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Liz Cheney running for House slot, joining big GOP; field

Jan 31, 2016 By Mead Gruver, The Associated Press

The elder daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney is running for Congress, following up a failed U.S. Senate campaign two years ago with another attempt to woo voters in a state where she has been a full-time resident for only a few years.

Liz Cheney filed federal election documents Friday showing she's running for Wyoming's lone seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Campaign officials said she plans to formally announce Monday in Gillette, a town hit hard by a downturn in the state's coal industry.

Her plans suggest she will base her campaign on fears that the Obama administration is waging a "war on coal" with climate-change regulations and a recently announced moratorium on federal coal leasing.

Cheney couldn't immediately be reached for comment, waiting until her formal announcement Monday to speak publicly.

"I can't say that I'm surprised," fellow candidate State Rep. Tim Stubson said Saturday of Cheney's entry. "We know that she brings with her kind of a big Washington machine and lots of national money, which certainly changes the complexion of the race."

Cheney, 49, ran a brief and ill-fated U.S. Senate campaign in 2013. She tried to unseat Wyoming senior U.S. Sen. Mike Enzi, a fellow Republican, but failed to gain traction among Wyoming's political establishment. The former Fox News commentator drew considerable nationwide attention but virtually no mainstream Republicans in the state endorsed her -- despite the fact that the GOP dominates Wyoming politics at every level.

Many expressed skepticism that somebody who had moved to Wyoming only recently could know and serve the rural frontier state well.

Enzi's popularity, meanwhile, remained high despite Cheney's attempts to portray him as too willing to compromise with Democrats.

Still, Cheney's close to $2 million in fundraising was impressive for the least-populated state.

Cheney quit her Senate campaign seven months before the 2014 primary, citing family health issues.

She has five children and lives in Jackson, a wealthy resort town at the gateway to Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks, where she moved in 2012.

This time, Cheney seeks to replace Republican Rep. Cynthia Lummis, who plans to retire at the end of her current term. Lummis is the only female member of the Freedom Caucus, a conservative band of lawmakers who have pushed for confrontation with Democrats at every turn.

Lummis, whose husband died days before the 2014 election, cited confidence in new House Speaker Paul Ryan's ability to advance conservative legislation in her November announcement of her retirement after four terms.

Cheney faces eight Republican competitors including two experienced Wyoming state legislators, Stubson and State Sen. Leland Christensen. All eight took part in a debate Jan. 23 in Worland, Wyoming, while Cheney, despite rumors she would run, was noticeably absent.

Cheney and her father were scheduled to speak at a presidential candidates' town hall in Nashua, New Hampshire, that day but had to cancel because of the weather.

Stubson already has been campaigning on concerns about the ongoing viability of fossil-fuel extraction in Wyoming, which supplies about 40 percent of the nation's coal.

"A big part of our message is the need to really defend Wyoming's problems with Wyoming's solutions, and to ensure that federal action doesn't prohibit us from utilizing our resources," he said.

Wyoming has been fielding an increasingly thin crop of Democratic candidates for federal office in recent years. The only Democratic candidate for U.S. House in 2014 was an Arizona resident who didn't campaign in the state.

That didn't stop state Democratic Party leader Ana Cuprill from blasting Cheney's U.S. House candidacy.

"Liz Cheney is only interested in being a Wyomingite when it is politically expedient to her ambitions," Cuprill said Saturday.

"If she is so interested to return to the East Coast, she could just as easily return to her home in Virginia."

"We know what Cheney leadership means - fear-mongering and abusing the political system for personal gain to the tune of taxpayer dollars. Regardless of political affiliation we are blessed to be living in a beautiful state and we deserve to have real Wyoming representation, not East Coast entitlement... It takes more than just a last name to win the respect of the voters."

The official filing period for the office isn't until May. Wyoming's primary election is Aug. 16.

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