If you’ve lived in Wyoming for any length of time, there’s a good chance you’ve heard people talk about a “good old boy” network that has a disproportionate influence behind the scenes.
For example, a recent article on Townsquare Media regarding a proposal to increase fuel prices by 15 cents per gallon over three years drew several comments on social media suggesting that the proposal was supported by the ‘good old boy’ network, or that the ‘good old boys’ would find a way to use the money raised by the tax for something other than highway and road maintenance.
At various times during casual conversations or on social media, you will read or hear references to the “good old boys” who are supposed to exert undue influence behind the scenes. It is rare that the “good old boys” are exactly, if ever explicitly stated. At various times it is implied or openly stated that they run the Wyoming Legislature, various state bureaucracies. local governments, economic organizations such as chambers of commerce and Wyoming Business Council, among other groups. I
n 2019, Marion Orr, then mayor of Cheyenne, said that the sacking of President of the University of Wyoming, Laurie Nichols “Smells of good old boy politics.”
In some versions of the story, the good old boys lead the dance in small towns across the state and rural areas in particular.
According to some versions, the network is not necessarily reserved for men either. Senator Cynthia Lummis and Congresswoman Liz Cheney, as members of powerful Wyoming families who have long been influential, are sometimes seen as equally or at least beneficiaries of the good old boy’s influence.
Usually, the alleged members of the network appear to come from old established families in Wyoming, they tend to be very well-off, if not downright wealthy, and they tend to hold influential positions.
According to legend, they also watch over each other behind the scenes.
But is all this true? Or is it the political / social equivalent of the jackalope myth – something that makes a good story, but isn’t real?
Or maybe the state was run by “good old boys” but their days are over?
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