Cheney’s Exit: A Family Matter?

Photograph by Matt Young/AP Photo

Liz Cheney during a campaign appearance in Casper, Wyo., on July 17, 2013.

Updated at 9:15, 9:24 and 10:27 am EST

Liz Cheney, the former vice president’s daughter who mounted a party-splitting campaign for Senate in Wyoming, says she is abandoning the race for “family health” reasons.

To the outward world, the family health in jeopardy was that of her siblings as well as the Republican Party.

The public rift created by Cheney’s campaign renouncement of gay marriage — prompting her lesbian sister to protest on Facebook that the candidate was on “the wrong side of history” — brought a public statement by her father, former Vice President Dick Cheney, and wife Lynne that they were “pained” by the division.

Liz Cheney issued a statement this morning announcing her plans to discontinue her campaign to wrest the Republican nomination from Sen. Mike Enzi citing “serious health issues” in her family.

“Serious health issues have recently arisen in our family, and under the circumstances, I have decided to discontinue my campaign,” Cheney said in the statement first reported by Politico, after CNN first reported that Cheney was telling associates of her decision and CNN and the New York Times had similar reports. “My children and their futures were the motivation for our campaign and their health and well-being will always be my overriding priority.”

This is her full statement, posted at the Facebook, where an intra-family feud had erupted over a matter of marital rights:

“Serious health issues have recently arisen in our family, and under the circumstances, I have decided to discontinue my campaign. My children and their futures were the motivation for our campaign and their health and well being will always be my overriding priority.”

Husband “Phil and I want to thank the thousands of people in Wyoming and all across the country who have supported my campaign. As a mother and a patriot, I know that the work of defending freedom and protecting liberty must continue for each generation. Though this campaign stops today, my commitment to keep fighting with you and your families for the fundamental values that have made this nation and Wyoming great will never stop.”

Cheney’s sister Mary had called the candidate on “the wrong side of history” after Liz Cheney said on Fox News Sunday in November: “I love Mary very much, I love her family very much… This is just an issue on which we disagree.”

“I believe in the traditional definition of marriage,” Cheney said then.

Heather Poe, Mary Cheney’s wife, replied publicly on Facebook:

“I was watching my sister-in-law on Fox News Sunday (yes Liz, in fifteen states and the District of Columbia you are my sister-in-law) and was very disappointed to hear her say, ‘I do believe in the traditional definition of marriage.’ Liz has been a guest in our home, has spent time and shared holidays with our children, and when Mary and I got married in 2012 – she didn’t hesitate to tell us how happy she was for us.”

“To have her now say she doesn’t support our right to marry is offensive to say the least. I can’t help but wonder how Liz would feel if as she moved from state to state, she discovered that her family was protected in one but not the other.”

Mary Cheney, in sharing her wife’s Facebook status, said this of her sister: “Liz – this isn’t just an issue on which we disagree – you’re just wrong – and on the wrong side of history.”

To which the parents said:

“This is an issue we have dealt with privately for many years, and we are pained to see it become public,” Dick and Lynne Cheney said in a statement issued. “Since it has, one thing should be clear. Liz has always believed in the traditional definition of marriage.”

Liz Cheney also drew criticism for billing herself as a “fourth-generation Wyomingite,” though her own relationship with the state was limited to elementary and junior high school when her father returned there to run for Congress in 1978. He was elected vice president in 2000, and she had settled in Virginia. She returned to Wyoming in 2012 to stake her claim to a state where her parents maintain a mountain home, catching the party — and Enzi — by surprise in challenging an incumbent Republican senator.

There hadn’t been a lot of polling on the August primary contest, but what there was showed a yawning gap of support, with Enzi holding a daunting advantage in his bid for re-election.

And then there was a question about the money it takes:

And Cheney was facing a backlash within her own party.

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