REPORTERS NOTEBOOK: LIZ CHENEY ABANDONS WYOMING SENATE RUN

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Liz Cheney is dropping out of the Senate primary after her upstart bid to unseat Wyoming Senator Mike Enzi ignited a war within the Republican Party and caused a feud with her lesbian sister. Ms Cheney, the eldest daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, confirmed her decision to quit in a statement released this morning, blaming family ‘health issues’. She said: ‘Serious health issues have recently arisen in our family, and under the circumstances, I have decided to discontinue my campaign. ‘My children and their futures were the motivation for our campaign and their health and well-being will always be my overriding priority.’

Liz Cheney has confirmed she is dropping out of the Senate primary after her upstart bid to unseat Wyoming Senator Mike Enzi ignited a war within the Republican Party and caused a feud with her lesbian sister. Ms Cheney, the eldest daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, confirmed her decision to quit in a statement released this morning, blaming family ‘health issues’. She said: ‘Serious health issues have recently arisen in our family, and under the circumstances, I have decided to discontinue my campaign. ‘My children and their futures were the motivation for our campaign and their health and well-being will always be my overriding priority.’ ‘As a mother and a patriot, I know that the work of defending freedom and protecting liberty must continue for each generation. Though this campaign stops today, my commitment to keep fighting with you and your families for the fundamental values that have made this nation and Wyoming great will never stop.’

Ms Cheney’s campaign has been fraught from the moment she entered the race with an announcement on YouTube in the summer. Her decision to challenge Mr Enzi, a popular Senator with a basically blemish-free conservative voting record, angered the party,.  One of the biggest criticisms of Ms Cheney came as she was painted as a carpetbagger after only moving to the state in 2012 from Virginia.  Problems first arose in August after local media revealed that Ms Cheney managed to obtain a fishing license despite having not lived in the state for at least a year, as the law stipulates. In spite of the logistical location issues, her very public spat with her sister, Mary, was the focus point.

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Dick Cheney and his wife Lynne said in a statement that they were ‘pained’ over the public dispute in November between their two daughters over their differing views on gay marriage. A week earlier, Ms Cheney had reaffirmed her disapproval of gay marriage on Fox News despite having a legally-married lesbian sister. ‘This is an issue we have dealt with privately for many years, and we are pained to see it become public,’ Dick Cheney and his wife said in a joint statement. Mary Cheney and her wife Heather Poe, who she married in 2012, both took to social media on to blast the candidate. ‘Liz – this isn’t just an issue on which we disagree – you’re just wrong – and on the wrong side of history,’ Mary Cheney wrote.

In a separate Facebook post, Heather Poe called her sister-in-law’s comments ‘offensive.’  ‘Liz has been a guest in our home, has spent time and shared holidays with our children, and when Mary and I got married in 2012 – she didn’t hesitate to tell us how happy she was for us,’ Poe wrote on the social media site.  ‘To have her now say she doesn’t support our right to marry is offensive to say the least.’ The statement from the former vice president and his wife also appeared to be an attempt to bolster Ms Cheney’s run for the Wyoming Senate seat.  ‘One thing should be clear. Liz has always believed in the traditional definition of marriage. She has also always treated her sister and her sister’s family with love and respect, exactly as she should have done,’ said the couple.

Liz Cheney was asked on Fox News if she was flip-flopping on her gay marriage stance. Host Chris Wallace pointed out that while she had opposed a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, she had also supporting the State Department’s plan to offer benefits to same-sex employees and their partners. ‘It’s not, and I stand by both of those positions,’ Ms Cheney said. ‘I don’t believe we ought to discriminate against people because of their sexual orientation.  ‘If people are in a same-sex relationship and they want their partner to be able to have health benefits or be designated as a beneficiary in your life insurance, there’s no reason we shouldn’t do that. ‘I also don’t support amending the Constitution on this issue. I do believe it’s an issue that’s got to be left up to the states. I do believe in the traditional definition of marriage,’ Ms Cheney added.

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In September her sister Mary Cheney, who legally married her longtime partner Heather Poe in Washington in 2012 and has two daughters, wrote on Facebook saying her sister’s stance on gay marriage was ‘dead wrong’. ‘For the record, I love my sister, but she is dead wrong on the issue of marriage. Freedom means freedom for everyone. That means that all families – regardless of how they look or how they are made – all families are entitled to the same rights, privileges and protections as every other.’ Liz Cheney responded to that message soon after, saying that she too loves her sister but this is an issue ‘on which we disagree’.

Ms Cheney’s strong stance on the issue of gay marriage may have had something to do with her bid to win the senate race in ultra-conservative Wyoming. ‘I am not pro-gay marriage,’ Ms Cheney previously said in a statement released by her campaign. ‘I believe the issue of marriage must be decided by the states, and by the people in the states, not by judges and not even by legislators, but by the people themselves.’ This stance is also a slight departure for the candidate in regards to her high profile father. Since as far back as 2004, Dick Cheney has maintained a pro-gay marriage stance. ‘Lynne and I have a gay daughter, so it’s an issue our family is very familiar with,’ Mr Cheney told an audience that included his daughter while stumping in Iowa in 2004. ‘With the respect to the question of relationships, my general view is freedom means freedom for everyone. People ought to be free to enter into any kind of relationship they want to.’

 

 

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