Apr 5, 2013 - By Eric Blom, Staff WriterApplause and whistles filled the War Bonnet room in the Best Western Inn at Lander when a speaker introduced Del McOmie as the guest of honor. The Fremont County Republican Party hosted a dinner for 160 people on March 8 to celebrate the retired state legislator and raise funds for local conservative campaigns.
"You had courage. You provided mentorship not only to our Legislature but to our governors," Gov. Matt Mead said about McOmie in his keynote speech. "Tonight we recognize Wyoming and what makes it wonderful."
"Del McOmie has been a wonderful resource," said U.S. Rep. Cynthia Lummis when she addressed the crowd. "Thank you, Fremont County, for sending him to Cheyenne for so many years."
Republicans holding some of the top offices in state, county and national government came to congratulate McOmie on his years of public service. Among the attendees were several state elected officials, almost all of Fremont County's state legislators and representatives of county government.
McOmie represented Lander and surrounding areas in House District 54 for 14 years, from his first election in November 1998 until his last term ended Dec. 31. Lloyd Larsen won McOmie's seat after the longtime representative decided not to seek re-election last year.
"It feels very nice, I appreciate it," McOmie said about the honor.
He thought it was time to step down, but he missed being in the Legislature. McOmie followed it closely this year and said he would have liked to have been involved in discussing the bill limiting the superintendent of public instruction, one regarding Game and Fish funding and the bill increasing the gas tax, he said.
He does not miss all the work, however.
"A lot of people don't recognize the long hours and how hard you work," McOmie said. "So I'm better rested."
He is unsure what is next but said he stays busy, visiting with people and helping with the Lander Community Center rebuild.
"Things have a way of finding you," McOmie said.
While a legislator, he served on the Travel and Corporations Committees, Select Committee on Tribal Relations, and 10 years on the Education Committee. Local residents also knew McOmie as Lander's mayor from 1975 to 1987.
Before he turned to politics, McOmie worked for the Wyoming Department of Transportation.
U.S. Sens. Mike Enzi and John Barrasso, R-Wyoming, and others who could not make it sent letters. After the letters were read, State Auditor Cynthia Cloud, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Cindy Hill, and State Sens. Eli Bebout of Riverton and Cale Case of Lander thanked and congratulated McOmie.
Mead's time in office only overlapped with McOmie's for two years, but the governor had high praise for him.
"It's a benefit to the Governor's Office, you have someone there who provides continuity," Mead said later. "He can say: Here's the issue, here are the players. Providing that is a great benefit."
Case said he's known McOmie a little longer. When he was Lander's mayor, McOmie hired Case to be the city economist in the late 1970s when Case was in graduate school.
Case said he studied the local economy and intervened for the city on utility rates.
"It gave me a chance to make a contribution," he said.
Case later was a state senator during McOmie's seven terms in the House. McOmie also won Case's House seat after Case vacated it to run for the Senate.
"He co-sponsored so many bills for me," Case said. "There were bills about public employees, state spending, the Wyoming Life Resource Center; Del was always there."
Speaking to the crowd, Bebout said McOmie will be missed.
"I just can't see you not being involved somewhere in the political arena," he said.
After congratulating McOmie, Bebout read a proclamation from the Legislature declaring March 8, 2013 as Del McOmie day.
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