Liz Cheney’s Withdrawal: Thinking Ahead?

by John Fund

Liz Cheney has ended her primary challenge against GOP senator Mike Enzi of Wyoming. The daughter of former vice president Dick Cheney issued a statement last night saying she’d reached the decision because “serious health issues have recently arisen in our family.”

One hopes her family member has a speedy recovery. But Cheney’s withdrawal didn’t surprise anyone: Her candidacy has been star-crossed since she first announced her plans last summer.

In spite of her family’s deep roots in the state, Cheney struggled to convince people she wasn’t a “carpetbagger.” Long registered to vote in Virginia, the former State Department official only moved to Montana last year. Last summer, she was fined $220 for mistakenly buying a resident’s fishing license. State law requires a year of residency before applying for such a cheaper license available to residents; she applied for the resident license just 72 days after closing on her new Wyoming home.

But that wasn’t the only stumble. Her staunchly neoconservative foreign-policy views didn’t get much traction in libertarian-leaning Wyoming. She also got into a public spat with her lesbian sister, Mary, over her opposition to gay marriage. Mary Cheney and her wife, Heather Poe, openly criticized Liz, claiming she had applauded their union privately for years.

In the end, Liz Cheney raised over $1 million from her campaign, much of it from national Republican donors. But her standing in the polls barely budged and she was unable to overcome a yawning deficit against Enzi. Andy Roth of the Club for Growth explained his group’s decision not to get involved in the race: “Both candidates are above average and we didn’t see enough of a difference to get involved.”

All that said, Cheney is only 47 years and she is promising to remain active in politics. Senator Enzi will be 75 at the conclusion of his next term and a likely candidate for retirement. Patience may be one of the least appreciated virtues in politics, but it often pays dividends.