John King and Peter Hamby scoop some news that will devastate every hack who hoped to expense Jackson Hole trips for “political reporting” this year. Liz Cheney, the former Fox News analyst with a knack for getting State Department jobs whenever her father was serving in a Bush administration, will drop her bid for U.S. Senate. King/Hamby sum up her five-month campaign of errors:
Her critics labeled her a carpetbagger, noting that she moved to Wyoming only in 2012 after relocating from Virginia. The issue flared in August after the Wyoming media reported that Cheney improperly received a fishing license despite not living in the state for at least a year, as the law requires.
Grabbing even more attention was her very public dispute with her sister, Mary, over the issue of same-sex marriage. Mary Cheney, who is a lesbian, took to Facebook in November to object to Liz’s opposition to same-sex marriage, claiming that her sister has previously supported her relationship while saying something very different on the campaign trail.
It’s tempting to think that the “carpetbagger” stuff was determinative, but it was really gay marriage and foreign policy that closed off any possible avenues of insurgent support for Cheney. The main anti-Cheney presence on the Wyoming airwaves was the American Principles Fund, a project of Sarah “daughter of Mike” Huckabee Sanders that reminded voters of how this outsider said one thing about marriage in Wyoming, and another on MSNBC. (Pronounce that call sign the way the cowboys pronounce “New York City?!” in the old salsa ads).
No “Tea Party” challenger (and actually, Cheney was never going to be one of those) has ever won without at least some backing from the religious right. Some have won as hawks, but that was earlier in the Obama era—in 2013 and 2014, Cheney’s quaint support for drone warfare and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan put her in the minority of her party.
It’s tragic, if you’re inclined to see tragedy in the dashed hopes of political scions. Had Cheney just kept up her residence in northern Virginia—had she not moved to Wyoming in 2012—she’d have been well-positioned to run for the House seat held by retiring Rep. Frank Wolf. Instead, by managing to turn a 33-point poll deficit into a 51-point poll deficit simply by being herself, she’s leaving behind nothing but a rich vein of liberal schadenfreude.