Why Rand Paul Is Backing the Sponsor of the Marketplace Fairness Act Over Liz Cheney


Gage Skidmore

Republicans were treated to a strange surprise last week when Jonathan Martin reported on Liz Cheney's plan to primary three-term Republican Sen. Mike Enzi, of Wyoming, in 2014. Martin captured some hostility toward Cheney ("She just moved back here, she didn't even grow up here"), but provided little insight as to why the intellectual heir to Dick Cheney's War on Terror was preparing to challenge a popular–if inactive–GOP incumbent.

While Cheney refused to comment for the article, Enzi suspects that "she may take aim at his legislation, passed this year in the Senate, to let states collect sales tax on Internet purchases"; Martin, meanwhile, wonders if it's because Enzi "is too willing to work with Democrats and not vocal enough in pushing conservative causes."

As long as we're spitballing, what if Cheney is primarying Enzi because he's too willing to work with Sen. Rand Paul?  

Here's a Politico headline from last week: "Rand Paul: I've got Mike Enzi's back vs. Liz Cheney." Paul told the publication that Enzi's "a good conservative," and that the two are friends. While that might come as a surprise to anyone who witnessed Paul's blitzkrieg against the Marketplace Fairness Act (which Enzi introduced), it makes plenty of sense if you go back to March 6 of this year, when Paul filibustered for 13 hours to block the confirmation of CIA Director John Brennan. Among Paul's supporters that night was Enzi, who released this statement the following day:

Mr. President, I rise to speak in opposition to the nomination of John Brennan for CIA Director. This Administration hasn't been forthcoming in answering a vitally important question of whether or not Americans could be killed by a drone on American soil without first being charged with a crime or being found guilty in a court of law. This should have been a very simple answer. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney stated today that the Administration does not have the authority to kill Americans on American soil. That's great news, however, it shouldn't have taken a United States Senator 12 hours of non-stop-talking for the Administration to acknowledge the simple fact that it cannot kill American citizens on American soil without a trial.

I would like to applaud Senator Rand Paul's courage and conviction last night as he stood on the Senate floor for nearly 13 hours defending our rights under the Constitution. Senator Paul deserves recognition for standing up for the American people and bringing this issue to light. And it's an issue that I and many of my constituents in the State of Wyoming find very troubling.

In fact, as I traveled around Wyoming several weeks ago, it become [sic] abundantly clear that people are very concerned over this Administration's disregard for constitutionally guaranteed individual rights.

Emphasis added. 

If I had to take a stab at why Cheney's running against Enzi, I wouldn't point to the Marketplace Fairness Act, about which the Cheneys have said either little or nothing. But drones? Rand Paul? Daughter and father have a lot to say about both of those topics, and they can't possibly be happy that Enzi took Paul's side over theirs.