Wyoming’s senior U.S. senator, Mike Enzi, prefers to stay out of the spotlight, but Liz Cheney’s announcement that she plans to run for his Senate seat has thrust the three-term incumbent into election mode 13 months before the primary.

“Wyoming people don’t like long campaigns,” Enzi said in a press release Thursday.

The comment is a jab at Cheney’s announcement on Tuesday, but in an era when candidates who collect the most money tend to win elections, Enzi will have to start campaigning earlier than he expected to if he wants to raise enough cash to compete with Cheney’s expected fundraising prowess.

Cheney has equipped herself with a longstanding player in the GOP fundraising establishment.

One of her closest aides is Kara Ahern, a veteran campaign cash collector who worked on President George W. Bush’s 2004 campaign and with the Republican National Committee during the 2008 presidential election.

In Enzi’s last re-election run, the senator collected $1.6 million for his campaign. The nation’s politicos are expecting that number to more than double during the race against Cheney.

But for Enzi backers, the size of his campaign coffers matters least in the race.

Service to Wyoming matters most for Enzi, said Liz Brimmer, a political consultant in Jackson. How much money he raises won’t matter, she said.

Unlike Cheney, she said, Enzi has been a mayor, volunteer, business owner and lawmaker who has made a lifelong commitment to the people of Wyoming.

“There’s a high standard of what Wyoming voters expect from elected people,” she said.

The senator is still tasked with serving the people of Wyoming during what is shaping up to be one of the most high-profile primary races in the nation.

“I’m ready to start another run, and right now my job is to serve Wyoming people,” he said. “I will continue to concentrate full time on the job folks already elected me to do. … We are facing many critical issues this year including the train wreck that is Obamacare, a deficit that must be brought under control, a misguided energy policy and an attack on our Second Amendment rights to name a few.”

In the past year, the senator has consistently voted for or authored bills that would protect the Second Amendment and the state’s energy industry. He gave the weekly GOP address last week and said the Affordable Care Act needs to be repealed because more than 150 new agencies and boards haven’t been able to figure out how to make the 20,000-page law work.

Pundits from all over the state are worrying that the contest between the senior senator and the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney will cause a rift among Republicans in the state. Cheney is expected to portray herself as the more conservative candidate, even though Enzi has been ranked as one of the most right-leaning senators in Congress. Former U.S. Sen. Al Simpson told the New York Times that a race between the two would be a “disaster” and the head of the political science department the University of Wyoming, James King, said that the primary race will cause a split in the party.

But Enzi is confident that his longtime base will continue to back him.

“I believe many who have helped me get elected before will help again,” he said. “I appreciate the many calls and emails my family and I have received in the last few days. So many people are telling us they remain committed to me and will do whatever they can to see that I can continue to faithfully represent them.”

Enzi’s biggest advantage is that he was born and raised in Wyoming. Cheney is already facing accusations that she is a carpetbagger who moved to Wyoming just to win a seat in the Senate.

Cheney branded the label as grist for people who don’t want to talk about political “substance.”

“I’m committed to running a campaign based on issues and substance,” Cheney said Thursday. “Wyoming is a special place where democracy is done the way it should be: person-to-person, one vote at a time. That is the kind of campaign I am running.”

Brimmer said Cheney’s early announcement will give her time to re-acclimate to Wyoming after years living out of state.

“Wyoming welcomes new people,” she said, “but they don’t traditionally elect them to higher offices.”

(13) comments

irdrmr
irdrmr

Wyoming people don't like "career politicians" either especially if they work for big oil.

Wyoite
Wyoite

Enzi doesn't need to, and shouldn't, engage in a debate or fundraising race.

Just put his name on the ballot with his record and he will beat this carpetbagger by 40 points. This is only a race to the extent the press wants to drum it up- in reality the gentlelady from Virginia doesn't have a prayer, despite cash flowing in from out of state sources.

Wyoming elections can be bought- but not by out of state candidates and interests.

Thorofare
Thorofare

This primary is distressing to many of us. Many had hoped that Ms. Cheney would have had the good grace to await her time, and meanwhile undertake some effort to establish her credibility here. Just purchasing a home in Jackson Hole doesn't make her a resident; if she
had disposed of her home back East and enrolled her children in Wyoming schools, she would have made a better case for herself. This is troubling for those of us who have been friends and admirers of her father, and for those of us who have been admirers of Sen.
Enzi. She doesn't bring as much to the table as she asks us to leave on our plates -- the great contributions that have been made by Senator Enzi to Wyoming. While Ms. Cheney has something to offer at some future time, I hope that her raw ambition will not carry the day against a U. S. Senator who has rewarded Wyoming voters with all we could have asked for: an attention to Wyoming's needs, an open ear and an open office door, and an understanding of the difficult issues dealt by working people, industry, agriculture, the environment, and the economy. He has brought to the job kindness and compassion for the less fortunate, and long days spent working on the problems of Wyoming and America.

Wyoite
Wyoite

Very well said. She must first know the difference between a rodeo and rodeo drive. Nobody has seen Liz and her family around here. I'd like a reporter ask her exactly how many days, over the last 20 years, has she been in Wyoming. I'd bet it's less than 75, or about 1% of her time.

Seek first to understand- then to be understood. -Proverbs

side oiler
side oiler

Nothing else could be expected from the likes of her pops,after all look how he weaseled his way into the VP under the Bush regime.

supercelifragilistic
supercelifragilistic

My question to Mike is, "what were you thinking to not ask Wyomingites that vote about your internet tax, first"? Your actions were similarly reflective of Obama's, with acting without approval.

Sassy
Sassy

Super

Excellent point....

James68
James68

Cheney claims she is out to improve the party as she claims, then I would suggest to her that she runs in Virginia where she is truly from and her money is needed because it is an east coast race. But it appears instead she is only out to improve herself, not the party.
Please Liz, as I was told many times growing up, don't pee on my leg and tell me its raining. Go back east, we know you will fit in better with that crowd anyway.

just sayin'
just sayin'

"Instead of cutting deals with the presidents liberal allies, we should be opposing them every step of the way", Liz Cheney.
Well, thank you for being part of the problem instead of part of the solution. Just sounds like more ignorance in Washington to me.

ARMY RANGER
ARMY RANGER

Sen. Enzi = The unheard of Senator from Wyoming. After all these years tell me again what Enzi's accomplishments are.

strool35
strool35

Enzi is starting to look like a lap dog for obama, time for him to go.

Brett Glass
Brett Glass

If Cheney keeps trying to tax the Internet, he won't have a base and Cheney will win.

Big Evan Diehl
Big Evan Diehl

I'm not a fan of political dynasties, whether it's the Bush's, the Clinton's or the Cheney's. There are lots of good candidates out there. We can do better than to elect the relative of someone based on nothing but name recognition.

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