Liz Cheney Trounced by Trump-Backed Candidate in Primary, Hints at Presidential Run

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Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., speaks Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2022, at an Election Day gathering in Jackson, Wyo. Challenger Harriet Hageman has defeated Cheney in the primary. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

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Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, Donald Trump’s fiercest Republican adversary in Congress, was defeated in a GOP primary Tuesday, falling to a rival backed by the former president in a rout that reinforced his grip on the party’s base.

The third-term congresswoman and her allies entered the day downbeat about her prospects, aware that Trump’s backing gave Harriet Hageman considerable lift in the state where he won by the largest margin during the 2020 campaign. Cheney was already looking ahead to a political future beyond Capitol Hill that could include a 2024 presidential run, potentially putting her on another collision course with Trump.

Cheney described her loss as the beginning of a new chapter in her political career as she addressed a small collection of supporters, including her father, former Vice President Dick Cheney, on the edge of a vast field flanked by mountains and bales of hay.

“Our work is far from over,” she said Tuesday evening, evoking Abraham Lincoln, who also lost congressional elections before ascending to the presidency and preserving the union.

The results — and the roughly 30-point margin — were a powerful reminder of the GOP’s rapid shift to the right. A party once dominated by national security-oriented, business-friendly conservatives like her father now belongs to Trump, animated by his populist appeal and, above all, his denial of defeat in the 2020 election.

Such lies, which have been roundly rejected by federal and state election officials along with Trump’s own attorney general and judges he appointed, transformed Cheney from an occasional critic of the former president to the clearest voice inside the GOP warning that he represents a threat to democratic norms. She’s the top Republican on the House panel investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol by a mob of Trump supporters, an attack she referenced in nodding to her political future.

“I have said since Jan. 6 that I will do whatever it takes to ensure Donald Trump is never again anywhere near the Oval Office — and I mean it,” she said.

Four hundred miles to the east of Cheney’s concession speech, festive Hageman supporters gathered at a sprawling outdoor rodeo and Western culture festival in Cheyenne, many wearing cowboy boots, hats and blue jeans.

“Obviously we’re all very grateful to President Trump, who recognizes that Wyoming has only one congressional representative and we have to make it count,” said Hageman, a ranching industry attorney who had finished third in a previous bid for governor.

Echoing Trump’s conspiracy theories, she falsely claimed the 2020 election was “rigged” as she courted his loyalists in the runup to the election.

Trump and his team celebrated Cheney’s loss, which may represent his biggest political victory in a primary season full of them. The former president called the results “a complete rebuke” of the Jan. 6 committee.

“Liz Cheney should be ashamed of herself, the way she acted, and her spiteful, sanctimonious words and actions towards others,” he wrote on his social media platform. “Now she can finally disappear into the depths of political oblivion where, I am sure, she will be much happier than she is right now. Thank you WYOMING!”

The news offered a welcome break from Trump’s focus on his growing legal entanglements. Just eight days earlier, federal agents executing a search warrant recovered 11 sets of classified records from the former president’s Florida estate.

Cheney’s defeat would have been unthinkable just two years ago. The daughter of a former vice president, she hails from one of the most prominent political families in Wyoming. And in Washington, she was the No. 3 House Republican, an influential voice in GOP politics and policy with a sterling conservative voting record.

Cheney will now be forced from Congress at the end of her third and final term in January. She is not expected to leave Capitol Hill quietly.

She will continue in her leadership role on the congressional panel investigating the Jan. 6 attack until it dissolves at the end of the year. And she is actively considering a 2024 White House bid — as a Republican or independent — having vowed to do everything in her power to fight Trump’s influence in her party.

With Cheney’s loss, Republicans who voted to impeach Trump are going extinct.

In all, seven Republican senators and 10 Republican House members backed Trump’s impeachment in the days after his supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol as Congress tried to certify President Joe Biden’s victory. Just two of those 10 House members have won their primaries this year. After two Senate retirements, Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska is the only such Senate Republican on this year’s ballot.

Cheney was forced to seek assistance from the state’s tiny Democratic minority in her bid to pull off a victory. But Democrats across America, major donors among them, took notice. She raised at least $15 million for her election, a stunning figure for a Wyoming political contest.

Voters responded to the interest in the race. With a little more than half of the vote counted, turnout ran about 50% higher than in the 2018 Republican primary for governor.

If Cheney does ultimately run for president — either as a Republican or an independent — don’t expect her to win Wyoming’s three electoral votes.

“We like Trump. She tried to impeach Trump,” Cheyenne voter Chester Barkell said of Cheney on Tuesday. “I don’t trust Liz Cheney.”

And in Jackson, Republican voter Dan Winder said he felt betrayed by his congresswoman.

“Over 70% of the state of Wyoming voted Republican in the last presidential election and she turned right around and voted against us,” said Winder, a hotel manager. “She was our representative, not her own.”

(AP)


14 COMMENTS

  1. She’s delusional if she thinks she can become President in 2024! There is no way that she can win the Republican Primary and if Hilary Clinton runs for the Democratic Primary, she doesn’t stand a chance there either. The only way an Independent candidate can win is if he/she is extremely popular, which she’s not.

  2. If the Democrats dump Biden, and go with a Bernie-esque super-WOKE progressive AND if Trump is the Republican nominee and picks a running mate who is super-MAGA AND if both the Republicans (“America first”) and Democrats (anti-war WOKE) are both being “doves” on China and Russia, then there is a realistic chance for a “third party” made up of old-fashioned Republicans (Reaganite agenda) and old-fashioned Democrats (pro-business and “Cold War” warriors such as John Kennedy or Harry Truman). In that situation, Liz Cheney would have a serious chance as she is conservative and anti-Trump, and is very respected by everyone who is disinclined to support Trump (this suggests a “third party” with an anti-Trump Republican and a conservative Democrat, similar to what you would have gotten with a McCain-Lieberman tickets had it materialized).

    If the “Progressives” do poorly in November, and Trump appears to be the likely Republican nominee, a chance exists the Democrats will argue for a “national unity” tickets with a Republican as running mate, then Cheney would be an ideal Republican for Vice-President (this would require her to agree, as most conservatives do, that the Congress should take the lead in initiating new policies thru legislation rather than the president by administrative fiat, and it helps if someone younger than Biden is leading the Democrats).

    Personally, I suspect that Trump still might settle to be kingmaker and the Republicans will unite their “deplorable” wing with the traditional “Tea party” and “Neocons” and pro-business wings, and also that Trump will decide that one thing that “Makes America Great” is leading the Free World into battle with the evil empires of Russia and China – in which case Liz Cheney will be irrelevant.

  3. Ding Dong! The Witch is dead. Which old Witch? The Wicked Witch!
    Ding Dong! The Wicked Witch is dead.
    Wake up – sleepy head, rub your eyes, get out of bed.
    Wake up, the Wicked Witch is dead. She’s gone where the goblins go,
    Below – below – below. Yo-ho, let’s open up and sing and ring the bells out.
    Ding Dong’ the merry-oh, sing it high, sing it low.
    Let them know
    The Wicked Witch is dead!

  4. She will never win a Republican primary, anywhere. She is no longer part of the Republican Party, and now she’s dragged her father into the mud with her. He can no longer be counted as a Republican, after the disgraceful ad he made for her. A father’s love for his daughter is a formidable thing, perhaps this was his biggest mesirus nefesh, but he has to be ashamed of it.

  5. Her main focus isn’t so much running for president as stopping Trump, whom she considers a great danger to the country and the party. I’m surprised that people aren’t asking more about Trump’s chances of serving jail time for violating federal laws. I saw one lawyer who has defended clients who’ve committed similar crimes involving classified materials as saying that he’s know people who’ve done far less than Trump winding up in jail. How would that scenario affect the political future?

  6. Liz is the Republican version of Bill DeBlasio. They just don’t get the message that they are not liked and wanted. They are only a media darling for their 15 minutes of fame and then they are immediately thrown under the bus. Let her enjoy the $20 million dollars her family made from Halliburton.

  7. If the choice is between a “Republican” (MAGA America First) who among other things is willing to throw Taiwan and Ukraine under the bus, and a “Democrat” (WOKE socialist) who is anti-war and anti-military, there is room for a bi-partisan fusion ticket as a third party. All they have to do is get some electoral votes and throw the election into the House of Representatives, since the extreme hatred of MAGA and WOKE factions would mean the “third party” is the overwhelming “second choice”.

    Note that Biden might not be leading the Democratic tickets, and Trump might settle for being “kingmaker” and also might change his isolationist foreign policy views.