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Enzi returns focus to policy, after Cheney quits

Sen._Mike_Enzi.jpg

Wyoming Republican Mike Enzi says he can focus more on his work in the U.S. Senate now that Liz Cheney has dropped her primary challenge.

Cheney’s primary challenge to the state’s senior senator surprised many in both Wyoming and Washington: especially Enzi. He accused her of lying to him about her intention to challenge him, an accusation she denies. Now that Cheney is out of the race – citing family health issues –Enzi says he hopes there will not be any lingering hard feelings between the two.

“This is a political race and that’s the way it works,” Enzi said. “People sign up and work on it.”

Enzi admits he’s better at policy than politics, including things like fundraising, which he’s never enjoyed. He says not having a serious primary challenger gives him more time to focus on issues.

“It was a little bit of a distraction because I have this full time job that I want to keep. And a lot of important things that are happening; it’s a critical time for our nation. Now I can work at it a little bit more.”

As for whether Enzi feels any relief now that he’s expected to coast to reelection with Cheney out of the race?

“No, I was really sorry for her and her family,” Enzi said. “It’s a terrible thing to go through and anytime it deals with your kids that’s more painful than when it deals with you yourself.”

Enzi says Cheney did have a “brief conversation” with him about her kid’s health problems before publicly announcing her intention to exit the race.

Based on Capitol Hill, Matt Laslo is a reporter who has been covering campaigns and every aspect of federal policy since 2006. While he has filed stories for NPR and more than 40 of its affiliates, he has also written for Rolling Stone, The Atlantic, Campaigns and Elections Magazine, The Daily Beast, The Chattanooga Times Free Press, The Guardian, The Omaha World-Herald, VICE News and Washingtonian Magazine.
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