There must be nothing more frustrating than going from the pinnacle of power and influence to being a bitter political has-been, and verbal bomb thrower, to an ever decreasing and less interested audience. Such is the fate of Dick Cheney and to a certain extent his daughter Liz.
The agony of being dismissed by most, and the ever worsening perception of the Cheney legacy, must surely explain Liz Cheney’s sudden urge to get back her roots and offer up her services to the great people of a state in which she has hardly ever lived. The announcement of her candidacy for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Republican Mike Enzi is as much an act of political desperation and hutzpah as it is an attempt to further the political aspirations of father and daughter — neither of whom have ever had much interest in Wyoming, aside using it as a springboard for their national political ambitions.
What ever her reasons for entering this race Liz Cheney faces a daunting task in unseating the incumbent Republican Senator from Wyoming.
The Cheney name no longer holds any particular reverence for many Wyoming voters, including some Republicans. It may easily be the most recognizable name in the state, but not always for the right reasons.
Mike Enzi is a true blue conservative soldier with an almost perfect conservative voting record. Enzie marched in lock step with most of the policies that George W. Bush and then vice president Cheney put forward, and has been a vocal critic of most everything that the Obama administration has tried to do. From the conservative point of view he has been right on guns, right on the budget and right on social issues. Perhaps Cheney can challenge him for not being stupid enough or corrosive enough in his views, or perhaps not doing enough to effect partisan grid lock in Washington. Aside from that it would seem that she has little to offer in the way of alternatives.
There are about 450,000 people in Wyoming. The successful politician for statewide office will be expected to shake most of those hands, and the prairie is littered with the bones of candidates who simply thought they could phone it in. Money is important, but so is shoe leather. Not just in the larger areas of Cheyenne, Casper and Gillette, but in Chugwater, Ethete, and Thayne as well. Mike Enzi knows this and he is good at it.
If it can be said that Dick Cheney has a lousy personality, then it may be equally safe to say that Liz Cheney has no personality at all. This is about retail politics and the Cheney’s have never been very good retailers.
The political establishment in Washington and in Wyoming, especially former senator Al Simpson have been lukewarm to the Cheney candidacy to put it mildly. If she is expecting an endorsement from a popular governor who is sure to seek a second term, or a well regarded former senator who loves the Senate and is fiercely loyal to his former colleagues in that body she may be in for a long wait. Her political obituary may read, ‘damned by faint praise’.
It may be however that she will be greeted as a liberator and the campaign will be over in six weeks. This is one time I choose to believe that the Cheneys are asking more than the good folks of Wyoming are willing to give. If such is the case both Wyoming and the country will be the better for them having said no.
– Jace is a Trail Mix Contributor and a 50-year resident of Wyoming, born and raised there. (He voted for Dick Cheney’s first WY race — and regrets it.)