By Cameron Joseph - 07/16/13 08:51 PM EDT
Liz Cheney, the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, announced Tuesday she will challenge Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) in 2014, setting up a high-profile GOP primary battle.
“I am running for the United States Senate because I believe deeply in the values that have made our state and our nation great. I’m running because I believe it is necessary for a new generation of leaders to step up to the plate," Cheney said.
"I’m running because I know as a mother and a patriot we can no longer afford simply to go along to get along. We can’t continue business as usual in Washington. I’m running because I know we’re taxed more than enough already.”
She is well-known to national Republican donors, especially those focused on international issues, and, along with conservative commentator Bill Kristol, ran a national security organization called Keep America Safe.
Enzi released his own statement Tuesday afternoon, saying he plans to run for reelection to a fourth term. The senator has long suggested he'd run again, and the statement appeared to be a shot across the bow of his new primary foe.
Speaking to reporters after Cheney's announcement, Enzi sounded wounded about the decision. The senator said considered Cheney a friend and did not expect to face her at the ballot box.
"She said that if I ran she wasn't going to run, but obviously that isn't correct," Enzi said.
"I thought we were friends," he said when asked about their relationship.
He said he wouldn't reconsider his plans to run for reelection, but admitted that "money raising's always been a problem for me" when asked about her fundraising prowess.
Enzi's fundraising struggles continued in the last quarter: he brought in less than $100,000, and has less than $500,000 in the bank for what will likely be a costly race.
Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), standing alongside Enzi, said he'd back the senator.
"Senator Enzi is my friend, he's my mentor, he's a tremendous senator for the people of Wyoming and I plan to support him for reelection, I am supporting him for reelection," he told reporters.
The New York Times reported recently that Cheney had telephoned the GOP senator and told him that she was considering a primary challenge.
She has been highly active in local Republican politics since moving to Wyoming with her family about a year ago, attending a number of events around the state, sometimes with her father by her side.
Enzi said he planned a more formal announcement of his reelection plans in the future.
"In the meantime, I will do the job I was already elected to do. My trips to Wyoming almost weekly, the public listening sessions, the groups I meet with and speak to, working behind the scenes — this is what I have been doing since I was elected and this is what needs to be done," he said in the statement.
The race could break as much on a generational divide as an ideological one.
Both are known as strong conservatives, though Enzi drew criticism from some on the right for his strong support for a law that would allow states to collect a sales tax on out-of-state Internet purchases.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee has already announced it will back Enzi in the primary, though it’s unlikely it will spend heavily on a race in which either Republican is likely to win the general election.
—This report was last updated at 6:14 p.m.
- This story was updated on July 17 to reflect that Cheney is no longer a Fox News commentator. Fox News announced it had terminated her contract after she announced her campaign.