Former Vice President Dick Cheney represented the people of Wyoming for years, and is still quite a popular figure in his home state. That could be a boon to his daughter, Liz Cheney, who is considering running in a primary against current Wyoming Senator Mike Enzi (R-WY).
Just a few days ago we learned that Liz Cheney had contacted Senator Enzi about the possibility of challenging him in a primary before the 2014 elections.
“She called me and said that she’s looking at it,” Enzi said. Douglas Chamberlain, former Speaker of the Wyoming House added, “I know of no one who doesn’t want Mike Enzi to run for the Senate again.” To which Mr. Enzi observed, “There’s at least one person out there who wants me to retire.”
If Ms. Cheney chooses to run against Mr. Enzi she will face an uphill battle. Senator Enzi is very popular in his home state and is seen as a reliable conservative. Running for office in Wyoming is not like running for office in Florida, Texas, or California. Because of the population size, Mr. Enzi is well known and well liked throughout Wyoming. He has visited small hamlets and his face is easily recognizable. In Wyoming building a political dynasty is not hard, as long as you get to know the people.
He does have several “weaknesses” that might hurt him in other states but are not necessarily a problem in Wyoming.
Senator Enzi is a quiet, unassuming politician who is not often seen demagoguing his political adversaries. Mr. Enzi is much more likely to be seen working with the opposition than calling them out on TV or radio. In this politically divisive climate, many voters would prefer to see him in attack mode, but that’s just not his personality.
Also recently, Senator Enzi was the leading Republican in efforts to pass an internet sales tax. This was a widely disparaged action and many Republicans are still upset that a “conservative” Republican would fight to see taxes raised. If Enzi were running elsewhere, the internet sales tax may have been an albatross to his reelection – but in Wyoming he remains very popular.
Senator Enzi also enjoys the support of the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), who have pledged to support him if there is a primary. The NRSC says that their “main responsibility is to ensure the reelection of Republican senators on the way to the majority. We would obviously support Sen. Enzi if a challenge arises.” While Liz Cheney is just as “establishment” a candidate as the NRSC normally prefers, so too is Mike Enzi.
Senator Enzi has also won the support of one of the most popular Senate Republicans among younger conservative activists. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) was recently asked what he thought of the possible matchup between Enzi and Cheney to which he responded, “I don’t know much about her or her politics, really… I am a friend of Sen. Enzi and while we aren’t exactly the same, I consider him a good conservative.”
Having the support of the establishment and of the younger non-establishment members like Paul should mean that Cheney will likely stay out of an ugly primary with Senator Enzi. It should also help that Enzi is 69, and his time in politics should be drawing to a close. Perhaps a move by Cheney to stay out of Senator Enzi’s way could win her favor and support from Enzi and the rest of the Party in Wyoming when her time does come.
For now, I think it’d be best for Ms. Cheney to focus on local politics and build her credentials with the people of Wyoming. Let Senator Enzi have his last dance.
The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by EagleRising.com