Tags: Cheney | Wyoming | Enzi | Senate

Cheney Challenge Could Open Door to Dems in Wyoming

Image: Cheney Challenge Could Open Door to Dems in Wyoming

Tuesday, 16 Jul 2013 08:13 AM

By John Gizzi

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As Wyoming's Republican Party anticipates a decision Wednesday from Liz Cheney on whether she will challenge Sen. Mike Enzi in a primary next year, there is also concern that such a battle royale within the GOP might give Democrats a shot at winning a Senate race in the state for the first time since 1970.

So intriguing is the possibility that it recently made the front page of the New York Times.

For months, Dick Cheney's daughter has been sounding out Republicans in her home state about a possible challenge to Enzi, who, at 69 is poised to seek his fourth term in the Senate.

Both are strong conservatives but, at 46, Cheney — an attorney, former Bush administration official and mother of five — is likely to run as a "new leader for tomorrow" if she runs.

Recalling a recent meeting with Cheney, one veteran conservative who requested anonymity told Newsmax: "She said she is running and is raising money. She indicated that she is not anti-Enzi.… She asked for my help and I said, 'No.' I like Liz. She is articulate, conservative, younger. If Enzi were like John McCain, it would be a no brainer. But Enzi is solid."

Referring to the former vice president, the same source said: "Dad will make lots of calls. She has spoken to every group you can think of."

Enzi has signaled he is running but has not made it official. If he decides not to run, the state's at-large congresswoman, Cynthia Lummis, also a strong conservative, has said she will seek the Republican nomination.

Would a Cheney-Enzi showdown or a Cheney-Lummis battle leave enough hard feelings after the primary to give a Democrat a shot at the Senate seat?

"As to hard feelings, there definitely will be some," Jack Mueller of Cheyenne, former national chairman of the Young Republicans, told Newsmax. "It is hard to gauge right now. The problem the Dems have is that there is no farm team. Their strength in the legislature is non-existent: 26-4 Senate, 52-8 in the House."

Among Democrats mentioned for the Senate are former Gov. Dave Freudenthal, who is expected to get encouragement to run from national Democrats beginning with Barack Obama. Also mentioned is former state Rep. Mike Massie, who lost a bid for state superintendent of education last year — and lost badly.

The third name is Rodger McDaniel, one-time boy wonder of Wyoming politics and favorite of the party's left. A former congressional staffer, state legislator, and ordained minister, McDaniel, in Jack Mueller's words, "is a liberal, even by Colorado standards. He is a '60s and '70s hippie who has never grown up."

Mueller recalled, "McDaniel and his wife burned their marriage certificate in protest recently to show solidarity for gay marriage. He won't have much money, but he will be loud and energetic and the media will love him."

As to whether Wyoming voters will "love" McDaniel or any other Democrat enough to make them the first to win a Senate seat since Gale McGee in 1970 may well depend on the intensity of the Republican race between Liz Cheney and Mike Enzi.

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.

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