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Liz Cheney drops Senate bid, cites family 'health issues'

FamilyPoliticsElectionsLiz CheneyMike EnziRepublican PartySame-Sex Marriage

WASHINGTON -- Liz Cheney, citing "serious health issues" in her family, is ending her campaign for a U.S. Senate seat in Wyoming.

A statement Monday by the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney does not specify whose health has become problematic or the nature of the issue, but implies that one of her children is involved.

The announcement comes nearly six months after Cheney picked a surprise fight within the Republican Party by challenging three-term incumbent Sen. Mike Enzi. The effort quickly became shadowed by a dispute within her own family over same-sex marriage.

Cheney, 47, announced in July that she would challenge Enzi, 69, citing the need for a "new generation" of leaders to fight for conservative principles.

Her most immediate challenge was to reestablish a connection to the state where she had grown up and that her father had once represented in the House. She only recently returned to Wyoming after years of living in the Washington area.

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She also faced an uphill climb in developing a case against Enzi, a staunch, if understated conservative without the liabilities that had inspired challenges from the right to other GOP incumbents.

Many Wyoming Republicans, including fellow Sen. John Barrasso, stood by Enzi despite efforts by Cheney and her father to build support for her campaign. A poll conducted by a GOP super PAC in November, looking ahead to the August primary, found Enzi with a 52-point lead over Cheney.

By then, Cheney had sparked a feud within her own family after she restated her opposition to same-sex marriage. Her sister, Mary, who is gay and married, said her position was "dead wrong" and later that she was "on the wrong side of history." 

Dick Cheney and his wife said during another spat in November that they were "pained" to see family divisions that they had "dealt with privately for many years" playing out publicly.

Now, Cheney is citing family issues of a different sort for ending her campaign.

"Serious health issues have recently arisen in our family, and under the circumstances I have decided to discontinue my campaign," she said in the statement reported widely Monday.

"My children and their futures were the motivation for our campaign and their health and well-being will always be my overriding priority."

CNN, which first reported that Cheney would withdraw from the race, said she had begun sharing her decision with associates this past weekend but had offered no further details on what prompted the decision.

michael.memoli@latimes.con

Twitter: @mikememoli

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