Primary Fever: Early, often and effective incumbent challenges

What is one of the most unexpected primary challenges the Republicans are facing in 2014? Photo: AP Photos

WASHINGTON, July 8, 2013 ― Only midway through 2013 and the winds of the 2014 primaries are starting to blow. In South Carolina, rumors swirl about possible opponents to Lindsay Graham.

In Tennessee conservatives remain bitterly critical of liberal Republican Lamar Alexander. 

However, in one place, there is an unusual primary race starting to build. Unless you live in Wyoming, you may not have heard of Senator Mike Enzi. Even by the standards of the Senate he is pretty low key.

He doesn’t show up on talk shows and does not engage in the flamboyant grandstanding that some members of the Senate do.

Liz Cheney Cheney is going to “primary,” meaning to run against, Mike Enzi in the Wyoming Republican primaries. Daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, in the last few years she has been establishing herself as a conservative figure outside the shadow of her father.

While Enzi has a generally right of center record, working with Dick Durban, the democratic senator from Illinois, Enzi has championed the Internet sales tax. Support of the internet “Market Place Fairness Act”, is reason enough to deserve being run against by Cheney. 

The most interesting reaction to the idea that Cheney would challenge Mike Enzi comes from the Republican Establishment. That alone means she should do it even as former Wyoming Senator Republicans Alan Simpson said a Cheney primary run against Enzi would be “the destruction of the Republican Party of Wyoming” if both decide to run.

Simpson also said, “It’s a disaster — a divisive, ugly situation — and all it does is open the door for the Democrats for 20 years.”

The Establishment whined that Enzi had done nothing to be turned out.


The Constitution provides Senators with six-year terms, not terms for life or until they do something worthy of being “put out.”

The fact that the Establishment is circling the wagons to support Enzi, that he is now getting fawning stories about him in the New York Times is reason enough that conservatives should “primary” him, giving Wyomians a true conservative choice.

Only Enzi does not want to retire. That is his choice. He can and should run as long as he likes.

But the one thing he should learn as should everyone elected to office, the office is not theirs. It belongs to the people. Incumbents should be challenged early and often. America is not the old Soviet Union or China where only one candidate is offered and he or she serves until the “establishment” gets tired of them.

Here in America we need to take advantage of our ability to remove the people from elected office that are not doing the jobs we hired them for.

One of the most dangerous threats to our liberty is when elected officials develop the sense of entitlement.  They believe they are entitled to their jobs and they are entitled to be our public masters instead of our public servants. 

We expect that in the Democrats. We expect better from the Republicans.

For conservatives, in 2014, our motto should be “primary early, primary often and primary effectively!” Challenge the status quo.  Demand a choice. Demand better.

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Judson Phillips

Judson Phillips is the founder of Tea Party Nation, one of the largest Tea Party Groups in the country and the number one national tea party site on the Internet.

A lawyer by profession, Judson has been involved in politics since his teens. “Ronald Reagan inspired me,” he says.

Judson became involved in the Tea Party movement in February 2009 after hearing Rick Santelli’s rant on CNBC.   “I heard there was going to be a Tea Party in Chicago inspired by Santelli, but didn’t know if anyone was doing a rally in Nashville where I was based.  Finally I emailed Michelle Malkin and asked her if there was a Tea Party in Nashville.  Malkin sent an email back saying, ‘No, why don’t you organize one?’  I did.”

The first Tea Party in Nashville was held late February 2009 which drew a crowd of about 600. Judson then organized the Tax Day Tea Party in Nashville, which drew over 10,000 people into downtown.   It was at this time that Tea Party Nation was formed.  Later that year, Judson decided to bring activists from across the country together, so he organized the first National Tea Party Convention in February 2010, which featured Alaska’s former Governor and Republican Vice Presidential Nominee, Sarah Palin as it’s keynote speaker.

He currently manages the Tea Party Nation website, writes several daily columns and is working on more projects than any one person should.  He is a frequent guest on cable and broadcast news shows, including on Fox, MSNBC, CNN and others.

Contact Judson Phillips


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