Next year’s senate primary in Wyoming just got a whole lot more interesting. The Associated Press reports that Liz Cheney, the elder of Dick Cheney’s two daughters, has officially announced her plans to challenge Wyoming’s senior senator in the Republican primary.
The move isn’t a complete surprise—rumors of it had been swirling inside the Cowboy State and around the Beltway for weeks—but it’s still rather major news because 69-year-old Sen. Mike Enzi has made it clear that he has no desire to step aside, even for the daughter of his former fly-fishing buddy. Here’s how the New York Times’ Jonathan Martin summed things up last week in advance of today’s announcement:
Ms. Cheney’s move threatens to start a civil war within the state’s Republican establishment, despite the reverence many hold for her family. Mr. Enzi, 69, says he is not ready to retire, and many Republicans say he has done nothing to deserve being turned out. … The developments underscore the complicated relationship between the Beltway-centered Cheney family and the sparsely populated state that provided its political base.
Martin’s talk of a GOP civil war may sound like hyperbole, but Wyoming Republicans are painting a similar picture. Asked about Cheney’s likely bid to unseat Enzi, former GOP Sen. Alan K. Simpson of Wyoming told Martin that a Cheney-Enzi face-off would bring about “the destruction of the Republican Party” in Wyoming. “It’s a disaster — a divisive, ugly situation — and all it does is open the door for the Democrats for 20 years,” Simpson said.