Mead, a Republican who was easily elected in the 2010 general election after a hotly contested four-person GOP primary, told the Powell Tribune last week that he remains undecided on running next year.
“I’ve not made that decision yet,” he said during an interview in Lovell.
Mead said he will make an announcement sometime in early 2014. He said after that decision is made and disclosed, he will endorse a candidate in the Republican senatorial contest between Sen. Mike Enzi and challenger Liz Cheney.
Mead seemed to lean heavily toward endorsing Enzi, who was at the Big Horn County Republican meet-and-greet with him on Friday.
“I’m a big fan of Senator Enzi,” he said.
But he said he is friends with both families and has known Cheney, 47, for many years.
In addition, Mead said with a smile, he will be teamed with Cheney’s father, former Vice President Dick Cheney, at the One-Shot Antelope Hunt near Lander, so he didn’t want to displease him before that event — a humorous nod to Cheney’s famously erratic shooting.
“But the first order of business is deciding on the governor’s race,” he said.
That will largely center on his family, he said. Mead and his wife, Carol, have two children, Mary, 15, and Pete, 13.
Mead, 51, was born and raised in Jackson, where he graduated from high school before attending Trinity College at San Antonio, where he earned a bachelor’s degree before obtaining a law degree from the University of Wyoming College of Law in 1987. He has lived and worked in Gillette, Jackson and Cheyenne in the past 25 years.
He and his family live in the governor’s residence in Cheyenne and he also owns the private residence there where the family lived before he was elected governor, as well as a ranch in Albany County.
In addition to his family demands, Mead said he already has devoted a large chunk of his career to public service.
He was the United States attorney from 2001-2007, and prior to that worked as a county prosecutor for Campbell County, a federal prosecutor at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Cheyenne, a special assistant attorney general for the state of Wyoming and a special assistant United States attorney.
Wyoming Superintendent of Public Instruction Cindy Hill plans to run in the 2014 Republican gubernatorial primary, but Mead said that is not a factor as he decides if he will run again.
“I’m not concerned about that,” Mead said.
He said while he doesn’t put a lot of stock in polls, he has seen three surveys that show him as the most popular governor in the nation. He also has seen a poll that show him with a large lead over Hill, he said.
Mead said he will continue to serve as governor based on what he thinks are the right things to do, and will not consider factors like polls or his re-election chances.
So far, no Democrat has announced an interest in the race. Independent Taylor Haynes of Cheyenne, who drew 7.3 percent as a write-in candidate for the office in 2010, has established an exploratory committee.
Mead may be waiting to announce in 2014 to ensure he does not irritate voters who are already being subjected to a GOP Senate race that could last more than a year.
“We don’t like long campaigns,” he told The Huffington Post in February after Hill said she planned to run against him. The 2014 Wyoming primary is set for Aug. 19.
Politics are a family tradition for Mead. He is the grandson of the late former Sen. and Gov. Cliff Hansen, a Republican. His late mother, Mary Elisabeth Hansen Mead, was the GOP candidate for governor in 1990.
Mead sought an appointment to the Senate in 2007 after the death of Sen. Craig Thomas. He resigned as U.S. attorney, as is required by federal law, before announcing his intentions to enter politics.
Mead worked hard to obtain the Senate seat, as did Cynthia Lummis but then-Gov. Dave Freudenthal, a Democrat, appointed John Barrasso, a Republican, to the vacant seat. Lummis, also a Republican, was elected to Congress in 2008.
Mead then set his eye on state office, and was elected governor in 2010, besting State Auditor Rita Meyer, Fort Bridger rancher Ron Micheli and state House Speaker Colin M. Simpson, the son of longtime Sen. Alan Simpson, in the GOP primary.
In the general election, Mead breezed past Democrat Leslie Peterson 72-25 percent, with Haynes taking the remainder of the vote.