POLITICS

Mike Enzi High-Fived On Senate Floor After Liz Cheney Drops Primary Challenge

01/06/2014 08:30 pm ET | Updated Jan 23, 2014

WASHINGTON -- Wyoming GOP stalwart Sen. Mike Enzi learned Monday morning that he wouldn't have to battle Liz Cheney to keep his Senate seat in 2014. And by evening, in his first visit to the the Senate floor for the year, his Republican colleagues greeted him with smiles and high-fives.

The one who got the celebration going was Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), who faces a primary challenge from ultra-conservative Rep. Steve Stockman.

Cornyn headed the National Republican Senatorial Committee in the previous two election cycles, when right-wing challengers beat mainstream Republicans in numerous primaries, costing the GOP at least five seats in the Senate.

Also among those enthusiastically greeting Enzi were Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska). Both also face reelection challenges from the right.

Cheney, the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, cited "serious health issues" in quitting the race.

Her bid had been acrimonious for her family. Cheney publicly denounced gay marriage, sparking a feud with her sister, Mary, who is gay. Cheney trailed Enzi badly in the polls.

Enzi himself was was more subdued after he left the floor and ran into reporters asking about Cheney's withdrawal, according to HuffPost's Arthur Delaney.

"One of her children was having a health problem, so I hope everybody will keep them in their prayers," said Enzi, who chatted with Cheney when she quit. He said the conversation was "brief," and she didn't mention endorsing him.

"She didn't volunteer. I don't know," he said, adding that he was surprised by the withdrawal. He declined to weigh in on what an endorsement -- or lack of one -- from Cheney would mean.

"I'm not even going to speculate on that," Enzi said.

Watch Enzi's welcome, above.

This article has been updated with Enzi's comments after leaving the Senate floor.

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