It didn’t occur to me to mention the Cheneys as a potential dynasty in this post, but it should have. Liz Cheney’s been talking about possibly running some day for years. She bought a home in Wyoming, where Dick was elected to Congress, less than 12 months ago (and denied, naturally, that it had anything to do with politics). She spoke at a local Republican Lincoln Day Dinner in mid-March, which wasn’t the first GOP event in Wyoming she’s attended recently. She published a “stand up and fight” op-ed in the Journal just 10 days ago. All signs point to yes.
But next year? For Mike Enzi’s Senate seat?
Wyoming Republican Sen. Mike Enzi may be gearing up to for re-election in 2014, but that doesn’t mean Liz Cheney is ruling out a run for the Senate seat now.
A source close to the politically active daughter of Vice President Dick Cheney tells The Daily Caller that she is still seriously considering running.
Over the weekend, The Casper Star Tribune reported that Enzi told a meeting of the GOP state party committee that he is looking forward to running for re-election — something he has yet to formally announce.
So Enzi’s in the way. What about other House/Senate seats in Wyoming? There are only two, and they’re also occupied by Republicans (of course):
Many of my friends disagree with me, but my hunch is that Enzi, who has never sought the spotlight in the Beltway, will decide he’s been frustrated being in the Senate minority and so will retire to spend more time with his family. Once he lost the opportunity to chair the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, when Republicans failed to take over the Senate in 2012, one of the best incentives for him to run again disappeared.
But that still doesn’t automatically clear the way for Liz Cheney, since Rep. Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.) may decide she wants to move to the upper chamber. That would create a quandary for Cheney and her family. If she wants to be a U.S. senator, 2014 is the logical race to enter, because Wyoming’s second Senate seat is occupied by Sen. John Barrasso, who is high in the GOP leadership and isn’t going anywhere else for years.
Would Cheney challenge Lummis in a Republican Senate primary? Cheney could well receive some backlash from Wyoming voters. There’s a stark contrast between Cheney, who has long lived in other states, and rancher, lawyer and former legislator and then State Treasurer Lummis, a native who has unquestionably paid her state political dues. Many people here have suggested that Cheney moved to a state she hasn’t lived in as an adult simply because she saw Wyoming as the only state someone with the Cheney name and legacy could win.
Barrasso’s just 60 years old and got reelected last year with 75 percent of the vote, so that seat’s likely to be occupied until, oh, 2030 at least. Wyoming’s House seat may be vacant sooner rather than later if Lummis ends up running for governor, but I don’t know if Cheney would want to be a face in the crowd in the House. She’s got a perch on Fox News and a national profile with conservatives already; what does she gain, really, by having the honor of casting Wyoming’s reliably red vote in Boehner’s caucus? It’s Enzi’s seat or bust. I hope she takes a shot at it, just because I’m curious to see that primary. For starters, how do you challenge a doctrinaire conservative like Enzi from the right? Conversely, would Enzi try to use her father’s legacy against her in some way? The Cheney brand means something in Wyoming but it’s not an unvarnished good even with tea partiers, I’d assume. (Not unvarnished but still mostly good. I’ve always found it fascinating how conservative activists have mixed feelings about Bush but, in my experience, remain reliably enthusiastic about Dick Cheney. The two share a legacy on TARP, spending, Iraq, etc, but because Cheney remains unapologetically hawkish and willing to fight with the left on things like Bush’s counterterror policies, he’s held in high esteem.) Meanwhile, Cheney would have to deal with accusations that she’s a carpetbagger and the fact that she hasn’t held office before. Would Karl Rove’s new group wade in on her side, out of family loyalty, or avoid the contest on grounds that you don’t mess with a successful incumbent? Hard to see how she wins despite the national grassroots enthusiasm for her, but it’d be fun to watch.
If you’re a hawk, you should hope she runs if only because your side needs an outspoken advocate in the Senate. McCain and Graham are still there but nobody likes them; their nastiness towards Rand Paul arguably does the cause more harm than good. Rubio’s reliably hawkish but he’s also a bit of a weathervane and will tone it down once Rand Paul’s team starts hitting him for being a new McCain at a moment when the public’s tired of war. If you want someone who’ll make the case for peace with strength without reservations, she’s your candidate. Imagine the floor arguments she and Paul would have — with Liz, ironically, sometimes defending Obama’s positions as Paul inevitably makes the isolationist case against them. Endless blogworthy content. It’s up to you, Mike Enzi!
Update: No room to Enzi’s right.