- Associated Press - Saturday, August 16, 2014

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - Mike Enzi stands to become the second-longest-serving U.S. senator in Wyoming history if he’s re-elected, and that’s both an asset and liability as he seeks a fourth term.

Enzi, 70, describes himself as both an “old shoe salesman” and a seasoned leader who knows how to get things done in Washington. Yet twice in the past year he’s faced opposition from fellow Republicans who say he’s far too entrenched and needs to go.

The latest is retired Air Force Lt. Col. Bryan Miller, 48, of Sheridan, a former presidential advance agent for Bill Clinton and George W. Bush who now works as an independent business consultant.

“Seniority is only good if you are doing the right things for Wyoming, if you’re voting the way people in Wyoming want you to,” Miller said. “I have no problem removing someone who’s been there a very long time, even though they are going to be in charge of these powerful committees.”

Enzi has cited his seniority-based rankings on the Senate Budget Committee, Finance Committee and the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.

“If I didn’t run, I would be throwing that away,” Enzi said.

The winner of the Republican primary likely will face former Roman Catholic priest Charlie Hardy, 75, in the general election. Hardy is one of four Democratic candidates but the only one actively campaigning for the party’s nomination.

Three other Republicans filed for the primary but are campaigning very little, if at all.

Long gone is Liz Cheney, the elder daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, who cited family health issues in dropping out of the race in January. She had difficulty getting mainstream Republicans to back up her claim that Enzi hasn’t done a good job representing Wyoming.

Enzi’s supporters rallied and he’s had even more campaign cash available than usual. That hasn’t dissuaded Miller, who said he told Enzi in person in May he was going to oppose him.

Miller objected to Enzi’s support of a bill that facilitated sales taxes on Internet purchases. He also said lawmakers have been too complicit in allowing federal agencies, such as the Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Education, to perform duties that ought to be done by the states.

“In my opinion, it’s all redundant,” he said. “It needs to come back to the states.”

Enzi’s priorities include simplifying federal income taxes. He’s a ranking member of the Finance Committee’s Subcommittee on Taxation and IRS Oversight and will become chairman if Republicans regain control of the Senate, he pointed out.

“We have 70,000 pages of tax code right now.” Enzi said. “A lot of that is duplication, special processes, special things for different groups, and those can be made more uniform. I’d like to see us get it down to where it’s just a one-page tax form.”

He also intends to keep pushing his “penny plan” to balance the budget by cutting federal spending by 1 percent a year for three years.

“There is a lot of agreement on what the problems are, and some on what the solutions are,” he said. “I’m an old shoe salesman, that’s the way I work. I talk to people one at a time until I’ve got my 60 or so votes and then get it to the floor.”

Enzi was first elected in 1996 and handily won re-election in 2002 and 2008. If he completes a fourth term, he will become Wyoming’s longest-serving U.S. senator after Republican Francis E. Warren, who served from 1890-93 and from 1895-1929.

Others who filed for the Republican nomination include self-described soldier of fortune Thomas Bleming, of Lusk; oil company worker Arthur Bruce Clifton, of Cheyenne; and James Gregory, of Jackson, who has no listed number and whose occupation is unknown.

Seeking the Democratic nomination besides Hardy are retired sign painter Al Hamburg, of Torrington; contracting company worker Rex Wilde, of Cheyenne; and William Byrk, of Brooklyn, New York.

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