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The GW Hatchet


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Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

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Alumnus, one of the most conservative senators, up for re-election

Courtesy of Enzi for Wyoming
Courtesy of Enzi for Wyoming

Mike Enzi, an alumnus running for his fourth term as a U.S. senator, has advice for GW students who want to go into politics.

“Get a real job first.”

Enzi, who received his bachelor’s degree in accounting in 1966, said when he came to campus, he didn’t think his future would be in politics. Now he’s the senior senator from Wyoming, and has been called one of the most conservative members of the Senate.

Enzi said students who want their next office to be on Capitol Hill should spend their time in college learning about other subjects. He pointed to his accounting major, which he said gave him a skill he could use when drafting legislation.

“I think that if you have people who have some background in some other kind of business in politics you’re able to achieve a lot more than people who just know politics,” he said.

Still, Enzi said coming to GW gave him exposure to living in the city and helped him make connections with future government contacts.

Enzi, who was a member of Sigma Chi fraternity on campus, is running against Democrat Charlie Hardy. The senator is expected to keep his seat: Real Clear Politics’ estimated average of several sites’ polling data shows Enzi up by at least 38 percentage points.

Enzi said he started in politics on the local level, after he spent several years working for a small business. A friend encouraged him to run for mayor of Gillette, Wy., and he later ran for state and federal positions.

He said if he could return to college, he would focus on learning more about topics that would help him while crafting bills in the Senate. He now tries to read 100 books a year.

“One of my regrets was that I didn’t pay more attention. I’ve had a need for it. I consider myself to be continuing my education,” he said.

The National Journal ranked Enzi as the second-most conservative senator, based on its 2013 vote ratings.

In 2013, Enzi voted against a Senate immigration bill, arguing that it did not do enough to protect small businesses that hire non-U.S. citizens. He voted against legislation to expand background checks for gun owners. He has also vocally opposed the Environmental Protection Agency’s restrictions on greenhouse gases, which began in June.

Enzi was part of the “gang of six,” the group of senators tasked with creating a bipartisan health care plan. The senator voted against the Affordable Care Act, claiming the cost of the healthcare bill was too much.

Enzi attended a mens’ basketball game in January at the Smith Center, when GW defeated VCU.

Kris Hart, an alumnus and the owner of Foggy Bottom Grocery, interned for Enzi’s office when he was in high school. He said Enzi and his staff threw him a surprise party on his 18th birthday, and Enzi wrote Hart a recommendation letter when he applied to GW.

“He was singing happy birthday to me, he wrote some really nice notes to me,” Hart said. “He’s really a very down-to-earth, genuine guy.”

Alex Pollock, president of GW College Republicans, said high profile conservative senators like Enzi serve as role models for members of the student group.

“I think there’s definitely this sort of idea of what they aspire to be, aspiring politicos who want to be in positions of power,” he said. “People like Enzi and Colin Powell and traditionally J. Edgar Hoover, these are real movers and shakers who went to GW.”

Pollock said his group had not had any direct interaction with Enzi’s office during his two years at the University and they haven’t helped with his re-election campaign because it wasn’t considered competitive.

But even without working with Enzi, Pollock said Republicans at GW could learn lessons from the senator.

“I think GW and College Republicans can learn from him and his work,” Pollock said. “It definitely helps to have a permanent figure.”

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