CREDIT: AP Photo/Cliff Owen
Liz Cheney, a former George W. Bush administration state department official and daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, announced Monday that she will end her primary challenge to Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY), a third-term Senator who ranked as the eighth most conservative member of the Senate in 2012. In a statement, Cheney said that “serious health issues have recently arisen in our family, and under the circumstances, I have decided to discontinue my campaign.”
Her less-than-five-month campaign was plagued by poor press and political missteps. Here’s a look back at the worst of them:
1. Kicked off her campaign with an ageist attack on incumbent Senator Mike Enzi (R): In a July letter to Wyoming voters, she said she was running because she believed it “necessary for a new generation of leaders to step up to the plate.” This was generational swipe at Enzi’s age: he is 69, she is 47. Enzi responded to the announcement by claiming Cheney had promised him she would only run if he retired, lamenting, “I thought we were friends.” Cheney denied making the promise. Rep. Cynthia Lummis (R), Wyoming’s sole U.S. Representative, called Cheney’s move “bad form” and suggested she run in Virginia — a clear dig at Cheney’s 2012 move to the Equality State.
2. Caught filing a false application for a fishing license: In August, the Casper Star-Tribune reported that Cheney received a Wyoming fishing license earlier than she should have been able to, not having been a year-long resident. Though Cheney claimed that the clerk must have made a mistake in listing her as a 10-year resident of the the state, she paid a $220 bond later that month, covering a fine and court costs for the charge of making a false statement to procure a fishing license.
3. Denied claims that she supported abortion and same-sex marriage: After a reported “push poll” in Wyoming told voters that Cheney “supports abortion and aggressively promotes gay marriage,” she put out a statement in August claiming, “I am strongly pro-life and I am not pro-gay marriage.” This seemed to contradict her her 2009 statement that “Freedom means freedom for everybody.” Cheney’s campaign accused the Enzi camp of running the push poll — a charge Enzi’s spokesman denied. The National Republican Senatorial Committee, the campaign arm of the Senate GOP, backed Enzi and its press secretary joked that “With all due respect, it looks like Liz Cheney is fishing without a license again.”
4. Took her campaign woes out on the media: Cheney slammed the local media’s coverage of her campaign in a September speech. Calling out by name the paper that had reported her $220 bond the previous month, she observed, “Newspapers are dying, and that’s not a bad thing.”
5. Attacked by a socially conservative super PAC for not being anti-LGBT enough: A socially conservative super PAC called the American Principles Fund, heavily bankrolled by hedge fund investor Sean Fieler, launched a 30-second TV ad in October called “Wrong For Wyoming,” attacking Cheney for her appearances on MSNBC, her opposition to a federal marriage amendment, and her support for domestic partnership benefits.
6. Got into spat with her lesbian sister and sister-in-law over same-sex marriage: Cheney doubled down on her opposition to same-sex marriage, telling Fox News Sunday in November that while she supports some benefits for same-sex couples, she supports the “traditional definition of marriage.” Her sister Mary’s wife, Heather Poe, posted a Facebook message later that day slamming the comments and saying she was “very disappointed.” Mary Cheney shared Poe’s post and responded, “Couldn’t have said it better myself. Liz – this isn’t just an issue on which we disagree – you’re just wrong – and on the wrong side of history.” Mary Cheney told the New York Times that she would not be seeing Liz at the family’s Christmas gathering. Shortly after, Cheney’s parents, Lynne and former Vice President Dick Cheney, released a statement seemingly siding with Liz in the spat, affirming that she “has always believed in the traditional definition of marriage” and praising her for treating Mary and her family “with love and respect.” They also wrote that Liz’s “many kindnesses shouldn’t be used to distort her position.” Mary Cheney then told Politco Magazine that she is “not supporting Liz’s candidacy.”
7. Her husband was caught being registered to vote in two states: Politico reported that Cheney’s husband, Phil Perry, had been registered to vote in both Virginia and Wyoming for the past nine months, “even though he signed a document in Wyoming saying he was not registered elsewhere.” After questions arose, Perry notified the Wyoming clerk of the error and requested that his Virginia registration be cancelled. The campaign released a statement claiming, “Phil believed he was no longer registered in Virginia and did not vote there. When he realized he was still on the Virginia rolls, he immediately corrected that.”
Polling was also a problem throughout Cheney’s short candidacy. A July PPP poll found her badly trailing Enzi in a primary match-up, 54 percent to 26 percent — and a November internal poll for an anti-Cheney super PAC found her down by 52 points, 69 percent to 17 percent. Cheney’s campaign claimed that the race was tightening, but did not release any numbers showing that.