Liz Cheney has puzzled many political observers by challenging sitting Republican Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo. who announced Tuesday that he would be running for a fourth term.
Cheney explained why she was running in a recent television interview with a local CBS news affiliate.
“I think it’s time for a new generation,” Cheney said. “And what I plan to do over the course of this campaign is lay out what I think we need – somebody in Washington who will stand up and fight.”
During the interview, Cheney ignored the idea that she was challenging Enzi because he wasn’t conservative enough, focusing instead on the tone she wanted to bring to the Senate.
The message was clear: Cheney wants to be a fighter who will upset the status quo in Washington.
“I think if we don’t stand up and fight, and say enough is enough, we aren’t going along to get along with a very dangerous set of policies then it could be a very bad situation for the nation,” Cheney said, calling for a change to “business as usual” in Washington.
Cheney’s rhetoric is typical for a candidate challenging a long-term incumbent – but it’s also symbolic of the Tea Party rhetoric that fueled the rise of Sens. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, Rand Paul, R-Ky., and Marco Rubio, R-Fla., against the Republican establishment candidates.
A lot of Cheney’s success will depend on whether she can brand herself as a ‘Tea Party’ candidate – in spite of her father’s reputation.
Cruz won his Texas primary by promising Texans to shake up Washington and challenge the status quo. He has not only kept his promise, but has won a great deal of respect and admiration from conservatives for his principled stand.
Cheney’s candidacy appears to offer Wyomingites a choice: Do they want their own conservative star rattling the cages in Washington? Or do they want to stick with Enzi’s respectful but principled relationship with his Senate colleagues.
After four years of President Obama, Wyoming conservative voters might be looking for someone less polite.