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Posted by on Jan 6, 2014 in Featured, Politics | 7 comments

Liz Cheney quits Senate campaign to oust Mike Enzi: cites “serious health issues” in family (UPDATED)

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Liz Cheney, the eldest daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, is dropping her bid to unseat Wyoming’s respected conservative Senator Mike Enzi in a primary challenge, citing “serious Serious health issues have recently arisen in our family.” Whether this proves to be the case or one more instance of someone quitting something to “spend more time with their family” will be seen in coming months. But she’s out — and clearly many in the national and Wyoming Republican parties will be relieved. Her campaign had caught on like doused, wildfire. She was so low in the polls she spot an arctic glacier.

Liz Cheney, whose upstart bid to unseat Wyoming Sen. Mike Enzi sparked a round of warfare in the Republican Party and even within her own family, is dropping out of the Senate primary, she said in a prepared statement Monday morning.

“Serious health issues have recently arisen in our family, and under the circumstances, I have decided to discontinue my campaign,” she said.

Cheney, the eldest daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, began telling associates of her decision over the weekend, CNN reported late Sunday night.

“Though this campaign stops today, my commitment to keep fighting with you and your families for the fundamental values that have made this nation and Wyoming great will never stop,” she added.

Cheney’s surprising decision to jump into the race, an announcement made in a YouTube video last summer, roiled Republican politics in the Wyoming, a state that Dick Cheney represented in Congress for five terms before moving up the Republican food chain in Washington.

She ran a flailing campaign that moved moved steadily right, handing out so much red meat the any day it seemed as CostCo managers would get in line to stock their stores.

Cheney surprised some and clearly shocked her sister, Mary Cheney, by coming out against gay marriage. Mary Cheney and her longtime partner Heather Poe publicly expressed their offense to the older Cheney’s position — and her dad and mother backed their older daughter in this all-too-public family spat.

Perhaps even worse: Lynne Cheney got into an even uglier public spat with a Wyoming institution: former Senator Alan Simpson, a longtime friend of the Cheney family, who said she had told him to shut up in expressing opposing to her daughter’s bid. Lynne Cheney basically denied she said it, Simpson felt his veracity was being challenged and he took her assertion to the mat. She could not win: anyone who has watched or interviewed Simpson (as I did when in a phone interview once when I was on the San Diego Union) knows he is the quintessential straight shooter.

Some wonder if the family feud over gay marriage is what triggered the Liz Cheney campaign’s demise. Perhaps the next big political nonfiction book will provide the answer, but Liz and Dick Cheney’s impact on the part remains enduring.

Liz Cheney may be out of the campaign to oust a respected Wyoming Senator who used to be her father Dick Cheney’s close friend until he said he was Dick Cheney’s best friend and the former Vice President effectively called him a liar and responded with a “Best WHAT?” But she and her father’s influence on politics in Wyoming — and in the Republican Party — remains huge. They have helped bring about the Cheneyization of the Republican Party in their attitudes towards those not in their party, how they characterize those who don’t agree with their positions on national security and their position on Republicans deemed not conservative enough to fit their definition of conservatism. Dick Cheney was a foreshadowing of the further-to-the- right Tea Party to come.

The Cheney candidacy provided a tense moment for Republicans, who felt there was a risk (no matter how remote) in the party losing a safe seat. Enzi had the full backing of the party’s state and national establishments. Even Ann Coulter blasted Liz Cheney, lumping her into the “huckster” category.

But Liz Cheney and her public verbal war over gay marriage with her sister was a godsend to cartoonists. To wit:

 Adam Zyglis, The Buffalo News


Adam Zyglis, The Buffalo News


Steve Sack, The Minneapolis Star Tribune

Steve Sack, The Minneapolis Star Tribune

Notes Ed Kilgore:

The official excuse is an undisclosed family illness. Assuming that’s an entirely legitimate explanation, you still get the sense most people around her are relieved to get off a bandwagon that was hemorrhaging oil and ready to lose a wheel.

What’s interesting about this sort of abandoned challenge is whether the changes it put in motion can now be reversed. Can Mike Enzi stop chewing big bloody chunks of meat three times a day and go back to being an obscure generic conservative Republican senator? Can Liz and her family move back to Virginia and abandon this whole Wyoming thing? Hard to say. But it’s one less Senate challenge we’ll have to keep up with later this year.

Perhaps the lesson here is that political dynasties are not always easy to get in place. Bigtime.


SOME OTHER BLOG AND WEBSITE COMMENT:

-The Week’s Peter Weber:

It turns out Wyoming Republicans aren’t ready for a change. Or if they are, a hawkish Beltway insider not unfairly accused of carpetbagging isn’t the change they had in mind.

Cheney dropping out of the race so soon is important in at least one way: A handful of big Republican donors just threw away money that could have gone toward other races. Cheney raised at least a million dollars after she announced her candidacy, and Enzi did the same — big money that early in a primary race in Wyoming.

Otherwise, though, Cheney’s crumple doesn’t mean much.

Firedoglake:

As hard as it is to believe that a campaign centered around someone whose sole qualification for office was being related to Dick Cheney wasn’t a wild success, it’s over. According to CNN, Liz Cheney is preparing to drop her bid to be a United States Senator from the state of Wyoming.

The campaign seemed ill-fated from the beginning. Liz Cheney’s only experience in politics outside of her dad’s campaigns was hurling invectives on TV – not a skill without prospects but not really grounds to be a Senator.

Not to mention part of her campaign strategy, ironically, was to attack a member of her own family.

Hot Air’s Ed Morrissey:

True, but the former Vice President had already had his heart transplant by the time Liz Cheney announced her bid. The fight with her sister Mary had already been fought in public, too. If those were the hurdles, Cheney had already vaulted past them. This statement seems to suggest that other health issues have arisen that are more directly related to Cheney or her nuclear family.

Perhaps it’s just as well. This campaign always seemed a bit ill-considered. Enzi didn’t have a particularly RINO-ish reputation until Cheney decided to go after him; the American Conservative Union (which hosts CPAC in March) rated Enzi at 92.73% for 2012, 89% in 2011, and 96% in 2010. On top of that, questions immediately arose as to Cheney’s connection to Wyoming, where she had lived sparingly at best for the last several years. The sudden exit makes the decision to challenge Enzi even more questionable.

The big question now will be whether the intraparty rift in Wyoming will heal, and what this does for the credibility of groups that lined up behind Cheney against Enzi. That may depend on whether they quietly switch to supporting the incumbent in an otherwise safe seat, or attempt to push another primary opponent instead.

Taylor Marsh:

Liz Cheney isn’t a humble woman, which was fully exposed in the spectacle of her Senate campaign. Her arrogance of certainly has been seen over the last years on Fox News Channel. Her past efforts and her resume had created a walkway to a serious political career, as did her family clout in the Republican Party.

Once Senator Mike Enzi’s strong stand and leadership against Obamacare became known on the right as prescient, with Fox News Channel playing the clip of his strong Senate speech over and over again, any hopes of Liz Cheney catching him collapsed further.

The reality became that Liz Cheney thought entitlement would carry her. As her campaign sunk lower and lower, finding a way out of stunning disgrace became paramount.

-Doug Mataconis:

Given his own health history, the natural first conclusion is that the “serious health issues” involve former Vice-President Dick Cheney, but the statement seems to indicate that the issue arises much closer to Cheney’s immediate family. Whatever the reason, Cheney’s decision to drop out gives Mike Enzi a clear path to re-election to a fourth term in office. Although, to be honest, it was never likely to that Cheney would have been successful her bid to unseat Enzi in a primary fight.

Queerty:

Undoubtedly the low point of Liz’s campaign was her decision to use opposition to marriage equality to prove her right-wing credentials. That move was a clear slap in the face at sister Mary and her wife Heather. They responded with a public dressing down, pointing out that Liz happily attended their wedding before deciding she hated lesbian nuptials.

Don’t you hate it when family members call you a hypocrite in public? Especially when they’re right.

About the only good thing to come out the campaign for Liz was the knowledge that she is Dad Dick Cheney’s favorite daughter, who was quick to come to her defense and to note how irritated he was with the attack on her.

Talking Points Memo:

Cheney’s candidacy resulted in awkward exchanges between her father, former Vice President Dick Cheney, and many longtime members of Wyoming’s Republican political establishment, which tends to be close knit and made up of long-serving members of Congress. Former Wyoming Sen. Alan Simpson accused Cheney of “destroying family relationships” with her Senate bid. And Enzi himself got in a bizarre debate with Cheney’s father over whether or not they were in fact “fishing buddies.” Enzi said yes; Dick Cheney said no.

But for all the heat the race generated, polls consistently showed Enzi crushing Cheney. And the real damage appeared to come from an increasingly public and acrimonious argument with her sister over support for same sex marriages. Mary Cheney, who is out and married, publicly criticized her sister and suggested she had privately supported gay marriage before getting into the race. Mary eventually said publicly that she was not supporting her sister’s campaign.

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