Liz Cheney decides against Senate bid in Wyoming

Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), the No. 3 Republican in the House, informed her colleagues on Thursday that she will not launch a bid for Wyoming’s open Senate seat, choosing instead to remain in the House, according to sources.

Cheney’s decision comes after months of speculation over whether she would throw her hat in the Senate race after Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) announced in May he would retire after more than two decades in Congress.

The Wyoming Republican cited Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiRepublicans will pay on Election Day for politicizing Trump's impeachment Trump chooses high-profile but controversial legal team Trump: Impeachment timing intended to hurt Sanders MORE (D-Calif.) and “socialist Democrats” as her reasoning for staying in the lower chamber.

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“Nancy Pelosi and the Socialist Democrats in the House of Representatives are threatening our freedom and our Wyoming values every day. They must be stopped. Our nation is facing grave security challenges overseas and the House Democrats are working to weaken our president and embolden our enemies. Socialists in Congress and among the presidential candidates are threatening our liberty and freedom," she said in a statement. 

"I believe I can have the biggest impact for the people of Wyoming by remaining in leadership in the House of Representatives and working to take our Republican majority back. I will not be running for the Senate in 2020. I plan to seek re-election to the House of Representatives.”

Cheney, the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, would have been an overwhelming front-runner for the Senate seat.

But sources in the House noted she is also seen by many as being well-positioned to become the first female Republican Speaker.

She has proven herself to be a proficient fundraiser and has held a sizable number of events for other members — moves that could provide her with critical allies is she chooses to attempt to climb the leadership ladder during the 117th Congress.

The Wyoming Republican has experienced a rapid rise in the House. The two-term congresswoman was elected to serve as the House Republican Conference chairwoman in 2018 — a position once held by her father that is responsible for helping lead the party’s messaging efforts in the lower chamber.

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Cheney has also been at the forefront of helping lead the conference's messaging pushing back against impeachment. Some have speculated that her close working relationship with key administration officials including the president could also help her continue her rise in the House. 

Cheney previously attempted to challenge Enzi in a primary in 2014 before ultimately dropping her bid. A Senate perch would have allowed her to play a more pivotal role in defense and foreign policy, two areas where she has become a leading GOP spokesperson.

But running for Senate would also have meant forgoing a higher position in the lower chamber, and she would have been expected to relinquish her current posts in the lower chamber given that House Republican conference rules mandate lawmakers relinquish their leadership and committee chairs once they announce a bid for higher office.

Her choice to remain in the House likely comes as a relief for many Republicans looking to reverse the declining number of female lawmakers in the party. Cheney is currently one of 13 GOP women in the lower chamber, and two of her female colleagues have announced they won’t seek reelection. 

Cheney has grown to be a key voice within the House GOP on foreign policy, notably having been one of the most vocal opponents of Trump’s decision to pull troops out of Syria ahead of a planned incursion by Turkey. 

Her decision comes despite polling showing her with a double-digit advantage over former Rep. Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.) in the Wyoming GOP Senate primary.

Lummis is a favorite amongst the conservative faction of the party, and she announced her bid earlier this year for a seat rated as "solid Republican" by the Cook Political Report.

Scott Wong contributed to this report which was updated at 10:18 a.m.