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Western Governors Give Bipartisanship a Try. At Least for a Few Days.

U.S.Western Governors Give Bipartisanship a Try. At Least for a Few Days.

The bipartisan boat ride on Lake Tahoe was scrapped because of scheduling issues. At least three of the participating Republicans were suing the administration of one of the Democrats.

At the opening reception, Gov. Mark Gordon of Wyoming, a conservative in cowboy boots, turned to Gov. Gavin Newsom of California, a liberal in sunglasses and a ball cap, and joked, “You and I shouldn’t be seen together.”

Not everybody laughed.

As the Western Governors’ Association marked its 40th anniversary this week in Olympic Valley, Calif., the organization did its best to maintain a tradition that has long been its hallmark: the increasingly lost art of governing across party lines.

Under sunny skies and a snowcapped Sierra Nevada, experts from the private sector to members of the Biden administration presented on disaster management, opioids and carbon capture. Aides rushed between meeting rooms. Eight governors appeared on a panel examining the organization’s longstanding culture of consensus — but seven of them were no longer in office.

“We used to have this bumper sticker — ‘Bipartisanship Happens,’” Steve Bullock, the former Democratic governor of Montana, said. “But bipartisanship doesn’t just happen. It takes work.”


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