By Paul LeBlanc
Former US Sen. Mike Enzi has died following a serious bicycle accident last week, according to a statement posted on his official Twitter account. He was 77.
“His family expresses their deep appreciation for all of the prayers, support and concern. They now ask for privacy and continued prayers during this difficult time,” the statement said.
The former longtime Republican lawmaker from Wyoming had suffered “serious injuries” while riding a bicycle Friday evening near his home in Gillette, Wyoming, according to an earlier statement from his family. He had been flown to UCHealth Medical Center of the Rockies in Loveland, Colorado, for treatment. Details on the accident were not immediately provided.
After graduating from George Washington University in 1966 and earning his MBA from Denver University two years later, Enzi owned and operated family shoe stores before entering state politics, according to his congressional bio. His public service journey began with a seven-year run as mayor of Gillette before serving in both the Wyoming House of Representatives and the state Senate.
His work in the state Legislature proved to be a political launching pad, and in 1996, he was elected to the US Senate, where he spent more than two decades working to advance Republican causes. Though he kept a relatively low profile, Enzi earned a reputation as a reliably conservative lawmaker who rarely drifted from his party.
Enzi’s low-key approach to governance proved to have a unique staying power with Wyoming voters, who consistently rewarded him with wide reelection margins.
In the 116th Congress, he served as chairman of the Senate Budget Committee and a member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, the Finance Committee, and the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.
“I like being a senator. Not for the title. Not for the recognition and certainly not for publicity. I like solving federal problems for Wyoming people,” Enzi said in a 2019 speech announcing that he would not seek another term.
“I like doing legislation. I’ve developed a pathway that brings people together. I’ve gotten to work with an incredible staff that have made it possible to do more than a senator by himself could do,” he said at the time.
Among Enzi’s more notable positions in Congress was his support for the Iraq War in 2002 and, later, his work to repeal former President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act.
Though he boasted a remarkably consistent conservative voting record, Enzi often stressed the importance of lawmakers working across the aisle to get big things done.
In a farewell address to colleagues from the Senate floor last year, Enzi warned against the dangers of confrontational politics as he highlighted the importance of respectful debate.
“There’s a lot of vitriol in our politics and our world right now, but you can stay true to what you believe in without treating others badly,” he said.
“Nothing gets done when we’re just telling each other how wrong we are.”
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