If we were to make a list of competitive Senate races to watch in 2014, Wyoming wouldn’t make the cut. Sen. Mike Enzi is a popular Republican incumbent in a deep-red state – he won re-election in 2008 with more than 75% of the vote – and at age 69, the senator is not yet in a position where he needs to think about retirement. Enzi’s fourth term looks like one of the cycle’s safest bets.
At least, it did. In an era in which even conservative Republican incumbents have to worry about fierce primary challenges, Enzi will apparently have a high-profile foe next year.
A young Dick Cheney began his first campaign for the House in this tiny village [Lusk, Wyoming] – population 1,600 – after the state’s sole Congressional seat finally opened up. But nowadays, his daughter Liz does not seem inclined to wait patiently for such an opening.
Ms. Cheney, 46, is showing up everywhere in the state, from chicken dinners to cattle growers’ meetings, sometimes with her parents in tow. She has made it clear that she wants to run for the Senate seat now held by Michael B. Enzi, a soft-spoken Republican and onetime fly-fishing partner of her father.
It’s not just idle speculation. Liz Cheney, despite having no meaningful background in the state whatsoever, moved with her family to Wyoming just last year and quickly became a ubiquitous political player. Indeed, the right-wing media personality even called Enzi directly, letting him know she’s likely to run against him in a GOP primary.
The result would probably be an ugly fight within the state Republican Party, pitting a popular three-term incumbent against a powerful family with deep roots in the state.
It’s not altogether clear why Cheney would bother. Her brief tenure in public office – she worked in the Bush/Cheney State Department – didn’t go well, but she remains a fixture in political media, routinely publishing “stark raving mad” pieces and making Sunday show appearances. Cheney’s megaphone is formidable, even if she uses it towards ridiculous ends.
But whatever her motivations, this will probably be one of the cycle’s more noteworthy primary fights. Enzi, assuming he doesn’t retire, would almost certainly have the edge, though he has not yet faced a rival as fierce and unburdened by propriety as Cheney.
On Twitter, @pourmecoffee added, “If ‘Liz Cheney’ is the answer, the question must be ‘How could the U.S. Senate possibly get any worse?’”
Postscript: The NYT piece noted that the former vice president, eager to help his daughter, has also begun traveling more regularly to the state he used to represent. That said, Liz Cheney “has told associates that if she runs, she wants to do so in her own right.”
It was the only sentence in the article that literally made me laugh. Cheney wants to run against a popular incumbent from her own party in a state she’s lived in for a year, and she thinks her candidacy should be unrelated to her last name? C’mon.