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Liz Cheney's Senate Bid Exposes GOP Schism

Lisa Barron

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July 17, 2013

Liz Cheney's decision to jump into the Wyoming Senate race is threatening to bring an all out generational war within the Republican Party.


Senators are horrified that the former Second Daughter would challenge low key veteran conservative Sen. Mike Enzi, who immediately brought forward his announcement that he will seek a fourth term next year.


Related: Liz Cheney to Seek Wyoming Senate Seat

Enzi made it clear that he will not roll over with a stinging message to his new opponent. "I thought we were friends," he told reporters


"She said that if I ran she wasn't going to run — obviously that wasn't correct."


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Cheney, 46, says she wants to be among a new generation of conservative Republicans in the Senate, casting herself in the mold of Texas' Ted Cruz and Utah's Mike Lee. "I don't see seniority as a plus," she said in announcing her run.


But she gained no support from frequent Cruz ally, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky. "When I heard Liz Cheney was running for Senate I wondered if she was running in her home state of Virginia," he said, according to Politico.


When Paul was asked about Cheney's potential run earlier this month, he told Politico, "I am a friend of Sen. Enzi and while we aren't exactly the same, I consider him a good conservative."


Opponents say that Cheney — who casts herself as a fourth-generation Wyomingite — has spent almost her whole life in Virginia, moving back to the Equality State only last year, when she bought a $1.9 million home in an exclusive Jackson Hole community, specifically so she could mount a campaign for the Senate.


She has since traveled the state giving speeches in the lead up to Tuesday's formal announcement that she would try to topple Enzi, 69, in a primary.


Enzi had already gained the backing of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which said last week it would support him if Cheney announced. "Our support will be there for Mike," said chairman, Sen. Jerry Moran of Kansas.


Wyoming's other two Congressional members also declared their backing for their colleague. Sen. John Barrasso stood with Enzi when he was being asked about Cheney's run.


"Sen. Enzi is my friend, he is my mentor, he is a tremendous senator for the people of Wyoming," Barrasso said. "I am supporting him for re-election."


When asked what he thought about Cheney, he said, "She's very talented and has a bright future."


The state's sole representative, Republican Cynthia Lummis also made it clear where her sympathies lie. She told CNN she considered Cheney's move "bad form."


"I don't know that anybody can out-conservative Mike Enzi," said Lummis, who had planned to run for the Senate herself if Enzi had retired.


Lummis also attacked Cheney as an out-of-stater, moving back for political advantage.


"It's a unique strategy to live your entire life elsewhere and then come to a state a year before you're going to announce you're going to run for that state's highest office," she said.


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