The announced retirement of Wyoming GOP Sen. Mike Enzi this weekend clears the decks for Liz Cheney, daughter of former VP Dick Cheney, to take up her dad's old Senate seat for essentially a lifetime appointment.
Wyoming Sen. Mike Enzi will not run for reelection next year, the four-term Republican senator said on Saturday.
The 75-year-old Senate Budget Committee chairman announced his retirement in Gillette, Wyo., where he used to be mayor. The low-key Wyomingite said he wants to focus on budget reform.
“I don't want to be burdened by the distractions of another campaign,” Enzi said, according to the Casper Tribune.
Senate Republicans have been closely watching Enzi, figuring he may decide to call it quits after 24 years in the Senate, but most were unaware of his weekend plans. Enzi's office did not respond to requests for comment on Saturday morning ahead of the announcement.
Enzi is among the least flashy personalities in the Capitol. He often literally keeps his head down, immersed in either thought or reading, typically wielding an e-reader device.
He frequently ignores reporters to go about his day, which is likely focused on cutting spending and balancing the budget. He posts often about the “penny plan,” which would reduce spending by 1 percent each year. Enzi is term-limited from serving as budget chairman after next year.
Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), who threatened Enzi with a primary challenge in 2014, praised him on Saturday for “fighting for a smaller, less obstructive, and more efficient federal government that would allow people to grow and thrive.” Her statement did not address whether she will run to succeed Enzi.
The Senate field is likely to be frozen until Cheney — already a statewide elected official — makes a decision. What she decides to do has outsized impact on House Republican politics, as well. If she runs for the Senate, it will remove a potential threat to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.). If she decides to stay in the House, it's a sign she is interested in moving up in House Republican leadership in the coming years.
I will be utterly shocked if Cheney passes this up. Like Enzi, she could easily spend a comfortable quarter-century in the Senate rather than struggling with constant campaigning and the GOP House clowns. Unlike McCarthy, Mitch McConnell actually knows what he's doing.
Cheney could still decide not to go after Enzi's seat, but, you know, she already tried to primary him once.
Things will probably move quickly here. We're not done with Liz by a long shot.