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Could Liz Cheney End Wyoming's GOP Incumbency Streak?

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All 17 Wyoming Republican U.S. Senate incumbents running for reelection have won their renomination bids over the last century

lizcheney10.jpgReports have surfaced in the past few days that Liz Cheney, daughter of the former Vice-President, is eying a 2014 U.S. Senate bid in the State of Wyoming.

That seat is currently held by three-term Republican incumbent Mike Enzi, who has cruised to 45-point and 51-point reelection victories over the last two cycles.

While there is little clamoring in the Cowboy State to remove Enzi from office - and his seat is currently rated 'safe' by all prognosticators - a Cheney bid would certainly provide for drama in the GOP primary.

In fact, if Cheney were to defeat Enzi, she would make history.

A Smart Politics review of Wyoming U.S. Senate elections finds that no Republican incumbent running for reelection in the direct vote era has failed to win their party's nomination.

To date Wyoming Republican U.S. Senators are 17 for 17 in securing the GOP nomination when running for reelection since the first popular vote contest in the state in 1916.

All but four of these incumbents went on to win the general election including all 11 since 1972.

On six occasions, Wyoming GOP U.S. Senators did not seek reelection: Patrick Sullivan in 1930, Edward Crippa in 1954, Milward Simpson in 1966, Clifford Hansen in 1978, Malcolm Wallop in 1994, and Alan Simpson in 1996. (Sullivan had been appointed in 1929).

The remaining 17 incumbents were all successful in finding their way back on the general election ballot:

· Clarence Clark in 1916.
· Francis Warren in 1918.
· Francis Warren in 1924.
· Robert Carey in 1936.
· Edward Robertson in 1948.
· Frank Barrett in 1958.
· Clifford Hansen in 1972.
· Malcolm Wallop in 1988.
· Alan Simpson in 1990.
· Craig Thomas in 2000.
· Mike Enzi in 2002.
· Craig Thomas in 2006.
· Mike Enzi in 2008.
· John Barrasso in 2008 (special).
· John Barrasso in 2012.

Credible primary challengers to these Republican incumbents have been few and far between over the years, with just three opponents appearing on the ballot across the last six contests featuring a GOP incumbent since 2000.

A Cheney challenge to Enzi in 2014 is headline news in the Cowboy State - even if it doesn't significantly improve the chances of the Democratic challenger in this deep red state.

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Remains of the Data

No Free Passes: States With 2 Major Party Candidates in Every US House Race

Indiana has now placed candidates from both major parties on the ballot in a nation-best 189 consecutive U.S. House races, with New Hampshire, Minnesota, Idaho, and Montana also north of 100 in a row.

Political Crumbs

Gubernatorial Highs and Lows

Two sitting governors currently hold the record for the highest gubernatorial vote ever received in their respective states by a non-incumbent: Republican Matt Mead of Wyoming (65.7 percent in 2010) and outgoing GOPer Dave Heineman of Nebraska (73.4 percent in 2006). Republican Gary Herbert of Utah had not previously won a gubernatorial contest when he notched a state record 64.1 percent for his first victory in 2010, but was an incumbent at the time after ascending to the position in 2009 after the early departure of Jon Huntsman. Meanwhile, two sitting governors hold the record in their states for the lowest mark ever recorded by a winning gubernatorial candidate (incumbent or otherwise): independent-turned-Democrat Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island (36.1 percent in 2010) and Democrat Terry McAuliffe of Virginia (47.8 percent in 2013).


An Idaho Six Pack

Two-term Idaho Republican Governor Butch Otter only polled at 39 percent in a recent PPP survey of the state's 2014 race - just four points ahead of Democratic businessman A.J. Balukoff. Otter's low numbers reflect his own struggles as a candidate (witness his weak primary win against State Senator Russ Fulcher) combined with the opportunity for disgruntled Idahoans to cast their votes for one of four third party and independent candidates, who collectively received the support of 12 percent of likely voters: Libertarian John Bujak, the Constitution Party's Steve Pankey, and independents Jill Humble and Pro-Life (aka Marvin Richardson). The six candidate options in a gubernatorial race sets an all-time record in the Gem State across the 46 elections conducted since statehood. The previous high water mark of five candidates was reached in seven previous cycles: 1902, 1904, 1908, 1912, 1914, 1966, and 2010.


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