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Is the US Senate ready for another Cheney: Liz follows her father’s political path

Elder daughter of former vice president to challenge sitting Republican Senator Mike Enzi next year

Just when you thought it was safe to come out there’s another Cheney about. This warning matters most if you are a voter in Wyoming – a somewhat rare species – but it is piquing considerable national interest nonetheless.  Running for high office in the Cowboy State all of a sudden is not Dick but Liz.

Like father, like daughter, Liz Cheney, elder daughter of the former vice president, apparently cannot resist disturbing the hornets, hence her abrupt announcement that she intends challenging sitting Republican Senator Mike Enzi when his seat comes up for grabs next year. No matter if it means civil war in the party. 

Some Republicans think her move simply rude, including Senator Enzi himself who only days ago announced his intention to run for the seat again. “She said that if I ran she wasn’t going to run. That wasn’t correct,” remarked Mr Enzi, a conservative who nonetheless has a reputation for seeking partisan compromise where possible since first being sent to the Senate in 1996. “I thought we were friends.”

While she served in the US State Department during the first George Bush term, Ms Cheney, 46, has inherited much of her father’s ‘neocon’ inclinations on foreign affairs.  More recently she has rehearsed her hawkish views, for example on Libya and Syria, as a commentator on Fox News.  She is also a co-founder of ‘Keep America Safe’, a rightwing foreign policy pressure group in Washington.

Much of the party establishment is closing ranks to protect Senator Enzi from the Cheney challenge. “Mike Enzi is a friend, a mentor and a tremendous US Senator for Wyoming,” the other sitting Senator from Wyoming, John Barrasso, said. “I support his re-election.”  The sole US Representative for Wyoming (pop. barely half a million), Cynthia Lummis, said Ms Cheney had shown “bad form” with her announcement.

Ms Cheney already has wide name recognition and will have little difficulty raising funds notably from the old neocon acolytes of her father.  In her announcement she offered herself as a new broom.  “I’m running because I believe it is necessary for a new generation of leaders to step up to the plate,” she said. “We can’t continue business as usual in Washington.”

Her path to victory in the primary may be steep, however, not least because while he is mostly low-profile in Washington, Senator Enzi has remained broadly popular in the state and has mostly avoided drawing the ire of the Tea Party which has been behind some recently Republican Party primary upsets.