Today was supposed to be the day to look at whether Alison Lundergan Grimes can successfully challenge Mitch McConnell in Kentucky. It's possible, but a lot of things have to break well. On the up side, McConnell is going to have to spend a LOT more time back home, which means less of him in DC, and that's good for everyone. But, something else came up last night.
It appears that Liz Cheney (yes, Dick's kid) is going to challenge Mike Enzi for the Republican Senate seat next year. Now, the last time there was a Democratic Senator from Wyoming, he lost re-election in 1976. Basically, it's hard to imagine a state much more red than Wyoming. Here are some factoids:
- Wyoming State Legislature:
Senate: 26 Republicans, 4 Democrats (Last Democratic majority? 1938)
House: 50 Republicans, 10 Democrats (Last Democratic majority? 1966)
- Last Democratic Congressman? Resigned in 1978
- 2012? Mittens won with almost 70% of the vote. Only Utah gave him a bigger win.
But, the chair of the state Democratic Party is a woman named Robin Van Ausdall, and I wouldn't underestimate her. If you're asking "Who?" you haven't been following Colorado....
Van Ausdall worked as a Democratic operative in Colorado, most recently as the DNC Field Rep for 22 northeast Colorado counties, before taking the reins of Wyoming's Democratic party last year. Van Ausdall is a veteran of both won and lost campaigns, and has learned from both sets of experiences. Originally from Laramie (WY), she's convinced that the schisms in the Republican Party can be exploited. Not on any one individual race, but over time.
So let's take a moment to look at Colorado:
- Governor: Democrat John Hickenlooper, last Republican - elected 2002.
- Presidential Vote: Obama in 2008 and 2012, last Democratic win prior? Clinton in '92.
- Senators: Mark Udall (first elected 2008) and Michael Bennet (appointed 2009)
- Congress: 3 Democrats, 4 Republicans
A challenge from Liz Cheney to Mike Enzi will only help Van Ausdall in her quest to develop a field, raise money, build infrastructure and, I believe, eventually turn Wyoming purple. (I think she'll need 9 - 10 years, and its certainly doable.)
So do we pick up Wyoming in 2014? It's too early to tell, since we don't actually have a candidate yet. There are no top tier Democrats in Wyoming, and the bench is mostly empty, but Mike Enzi gets re-elected by flying under the radar. He and his compatriot John Barrasso tend to work quietly, and stay off the news. I remember Enzi once saying he stays off the Sunday shows because it's just a way to blame the other side. While they're both conservatives, perception is often reality, and the electorate is overly stupid and lazy. Thus, Liz may well be able to exploit things like Enzi's vote on internet taxes, and a few other "small" issues to her advantage.
In addition, count on seeing Liz and her 5 kids here, there and everywhere doing "Wyoming things" and leveraging her gender. While in Democratic circles, seeing a woman running for office out and about is a good thing, I'm wondering if a lot of über-conservative teabaggers don't see a woman out and about and ask themselves "gee, I wonder why she isn't home-schooling her kids, taking care of the house, and kow-towing to her husband?" Further, Liz will run TO THE RIGHT, and there are a lot of women of all political denominations who truly wonder why women aren't standing up for other women.
This may well be a race to watch, and we'll probably know better this autumn.