With barely enough time for Liz Cheney to unpack her carpetbag, the Wyoming Senate race is heating up.
Cheney announced this summer that she would mount a primary challenge against three-term Republican incumbent Mike Enzi. Almost immediately, her connection to Wyoming became a point of contention in the race.
Born in Wisconsin and raised in Virginia, Cheney has faced accusations of being a carpetbagger by groups like the American Principles Fund, a conservative political action committee. An ad sponsored by the American Principles Fund claims Cheney is “wrong for Wyoming.”
Cheney also faced an embarrassing sequence of events this fall when it was exposed that she illegally obtained a state resident fishing license. Under Wyoming law, state resident fishing licenses are given after a person has lived in the state for a full year. Cheney had only lived in Wyoming for 72 days when she obtained the license, but her application for the license claimed she was a 10-year resident. “The clerk must have made a mistake. I never claimed to be a 10-year resident,” she said about the license.
The effort by conservative PACs appears to be paying off: Cheney is sinking in the polls, and her favorability rating is dropping. A recent survey shows her trailing Enzi by a staggering 52 points (69 percent to 17 percent). Moreover, at the end of October Cheney was viewed unfavorably by 37 percent of likely voters and favorably by just 29 percent. Her favorability was much higher in the summer: 42 percent of likely primary voters viewed her favorably and 24 percent viewed her unfavorably just a few months ago.
To be fair, the polls may overestimate just how poorly Cheney is polling in the race. For starters, in a state like Wyoming, which has a tiny primary electorate, it’s a challenge to find an accurate sample. Also, the survey was conducted by Bob Wickers of the Wickers Group, who actively opposes Cheney. “This is the same firm that had David Dewhurst leading Ted Cruz 51-16 a few weeks out,” Cheney’s communications director told Politico.
Nevertheless, it appears the Cheney campaign has taken note of her sliding poll numbers and the charges lodged against her. They’ve gone negative, attacking Enzi on his age. “I’m running for the United States Senate because it’s time for a new generation of leaders to step up to the plate,” Cheney says in a new ad.
She also sought to put to rest the issue of her connection to Wyoming in the same ad, which shows her sitting next to her father — who is wearing a cowboy hat — as well as her daughter riding a horse. She also celebrates her children as “fifth-generation Wyomingites” in the ad.
The campaign has reserved $55,838 in airtime to run the ad, primarily in the Casper market, where she lived for a few years growing up.