Insurgent tea party traditions that began in 2010 continue in the 2014 elections, as Liz Cheney – daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney – announced Tuesday she is launching a primary challenge against Republican Sen. Mike Enzi of Wyoming.
Cheney, 46, said in a campaign video posted to YouTube that it's time for a new generation of leaders to take office. Enzi, a three-term senator, is 69.
"I'm running because I know as a mother and a patriot we can no longer go along to get along," she said. "I will never compromise when our freedom is at stake."
Cheney's opening salvo took aim at the usual suspects, including high debt and taxes, name checking the federal spending package passed in 2009 known as the stimulus and accused President Barack Obama of launching an "assault on freedom."
Enzi, ranked as one of the most conservative Republicans in the Senate based on his voting record, has been known to work with Democrats on occasion, having helped craft the No Child Left Behind education policy during the George W. Bush administration alongside Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass. He also worked in a bipartisan group of senators attempting to craft health care policy, but this was ultimately abandoned by the Democratic Senate leadership. Along with every other Republican, he opposed the Affordable Care Act, the controversial comprehensive health care law also known as Obamacare.
Cheney, who has also spent time as a Fox News commentator, recently relocated to Wyoming after spending the majority of her life in Virginia. Well aware of the potential charge that she's "from away," Cheney used her campaign launch to highlight the close family ties she has to the state. She informed voters her ancestors first "came here in 1852 in search of religious freedom."
But Cheney, a former State Department official under the most recent Bush administration, smells blood in the water in taking on Enzi. He won his last election in 2008 by wide margins in the conservative Wyoming, which has a population of just 600,000. While Enzi certainly has high name recognition, he doesn't share the other trait important to incumbents – the ability to out-raise challengers.
"Money-raising has always been a problem for me," Enzi said Tuesday, according to The New York Times, and has less than a half million dollars in his campaign war chest.
Cheney, however, will likely be able to tap into top conservative donors nationally, thanks to her father's connections. His time serving as Wyoming's sole House member also helps boost her name recognition despite having never served in office herself.
Democrats, who were benefactors when tea party challengers defeated incumbent Republicans in primaries in the past in more moderate states, such as Delaware in 2010, are not likely to gain in the conservative western state no matter what happens. Republican Mitt Romney trounced President Barack Obama in Wyoming in 2012, winning 69 percent of the vote.
While the Times reports Enzi's Wyoming colleagues, Republicans Sen. John Barrasso and Rep. Cynthia Lummis, both pledged their support for the senior senator, he was still seemed stung by Cheney's announcement.
"I thought we were friends," he said upon hearing the news of Cheney's bid, according to the Times.