Wednesday, March 12, 2014
The Associated Press
Saying it's time for a new generation of leaders in Washington, Liz Cheney, the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, announced Tuesday she will run against Wyoming's senior U.S. senator in next year's Republican primary.
This Feb. 18, 2010 file photo shows Former Vice President Dick Cheney hugs his daughter, Liz Cheney, at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington. Liz Cheney says she will run against Wyoming's senior U.S. senator in next year's Republican primary. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen, File)
This July 2, 2013 photo shows U.S. Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., talks to constituent John Marquardt at a senior center in Pine Bluffs, Wyo. Enzi, on the left, hasn't said yet whether he will seek re-election to the Senate while Liz Cheney, daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, has said she's prepared to challenge him in the 2014 Republican primary. (AP Photo/Ben Neary)
Cheney is taking on popular Sen. Mike Enzi, who announced almost simultaneously on Tuesday his plans to seek a fourth, six-year term.
Cheney's announcement is a political challenge unlike anything Wyoming has seen for years, maybe decades. Republicans in the state rarely challenge incumbents of their own party in national office. All three members of the state's congressional delegation and all statewide elected officials are Republican.
Liz Cheney, 46, is the elder of the two Cheney daughters. Married with five children, she was a resident of Virginia until recently. She and her husband bought a home last year in the posh northwest Wyoming community of Jackson Hole.
Asked why voters should oust a powerful incumbent in favor of a rookie, Cheney said seniority isn't necessarily an attribute.
"I think that part of the problem in Washington today is seniority. I think it's time for a new generation, for a new generation to come to the fore. I don't see seniority as a plus, frankly," Cheney told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.
Enzi made his campaign announcement more than six months earlier in the political cycle than he has in the past. He said he would continue to "do the job I was already elected to do."
"Working behind the scenes — this is what I have been doing since I was elected and this is what needs to be done," he said by email through a spokesman.
Enzi immediately won the endorsement of colleagues in the Senate, including the National Republican Senatorial Committee.
"Our support will be there for Mike," said the committee's chairman, Republican Sen. Jerry Moran.
The race promises to be hard-fought. Enzi has had few serious Democratic challengers — much less Republican ones — since he was first elected to the Senate in 1996. He remains well-liked around the state as an affable former shoe salesman and mayor of the coal-mining city of Gillette.
Enzi, 69, takes pride in keeping a lower profile and remaining much less partisan than most of his colleagues. He often refers to his "80-20" rule — that opposing parties usually can agree on 80 percent of the details of any given issue — as a model for Republicans and Democrats to work together.
He handily won re-election in 2008 with more than 75 percent of the vote.
Cheney did not specifically criticize Enzi, but she did present herself as an opponent of President Barack Obama's policies and an advocate for smaller government and lower taxes.
"I think it's time for us to say to ourselves, can we continue to go along to get along in Washington?" she said.
Her interest in the seat has been an open secret for months, dating back at least to last year's purchase of a home in Wilson, a community in Jackson Hole, that was listed for $1.9 million.
She appeared onstage with her father at last year's state Republican Party convention. It was Dick Cheney's first public appearance since he underwent a heart transplant, and father and daughter have been working on a book together.
Since then, Liz Cheney has made frequent appearances at county-level Republican events in virtually every corner of the state. She also has been in the national public eye as a Fox News political commentator.
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