As Liz Cheney gears up for a primary challenge against Wyoming’s Republican Sen. Mike Enzi, she’s not going to get any help from the senior senator’s colleagues.
On Tuesday, Enzi announced he would seek a fourth term in the Senate, and just as swiftly, Cheney—the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney—announced in a web video that she would run against the incumbent. Enzi said that he was surprised by Cheney’s bid, adding that he thought the two of them were friends.
Both of Enzi’s colleagues, Republican Sen. John Barrasso and the state’s at-large Republican Rep. Cynthia Lummis, have said they’ll support Enzi as Cheney makes her case—which seems less ideological and more driven by her own personal ambition. Conservative Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky as said he’ll back Enzi, too.
Barrasso, the state’s junior senator, who ran unsuccessfully against Enzi in the 1996 GOP primary for the open senate seat, said Enzi is still the strongest choice for the state on Wednesday’s The Daily Rundown.
“Mike has a very strong solid conservative record of getting things done for the people of Wyoming,” said Barrasso. “He is my friend, and he is my mentor.”
While Cheney, who recently moved back to Wyoming, where she grew up and her father represented for a decade in Congress, could have a future in Cowboy State politics, Barrasso said this shouldn’t be the fight to pick.
“She’s terrific and has a future that is very bright,” said Barrasso. “But this is the wrong race at the wrong time.”
Barrasso underscored—for the outsized attention this primary will receive on a national scale because of Cheney’s campaign, this race will ultimately be decided by a very small pool of Wyoming voters—with as few as 100,000 voters going to the polls.
“The election isn’t for another 13 months,” he said of the August 2014 contest.