Wednesday, December 11, 2013
The Associated Press
(Continued from page 1)
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)
A Wyoming political veteran, Chris Rothfuss, said her candidacy may be a sign of the divisions that have roiled the national Republican Party for several years, with GOP officeholders being challenged from within their own party if they are seen as too willing to compromise with Democrats.
The Democratic state lawmaker, who lost to Enzi in 2008, said Liz Cheney's challenge reflects "everything that's wrong" with partisanship in national politics.
"Mike's being attacked in this election because he's been traditionally willing to compromise and reach across the aisle in a manner that's unpopular with the partisan culture," he said.
"I would also say that the reason that Liz Cheney is running out of Wyoming rather than what in effect would be her home state of Virginia is because we're basically seen as a much cheaper option in trying to obtain a Senate seat. Obviously, it's an attempt to leverage her name recognition," said Rothfuss, a chemical engineer.
Cheney said Wyoming always has been her home and is where her heart is.
"My sense is, as far the carpetbagger charge, is it's from people who don't want to talk about substance, don't want to talk about the issues," she said in the interview.
The Cheneys are well-established as a family with Wyoming roots — an important qualification for anybody seeking major office in the state. Dick Cheney held the state's lone congressional seat in the 1970s and 1980s before he moved up the political ladder.
While Liz Cheney was born in Madison, Wis., her announcement release pointed out that the Cheney family has roots that go back more than 100 years in Wyoming.
Ahead of Tuesday's announcements, Enzi has refused to be critical of the prospect of a Cheney challenge. He said Liz Cheney earlier told him she would run if he chose not to seek re-election in 2014.
"I'm not going to comment on her," Enzi said. "My job is to do what the people of Wyoming expect me to do."
In a show of unity, he and Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., walked off the Senate floor together Tuesday. Barrasso praised Enzi as his "friend and mentor."
Cheney's challenge of Enzi promises to make many Wyoming Republicans uncomfortable because they will be forced into choosing between two popular figures.
Former Wyoming Sen. Al Simpson, an often frank and witty observer of state and national politics, said Tuesday he couldn't comment on what the race would mean for the Wyoming Republican Party.
"Right now, I have nothing to say at all except one thing, I deeply care about both of them, and that's all I have to say," said Simpson, a Republican.
Cheney holds a law degree from the University of Chicago and has worked as a lawyer for the State Department and the Agency for International Development.