In Wyoming, we almost had a primary challenge to reliably-conservative-but-not-standout senator Enzi. After a few months of testing the waters, Liz Cheney has withdrawn. Alas, it seems that we are not to see her as Senator. At least not right now.
The cynic in me thinks that this was never about getting elected to the Senate in 2014. I received a letter that must have been part of a state wide mass mailing just days before she suspended her campaign. Why bother with what must have been the biggest and most ambitious expense so far, if you are thinking of withdrawing from the race?
And why are news outlets reporting that she has already mended fences with some of those who supported Senator Enzi. I suspect that they all knew that she was not going the distance. Perhaps she even told them so. They were free to support the current Senator, who had as much chance of losing to her in the primary as he does of losing to the Democratic candidate in the election itself. (Enzi won his last election by about 40 points) If my cynical side is correct, then her candidacy did everything it was supposed to do. It was never about winning. Odds are, she will soon (if she has not already done so) make a statement that supports Senator Enzi. Even when she ran, she talked about what Wyoming needs, but never really said that Senator Enzi wasn’t supplying it – a necessary thing to do if you are serious about knocking off a popular incumbent who could be vulnerable for some recent foolishness about increasing taxes. Yet, she ran a campaign that burned no bridges.
What did her candidacy do? It established that she intends to be a voice in Wyoming politics for some time to come. Senator Enzi will be 75 at the end of his next term. Liz Cheney will be 53. At his age, the good Senator will likely give very serious consideration to retirement. By Washington standards, Liz Cheney will still be considered young. (I think one of the Supreme Court justices is now 157). Anyone who is thinking of running for that Senate seat has been warned: You will have to go through Liz Cheney to get it. Mission accomplished. Pack up the banners and go home for a few years.
I suspect that the message was received loudly and clearly throughout Wyoming politics, especially in the Lummis household, the Mead household, and the household of every state officeholder.
Too cynical? The other possibility is that a family dynasty that managed to make it as far as the Vice-Presidency misread the electorate of Wyoming, dove in without a plan to actually achieve something, went up against a very popular sitting Senator, had every long-time family friend publicly reject her candidacy, got into an argument about gay marriage that made her look bad on both coasts, but established her conservative bona fides on marriage (which is still a thing you want to do in Wyoming), all for the privilege of pulling out in embarrassment before anyone in the state was even paying attention, when you were still 50 points down in the polls.
Ulterior motives in politics? Surreptitious positioning for the future?
Nah. I’m probably just paranoid.