Liz Cheney Exits Wyoming Senate Race

Liz Cheney and Mike Enzi sparring is over for now.

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Liz Cheney speaks during a campaign appearance in Casper, Wyoming, Wednesday, July 17, 2013. Cheney recently announced her decision to back out of the Senate race against Republican incumbent Sen. Mike Enzi.

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After a wild ride in the Cowboy State, Liz Cheney announced she would drop out of the Republican Party Senate primary in Wyoming Monday morning.

The news is a sudden shift in one of the country's most watched primaries where the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney was waging a bitter campaign against one of the country's most conservative lawmakers on Capitol Hill, Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo.

While the news broke on CNN Sunday night, Cheney cited family health problems as her reason for exiting the race in an announcement Monday.

[READ: Liz Cheney Senate Ad Touts 'Deep Roots' in Wyoming]

"Serious health issues have recently arisen in our family, and under the circumstances, I have decided to discontinue my campaign," Cheney, 47, announced in a statement. "My children and their futures were the motivation for our campaign and their health and well-being will always be my overriding priority."

While Cheney had hired some of Washington's best Republican strategists to lead her campaign out west and outraised Enzi in her first fundraising quarter, she had lagged far behind in the polls. The most recent survey found Enzi was up 53 points on Cheney.

In addition to being a longshot, Cheney's entrance into the Republican primary against Enzi was ripping the state's dominant party in two.

State party officials and lawmakers like former Sen. Alan Simpson, R-Wyo., said it had become ugly fast. Drama between the Simpsons and Cheneys even spilled into national headlines.

[READ: In Wyoming Senate Primary, a Contest of Enzi and Cheney’s Roots]

One of Cheney's biggest hurdles during her campaign for the Senate seat was her long absence from Wyoming. Cheney had not lived in the state most of her adult life. In fact, she had lived in the Washington suburbs and moved to Wyoming just months before announcing her bid for Senate. For a state that prides itself on roots, Cheney's move left her fighting against carpetbagging charges.

Cheney's run for Senate not only left a public rift amongst party officials, but her own family was divided over her campaign as well. As Cheney fought against critics who believed she had been too soft on the issue of gay marriage in the past, Cheney reiterated her belief that marriage should exist solely between a man and a woman. Her public stance aggravated her sister Mary Cheney, a lesbian, who sparred publicly with Liz Cheney regarding the comments.

[ALSO: Cheney Family Feud Over Gay Marriage Escalates]

In the end, Cheney's exit from the race came as suddenly as her entrance had. Cheney is not, however, closing the door on politics forever, nor is she distancing herself from her family's brand of conservatism.

"As a mother and a patriot, I know that the work of defending freedom and protecting liberty must continue for each generation. Though this campaign stops today, my commitment to keep fighting with you and your families for the fundamental values that have made this nation and Wyoming great will never stop," Cheney said in her statement.

 

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