Liz Cheney, the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney who last year launched a primary bid against Sen. Mike Enzi that created harsh divisions within the Republican Party, announced abruptly Monday that she will end her campaign, citing health concerns in her family.
“Serious health issues have recently arisen in our family, and under the circumstances, I have decided to discontinue my campaign," Cheney said in a statement. "My children and their futures were the motivation for our campaign and their health and well-being will always be my overriding priority."
She added, "Though this campaign stops today, my commitment to keep fighting with you and your families for the fundamental values that have made this nation and Wyoming great will never stop.”
From the moment she established her candidacy in July, Cheney's campaign was marked by the drama it left in its wake.
In challenging Enzi, who is popular at home, Cheney fractured the tight-knit Wyoming Republican community, which also has strong ties to her father.
"I thought we were friends," Enzi said, memorably, when Liz Cheney announced she would run. His campaign attempted to portray Cheney, who moved to Wyoming after spending most of her life in Virginia, as a carpetbagger.
Cheney charted a path to victory that veered to the right of Enzi ideologically -- and which seemed to glaringly contradict Cheney's past support for her sister, Mary, who is gay. But when asked in November about her views on same-sex marriage, Cheney started a public family feud when she said she supports traditional marriage.
Mary Cheney afterward lashed out at her sister on Facebook, writing, "Liz — this isn't just an issue on which we disagree — you're just wrong — and on the wrong side of history."
Dick Cheney and his wife, Lynne, were compelled to intervene with a statement of their own: “This is an issue we have dealt with privately for many years, and we are pained to see it become public. Since it has, one thing should be clear. Liz has always believed in the traditional definition of marriage.”
Still, with her family's strong political network, Cheney was a formidable candidate on paper, and would have mounted a serious challenge to Enzi.
In her first fundraising quarter as a candidate, Cheney raised more than $1 million -- a respectable sum, and exceeding the $850,000 raised during the same period by Enzi. A super PAC, "Cowboy PAC," was established to bolster Cheney's candidacy further.
Update: Enzi reacted to Cheney's decision later Monday, expressing his "tremendous respect for Liz’s decision."
"She and her entire family are in our thoughts and prayers," Enzi said.