Eli Bebout

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Eli Daniel Bebout

President of the Wyoming State Senate
In office
January 10, 2017 – January 9, 2019
Preceded by Phil Nicholas
Succeeded by Drew Perkins

Wyoming State Senator for District 26
Incumbent
Assumed office 
2007
Preceded by Robert "Bob" Peck

Wyoming State Representative
In office
1987–2000

Speaker of the
Wyoming House of Representatives
In office
1999–2000
Preceded by Bruce A. Hinchey
Succeeded by Rick Tempest

Born October 14, 1946
Rawlins, Carbon County, Wyoming
Political party Democrat-turned-Republican (early 1990s)
Spouse(s) Lorraine Bebout
Children Jordan Joseph
Reagen Marie
Taggert Hugh Bebout
Alma mater United States Air Force Academy
University of Wyoming
Military Service
Allegiance United States
Service/branch United States Air Force
Unit Air Force Reserve Command


Eli Daniel Bebout (born October 14, 1946) is a veteran Wyoming politician and a state senator since 2007 for District 26. From 207y to 2019, he was the state Senate President. He resides in Riverton in Fremont County]] in the central portion of the state. A Republican, Bebout is also a former state representative, House Speaker, and his party's gubernatorial nominee in the 2002 general election. He was initially chosen state senator on a 4-0 vote by the Fremont County Commission to succeed Senator Robert A. "Bob" Peck, who died in office on March 6, 2007.[1]

Background

Bebout graduated from Shoshoni High School in Fremont County and entered the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs in June 1964. He left the academy in 1967 without graduating. He resigned after complaints surfaced that he had violated the honor code by covering for the presence of some absent cadets and by allowing questionable tutoring practices. Thereafter, he obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in engineering from the University of Wyoming at Laramie, his state's only four-year degree-granting institution. He served in the Air Force Reserve but was not called to active duty during the Vietnam War.

Bebout owns a water, oil and natural gas drilling company, a construction company, and a farm and ranch operation. He is president of Nucor Oil and Gas, Inc., in Riverton.[2]

He is the chairman of the Wyoming Business Alliance and the Wyoming Heritage Foundation, and he is affiliated with the Independent Petroleum Association of America. He is also a member of the National Republican Legislators Association.[3]

Republican race for governor

Bebout was not originally Republican, having been first elected to the state House in 1986 as a Democrat. He switched parties early in the 1990s to express his opposition to U.S. President Bill Clinton. He was thereafter groomed for state leadership by the GOP hierarchy.

He became the House Republican Leader in 1997 and Speaker from 1999 to 2000. In 2002, he challenged the conservative Raymond Breedlove "Ray" Hunkins of Wheatland, in Platte County for the Republican nomination for governor. Also in the primary were businessman Bill Sniffin of Lander, former State Representative Steve Watt, and John Self of Sheridan. Bebout ran an advertisement to show that he had strong party support, compared to Hunkins, an attorney and rancher. Sniffin attacked Bebout about his employment practices. "Forty-nine state legislators support Eli Bebout for Governor" said one of his commercials. He also won the endorsement of the National Federation of Independent Business, a small business advocacy group.[4]

In what shaped up as a close primary, Bebout gained the support of the party's popular former U.S. Senator Alan Kooi Simpson, a Cody attorney and a state leader of the Moderate Republican faction.[5] Simpson was particularly vitriolic in attacks on Hunkins. Bebout received 44,417 votes (49 percent); Hunkins' 25,363 (28 percent). Sniffin, Watt, and Self split the remaining 23 percent. An outright majority is not required for a party nomination in Wyoming. There has been speculation that the intra-party strife doomed Bebout in the general election.

As soon as he had defeated Hunkins, Bebout launched a strong campaign against the Democratic nominee, David Duane "Dave" Freudenthal, formerly of Thermopolis and a former U.S. Attorney]] in the capital city of Cheyenne appointed by U.S. President Bill Clinton. Until the last days of the campaign, Bebout was considered the favorite. One highly inaccurate poll right after the primary had even shown Bebout with an 80-15 percent lead. Freudenthal pulled an upset, 92,662 votes (50 percent) to Bebout's 88,873 ballots (47.9 percent). Bebout won fifteen counties to Freudenthal's eight. The other 1.9 percent went to Libertarian Party nominee Dave Dawson. Some in the media questioned whether Bebout's defeat was a slap at [[Vice President of the United States|Vice President Richard Bruce "Dick" Cheney, who came to Wyoming to campaign for Bebout the Sunday before the Tuesday election.[6]

Wyoming State Senate

Bebout said that his gubernatorial aspirations were behind him as he began a new political stint as the lowest-tenured state senator. He was named to the Agriculture, State and Public Lands & Water Resources Committee and the Minerals Committee. As of 2020, Bebout remains in the Senate.[7]

Peck had served in the Senate since 1991 and was chairman of the Senate Revenue Committee and a member of the Senate Education Committee.

Traditionally, House speakers retire from the House, and few have run for the Senate. Former Speaker Bruce Hinchey, a Casper Republican, served one term in the Senate, 1999 to w002, but he did not seek reelection after he accepted a position as president of the Petroleum Association of Wyoming.

The Bebout family

Bebout and his wife, Lorraine Joyce Bebout, reside in Riverton. Their children include Jordan Joseph Bebout (born c. 1978), Jentry Janee Bebout (born 1980), Reagen Marie Bebout (born c. 1982), and Taggert Hugh Bebout (born c. 1984).

Eli Bebout is a survivor of esophageal cancer

References

  1. Joan Barron (April 4, 2007). Bebout wins Senate seat. The Casper Star-Tribune. Retrieved on August 9, 2020.
  2. People of Touch Oil and Gas. touchoilandgas.com. Retrieved on August 9, 2020.
  3. Senator Eli D. Bebout. wyoleg.gov. Retrieved on August 9, 2020.
  4. Small Business Group Endorses Bebout. The Billings (Montana) Gazette (October 17, 2002). Retrieved on August 9, 2020.
  5. Bill Croke (November 11, 2002). What Happened in Al Simpson's Wyoming?. The American Spectator. Retrieved on August 9, 2020.
  6. Freudenthal wins Wyoming governor's race. CNN (November 6, 2002). Retrieved on August 9, 2020.
  7. Wyoming State Senate officers. Wyoming Secretary of State. Retrieved on August 7, 2020.