Cheney’s decision also has major implications for the future leadership of the House GOP, where Cheney has been a fast-rising star. Cheney, 53, had been wrestling with her political future for months and told reporters she would make a final decision over the holidays when she was back home with her family. Even though Cheney…
Cheney’s decision also has major implications for the future leadership of the House GOP, where Cheney has been a fast-rising star.
Cheney, 53, had been wrestling with her political future for months and told reporters she would make a final decision over the holidays when she was back home with her family. Even though Cheney would have been a back-bencher in the upper chamber, a high-profile Senate seat would have put her in the national spotlight — potentially catapulting her to a national ticket or Cabinet post.
But staying in the House has its upsides, too. Cheney has already quickly climbed the leadership ladder — in just her second term, she was elected to serve as GOP Conference chairwoman — and her colleagues have buzzed that she can be speaker one day. Her father, former Vice President Dick Cheney, spent his congressional career serving in the House before leaving to join then-President George H.W. Bush’s Cabinet.
Cheney is also a major asset to the House GOP, which saw its ranks of female lawmakers decimated in the 2018 midterms. Cheney is one of just 13 Republican women in the lower chamber — and the only woman in leadership.
Cheney shared her decision with her House GOP colleagues during a closed-door policy meeting on Thursday morning, according to sources in the room, and received a standing ovation after the announcement. Cheney also made clear she wants House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) to be the next GOP speaker, quashing any speculation she would try to leapfrog McCarthy anytime soon.
Cheney’s decision to remain the House avoids a potentially nasty GOP primary in Wyoming, where Lummis has already been campaigning for months. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who has long feuded with the Cheney family — including backing a different Republican in Cheney’s first election to the House in 2016 — encouraged Lummis to jump in the Senate race.
Lummis praised Cheney in a statement, calling her a “great spokeswoman and leader” for Republicans in Washington.
“Her role as House Republican Conference Chair is one she truly excels in and I think her future knows no bounds,” Lummis said. “It’s a tremendous benefit to the people of Wyoming to have John Barrasso in leadership in the Senate and Liz Cheney in leadership in the House.”
Since joining Congress in 2017, Cheney has earned a reputation on Capitol Hill for being a leading defense hawk and capable conservative messenger. While she has hugged Trump tightly on most issues, she has occasionally broken with the president on foreign policy.
Cheney ran for the Senate once before, launching a primary challenge to Enzi in 2013. But she abandoned that bid in January 2014, well before the primary, dropping out and running for the House two years later when Lummis retired.