Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, Donald Trump’s staunch Republican opponent in Congress, lost Tuesday in a GOP primary, falling to an opponent backed by the former president in a contest that cemented her grip on the party’s base.
The third-term congressman and his aides gushed down on the day about their prospects, knowing that Trump’s endorsement would give Harriet Hejman a substantial boost in the state she won by the largest margin during the 2020 campaign. achieved. Cheney was already looking beyond Capitol Hill to a political future that could include a 2024 presidency, potentially putting him on another collision course with Trump.
Cheney described his loss as the start of a new chapter in his political career as he addressed a small collection of supporters, including his father, former Vice President Dick Cheney, on a vast plain surrounded by mountains and bales of hay. was on the edge of.
“Our work is not over,” she said.
Four hundred miles to the east, Hegemman supporters of the festival gathered at a huge outdoor rodeo and western culture festival in Cheyenne, many of them wearing cowboy boots, hats and blue jeans.
The results 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 Dick Cheney now belongs to Trump, inspired by his populist appeal and, above all, his denial of defeat in the 2020 election.
Those lies, which were vehemently debunked by Trump’s own attorney general and the judges he appointed, as well as federal and state election officials, transformed Cheney from the former president’s occasional critic to the outspoken voice inside the GOP warning. Given that it represents a threat to democracy. Criteria.
Cheney’s defeat just two years ago was unthinkable. The daughter of a former vice president, she belongs to one of Wyoming’s most prominent political families. And in Washington, she was the No. 3 House Republican, an influential voice in GOP politics and policy, with a sterling conservative voting record.
But after January 6, 2021, following an attack on the US Capitol by a crowd of Trump supporters, Cheney voted to impeach Trump and made it his primary mission to ensure he never worked in the Oval Office again. Do it. She has carried forward GOP condemnation and death threats for serving as a leader on a congressional panel investigating Trump’s role in the rebellion.
Cheney will now be kicked out of Congress at the end of his third and final term in January. He is not expected to leave Capitol Hill quietly.
She will continue in her leadership role on the Congress panel probing the January 6 attack until it is dissolved at the end of the year. And she has vowed to do everything in her power to fight Trump’s influence in her party – as a Republican or independent – actively considering a 2024 White House bid.
So far it is a one sided fight.
Tuesday’s primary contest demonstrated the enduring power of Trump and his brand of hard-line politics ahead of November’s midterm elections. Heijman, an agriculture industry lawyer, echoing Trump, falsely claimed the 2020 election was “rigged.”
With Cheney’s defeat, the Republicans who voted to impeach Trump are becoming extinct.
In all, seven Republican senators and 10 Republican House members supported Trump’s impeachment after his supporters stormed the US Capitol as Congress tried to testify to President Joe Biden’s victory. Of those 10 members of the House, only two have won their primaries this year.
Cheney was forced to seek aid from the state’s small Democratic minority. But Democrats across America, major donors among them, took notice. She raised at least $15 million for her election, an astonishing figure for a Wyoming political contest.
But the composition of Wyoming’s deeply Republican electorate was very difficult to grasp. As of August 1, 2022, Wyoming had 285,000 registered voters, including 40,000 Democrats and 208,000 Republicans. Trump won nearly 70 percent of the vote in 2016 and 2020.
If Cheney eventually runs for president—either as a Republican or an independent—don’t expect him to win Wyoming’s three electoral votes.
“We like Trump. He tried to impeach Trump,” Cheyenne voter Chester Barkel said of Cheney on Tuesday. “I don’t trust Liz Cheney.”
And in Jackson, Republican voter Dan Winder said he felt betrayed by his congressman.
“More than 70% of the state of Wyoming voted Republican in the last presidential election and she got it right and voted against us,” said Winder, a hotel manager. “She was our representative, not ours.”
Anti-Trump Republicans across the country applauded Cheney’s willingness to challenge Trump, while they expressed dismay at his loss.
“What is remarkable is that she has never wavered in the face of almost certain defeat,” said Sarah Longwell, executive director of the Republican Accountability Project. “We are seeing a national American figure forged. It is funny how small the election seems — the Wyoming election — because she feels bigger than it is now.”