U.S. Senate is difficult for all of us to accept."
Prior to his long career in politics, Enzi served in the Wyoming National Guard and later built upon his father’s shoe business in Gillette. He shortly thereafter started his foray into politics, serving as mayor of the town from 1975 to 1983.
Enzi credited Gillette with kick-starting his political career during an interview with The Associated Press.
“Diana and I got married and the next week we moved here,” the former senator said, referring to his wife. “What we were intending to do was start a life, and we started our shoe store.
“Then we got to build a community. Then I got to do some things at the state level, then the federal level. It all started here and is based on what I learned while I was here.”
Enzi later served in the Wyoming House of Representatives in the late 1980s and early 1990s before completing a six-year stint in the state Senate.
In 1996, Enzi won his first U.S. Senate race, defeating Democrat Kathy Karpan with 54 percent of the vote. He was reelected with 73 percent of the vote in 2002.
Enzi announced in 2019 that he would not be seeking reelection in 2020, saying he did not want to be “burdened with the distractions of a campaign” while wrapping up his fourth term.
Enzi reflected on the need for Republicans and Democrats to come together during his final Senate floor speech in 2020.
“People sometimes think compromise is the answer,” Enzi said. “I think it means I give in to something I don’t like, and you give into something you don’t like, and then we wind up with something no one likes. It’s not legislating. But when it comes to legislating, often the best way to get something everyone can agree on is to leave out the things you don’t agree on, and focus on what you can get done.”
The former senator’s son, Brad Enzi, first announced in a tweet on Sunday that his father had been involved in an accident. An update was posted on Enzi’s Twitter account on Monday, saying Enzi had been airlifted after the accident on Friday from Gillette to UCHealth Medical Center of the Rockies in Loveland, Colo.
Enzi is survived by his wife, Diana, and three children.
Updated at 8:25 a.m.