Three years after Liz Cheney clashed with fellow Republicans by launching a troubled and short-lived campaign against a popular and long-serving U.S. senator, she’s looking to win her father’s former post as Wyoming’s lone U.S. representative.
A Democrat has not served as Wyoming’s congressman since before Dick Cheney first won the job in 1978. Wyoming is even more Republican now. That gives Liz Cheney a party identification advantage in her race against Democrat Ryan Greene on Nov. 8.
She’s also raised vastly more money. As of Sept. 30, Cheney had about $352,000 left to spend. Greene had just $13,400.
Most of Cheney’s donations have come from outside Wyoming, a fact Greene often points out and spun by Cheney as a sign of wide influence and support. Cheney often describes herself as having the profile needed to change the federal policies she says cause big problems for Wyoming’s energy and agriculture industries.
“I am the only candidate on this stage who will be able to get a national focus and national attention on our issues,” she said in a debate last week.
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Greene and Cheney are competing to replace Republican Rep. Cynthia Lummis, who will retire after four terms.
Men substantially outnumber women in Wyoming politics, but Cheney could be Wyoming’s third congresswoman in a row since Republican Rep. Barbara Cubin became the first woman to win federal office in Wyoming in 1994.
Greene works in a Rock Springs oil field services company started by his family. Neither he nor Cheney has held office before, but Cheney is famous as a former Fox News commentator and daughter of the former vice president.
Cheney also has worked in the State Department and made foreign policy a staple of her campaign, heavily criticizing Obama administration policy in the Middle East.
Railing against federal regulations is another crowd-pleasing tactic in Wyoming, the top coal-producing state. Cheney blames too much regulation for hard times for coal, which also has struggled with competition from cheaper natural gas as a fuel for generating electricity.
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“We’re the target here in Wyoming of a war on coal. And a war on fossil fuels is coming,” Cheney said at Thursday’s debate.
Democrats in Wyoming tend to be far more conservative than Democrats elsewhere. Greene describes himself as a supporter of the coal, oil and natural gas industries who favors practical solutions over sweeping changes.
“Folks, there’s enough chaos in Congress,” Greene said at the debate. “Wyoming doesn’t need to contribute to it. We don’t need a bomb-thrower or a flame-thrower in the U.S. House. We need a persuader, a worker, because at the end of the day we’re not going to agree on everything.”
Greene told The Associated Press on Oct. 10 that he had not made up his mind between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, saying neither had earned his vote. He endorsed Clinton a week later and was quickly criticized by Cheney, who suggested Greene was more liberal than he had let on.
“He caucused with Bernie Sanders and he said that Sanders’ socialist way of thinking is a way forward for Wyoming,” Cheney told the debate audience. “And now he endorses Hillary Clinton.”
Greene accuses Cheney of carpetbagging.
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She faced criticism for running against Sen. Mike Enzi in 2013, barely a year after she moved to Jackson Hole from Virginia. A series of high-profile distractions, including a ticket for fishing with an improper license and a spat with her gay sister over same-sex marriage, also plagued her campaign.
Cheney quit her Senate run in early 2014, seven months before the primary.
“Ms. Cheney is long on political ambition but short on Wyoming experience,” Greene said.
This time around, Cheney has secured essentially every noteworthy endorsement in the state — the Wyoming Stock Growers Association, Petroleum Association of Wyoming, Wyoming Mining Association. She’s also backed by Enzi.
Greene’s supporters include Dave Freudenthal, Wyoming’s Democratic governor from 2003-2011.