Herschler in 1977
|28th Governor of Wyoming|
January 6, 1975 – January 5, 1987
|Preceded by||Stanley K. Hathaway|
|Succeeded by||Mike Sullivan|
|Born||October 27, 1918
|Died||February 5, 1990 (aged 71)
|Education||University of Wyoming|
|Service/branch||United States Marine Corps|
|Battles/wars||World War II|
Edgar Jacob Herschler (October 27, 1918 – February 5, 1990), popularly known as "Gov. Ed", was the 28th Governor of Wyoming from January 6, 1975 to January 5, 1987. Herschler built a personal appeal to voters based on charisma, a small-town background, and shrewd political maneuvering to such an extent that he was the only three-term governor in Wyoming history.
Herschler served in the United States Marine Corps during World War II. He received his law degree from the University of Wyoming at Laramie in 1949. He served in the Wyoming House of Representatives from 1959—1969. He was city attorney for Kemmerer as well as the prosecutor of his native Lincoln County in the Democratic southwestern corner of Wyoming. Herschler won his party's gubernatorial primary election and then defeated the Republican Dick Jones (1910–2008), a trucking executive from Cody and a former member of both houses of the state legislature, in the general election of 1974, amid a Democratic national landslide. Herschler polled 71,741 (55.9 percent) to Jones' 56,645 (44.1 percent). Jones had the backing of outgoing Governor Stanley K. Hathaway.
Herschler is best known for his call for "growth on our terms" during the 1970s energy boom which nearly doubled the Wyoming population in a decade. Coal mining began in earnest in the Powder River Basin during Herschler's first term, and severance tax revenue from this development provided funding for construction of modern highways, schools and other public infrastructure.
Herschler's three-term feat will not be replicated unless the state's 1992 term limits statute for statewide elected officials are overturned. He narrowly won reelection in 1978 over former State Senator John C. Ostlund, then of Gillette and later from Cheyenne. Herschler received 69,972 (50.9 percent) to Ostlund's 67,595 (49.1 percent).
In 1982, Herschler handily defeated a third Republican, Casper independent oilman Warren A. Morton (1924–2002), a former Speaker of the Wyoming House of Representatives, in another largely Democratic year nationally. The vote was 63-37 percent. Herschler chaired the Western Governors Conference during part of his tenure. In 1985, he commuted the sentences and ordered the releases of Deborah and Richard Janhke, Jr., who were both convicted in 1983 of manslaughter in the 1982 death of their abusive father, Richard Jahnke, Sr., in Cheyenne and who were the subjects of 1985's television film Right to Kill?
Republicans maintained control of both houses of the legislature during Herschler's administration except for the two-year period from 1975 to 1977, when the Wyoming State Senate was tied. The House Speaker at the start of Herschler's tenure was the conservative businessman and farmer-rancher Harold Hellbaum of Chugwater near Wheatland in Platte County, who served from 1975 to 1977.
Herschler and his wife, Casey, had two children. After he left the governorship, Herschler practiced law in Cheyenne.
- Congressional Quarterly's Guide to U.S. Elections, p. 1538
- National Governors Association info page for Edward Herschler.
- Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 4. Westport, Connecticut: Meckler Books, 1978, 4 vols.
- The Council of State Governments: The Governors of the American States, Commonwealths, and Territories 1900-1980 (1980)
Stanley K. Hathaway
|Governor of Wyoming
January 6, 1975 – January 5, 1987