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Newly elected Wyoming Governor appoints Attorney General

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November 24, 2010

CHEYENNE, Wyoming: Newly-elected Republican Governor Matt Mead announced on Monday, November 22nd, 2010 his selection to fill the position of State Attorney General. Greg Phillips, a fifty year old federal prosecutor in the United States Attorney General's Office in Cheyenne, was tapped by Mead, his former boss and close friend, to take over the statewide position from Democratic-appointee, Bruce A. Salzburg. Wyoming is just one state out of four that entitle the governor to select the state's top prosecutor. The other three include Alaska, Hawaii, and New Jersey; Hawaii, another state whose governorship has changed party hands, appears poised to name a Democrat to the public office. What is surprising about Mead's selection, however, is that Phillips is Democrat. This is not unusual, at least not recently; Republican Governor Chris Christie earlier this year named Paula Dow, a Democrat and close friend, to serve as the Garden State's top cop. Though it could be viewed as an olive branch across the partisan divide, it appears as though trust, rather than party allegiance, is the key among newly-elected governors in naming state level appointees.

One of the main topics of concern for the recently named state attorney general will be the state's inclusion in the twenty-plus state lawsuit against the federal government concerning its passage of the controversial health insurance mandate. Speaking to reporters at a press conference the day after President Barack Obama signed into law his controversial health care reform bill, the one that narrowly passed the United States House of Representatives just two days before, Democrat Governor Dave Freudenthal said Salzburg would not be joining thirteen other state attorneys general in a suit against the federal government opposing the measure. His reasoning behind this decision was, he said, based on the fact that "they have plenty of plaintiffs and plenty of lawyers and when the Supreme Court rules, whichever way they rule, it still affects Wyoming."[1] Mead, however, campaigned specifically on the promise of having Wyoming join the growing number of state attorneys general in opposing what he considers to be an unconstitutional overreach on the part of the federal government. Phillips stated that he has begun researching the legal challenge presented in court and "expects Wyoming to enter that lawsuit in January."[2]

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