Liz Cheney's uphill, but not yet impossible, battle

Now that the dust is starting to settle from Liz Cheney announcing her candidacy for the Republican nomination for United States Senator in Wyoming, we are starting to understand the slope of Liz’s uphill battle. It is actually quite steep. Clearly, Liz Cheney is the underdog in her challenge to defeat three-term U.S. Senator Mike Enzi in the Wyoming primary.

A poll that I blogged about Friday, July 19 (here) shows Sen. Mike Enzi with a 34 point lead against Liz Cheney (55-21). Additionally, Enzi’s image is substantially better than Cheney’s and even marginally better than the former Vice President’s. In a nut shell, Liz Cheney has decided to run against the one man in Wyoming who is more popular than her father.

While the fat lady may be making preparations to begin her vocal warm up, this race is not yet over. Enzi’s ‘hard re-elect’ among Republicans stands at only 48%. 28% say it is time to give someone else a chance, and the balance want to see the differences between the candidates before they commit to either one. With that in mind, here are some things Liz Cheney needs to concentrate on immediately.

First, Image:

Liz Cheney actually starts off the race with a very good image for someone who is new to electoral politics in Wyoming. Her approval among Republicans is in the high 40s. If she were in a race for an open Congressional seat (now occupied by U.S. Rep. Cynthia Lummis), Ms. Cheney would begin the race as the frontrunner. (BTW, there is no open seat race in Wyoming in 2014). While her image is nowhere close to Enzi’s, it doesn’t need to be this year. She just needs to get her approval rating much closer to that of Enzi’s (76%).

To do that, she needs to make it clear to the people of Wyoming that she is in this race for Wyoming and not for herself. Is there a person in America who believes that if Liz Cheney wins her eyes will not immediately affix to the White House? Of course not. But that doesn’t mean she can’t convince the people of Wyoming she is in this race for them.

For example, she could propose specific policies that would rekindle the coal industry in Wyoming, expand oil and natural gas exploration, expand uranium and lithium mining, and take a hard stand against energy sources that cannot be profitable without substantial government subsidies (ethanol and wind, just to name a couple). In addition, she could propose policies that would end up bolstering Wyoming’s tourism industry; such as catching up on maintenance at Yellowstone National Park, and keeping Yellowstone open to winter activities such as snowmobiling. Let her also not forget about Wyoming’s water issues and helping Wyoming keep our own water instead of being forced to send it down river to states that are not entitled to it.

While these are not sexy national issues, these are huge issues in Wyoming in which all residents end up being impacted.

Second, Endorsements and organization

Liz Cheney is already playing the endorsements game. She has been endorsed by our own EE, Mark Levin, Sean Hannity, Jennifer Rubin of the WaPo, and had a glowing reception from the Maha Rushie himself. What do all of these folks have in common? Not a one is from Wyoming.

Specifically, Liz Cheney needs prominent Wyomingites to come out for her. Forget the non-Wyoming endorsements and focus on getting people in Wyoming to endorse her. It doesn’t really matter if the Wyoming people are known nationally or not. Heck, it doesn’t even matter if they are known state-wide.

The benefit to getting Wyoming people to endorse Liz Cheney is two-fold; first, it blunts this. Second, it is the beginning of a state-wide organization, without which she has no chance.

Third, Raise money in Wyoming

Liz Cheney needs lots of money. It would be nice if she could raise money in Wyoming, even if it is in small dollar amounts. I imagine most of the money Liz Cheney raises will come from outside Wyoming. That’s fine. Campaigns need money. However, she needs to be able to blunt the ‘carpetbagger’ argument and it will only be bolstered if she can’t raise money inside the state. She can forget industry PAC money (they are all with Enzi) and shouldn’t count on outside groups either. As a matter of fact, third-party, out of state groups spending money in Wyoming to attack Mike Enzi on her behalf would probably backfire. See Karl Rove’s comments on this here. On this, I wholeheartedly agree with Karl.

Liz Cheney is facing a rather steep uphill battle to unseat Sen. Mike Enzi. However, her goose is not cooked . . . yet. If she can move the needle on her own image this year and credibly demonstrate to Wyomingites that she is in the race for Wyoming, build a state-wide organization, and raise some money from her home state (if you are confused which state that would be, you are not alone and I am talking about Wyoming), then that gets her to the next round.

As far as Liz Cheney is concerned, she should concentrate on getting to the next round. The next round is tougher. Unless she can demonstrate strength inside Wyoming, and do it rather quickly, fighting the next round will not be worth it for her.

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