America's Next Top Political Dynasty: The Cheneys?

Liz Cheney, daughter of Dick and Lynne, announced Tuesday that she will challenge incumbent Republican Mike Enzi for a U.S. Senate seat in Wyoming.
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Liz Cheney, left, with her father, husband, and children at the 2004 Republican National Convention. (Mike Segar/Reuters)

The Bushes. The Clintons. Now, the Cheneys hope to be the new political dynasty on the block.

On Tuesday, Liz Cheney issued a statement saying she will run for the Senate seat from Wyoming in 2014. Her statement came just minutes after the man holding that seat, Republican Senator Mike Enzi, announced he would seek a fourth term. The two will now likely meet in a GOP primary next year.

Earlier this month, The New York Times' Jonathan Martin reported that this move could be coming. As Martin reported, it's not that Enzi even has aparticularly bad relationship with the Cheneys: The senator refers to the former vice president as a "good friend." But Dick Cheney, who started out in politics in Wyoming, so far seems to be aggressively backing his daughter's campaign.

According to Martin, the former vice president has "relied heavily" on Liz Cheney since leaving the White House -- including for help in writing his memoir. And in recent months, he has pumped up his daughter's potential candidacy with national Republican donors and has been more publicly wading into Wyoming's political world.

Liz Cheney, according to Martin, is expected to paint Enzi as being too eager to compromise and not eager enough to push conservative causes. According to National Journal's vote rankings, Enzi was the eighth-most-conservative senator in 2012.

So far, Republicans aren't proving ready to flee Enzi for Cheney. That's as true for Republicans in Wyoming as it is nationally. Last week, Senator Rand Paul called Enzi a "good conservative," telling Politico that Enzi would have his not-insubstantial support. Paul also expressed some skepticism about Liz Cheney, saying he doesn't "know much about her or her politics."

As for Enzi? In a statement, he said that Liz Cheney had told him that if he ran, she wouldn't run: "I thought we were friends."

But Liz Cheney has not just been content to live in her father's shadow. Aside from serving in the Bush State Department and being otherwise active in Republican politics, she's been outspoken on politics, both as a commentator on Fox News and in her own right. In a March Wall Street Journal op-ed, she wrote that President Obama is "the most radical man to ever occupy the Oval Office" and that Republicans "are all that stands between this president's policies and a damaged and diminished America." In the same op-ed, she disparaged the idea that Republicans need to moderate their views, writing "we know that preventing this president from enacting devastating policies is not obstructionism. It is patriotism."

There is one issue that will be interesting to watch Liz Cheney's position. In 2009, her father voiced his support for same-sex marriage:

Well, I think that freedom means freedom for everyone. As many of you know, one of my daughters is gay, and it is something that, uh, we have lived with for a long time, in our family. I think people ought to be free to enter into any kind of union they wish. Any kind of arrangement they wish. The question of whether or not there ought to be a federal statute that governs this, I don't support. I do believe that historically the way marriage has been regulated is at the state level. It has always been a state issue, and I think that's the way it ought to be handled today, that is on a state-by-state basis. Different states will make different decisions. But I don't have any problem with that. I think people ought to get a shot at that.

That kind of position is relatively rare for a member of the Republican Party, especially in the Senate. However, it's also one that so far seems to be shared by Liz Cheney, who backed the idea that "freedom means freedom for everybody" and that the decision should be decided by the states in a 2009 MSNBC interview.

They may not be the Clintons, but the budding attempt at a Cheney dynasty will definitely be interesting to watch in the coming months.

Here is Liz Cheney's announcement video:

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Matt Berman is an online editor at National Journal.

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