Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) heads into her Tuesday primary against a seemingly fearless Trump-backed opponent, even as the odds increasingly tilt in her rival’s favor.
The Wyoming congresswoman has become former President Trump’s most prominent GOP critic, after voting to impeach him and serving on the House committee investigating his role in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol. .
Trump and his allies have made it a priority to oust Cheney over the past year, throwing their support behind attorney Harriet Hageman (R). And while recent polls have shown Hageman leading from afar, Cheney has made it clear she won’t go down without a fight, even though some Republicans acknowledge that her views and political approach have put her in a tough spot.
“I think it’s debatable if she should have gone out and blown herself up that way because obviously it’s going to cost her her seat and her platform, but she chose a different path. And I think everyone has to make their own decisions in life,” said Scott Jennings, a GOP strategist and former special assistant to former President George W. Bush, who said he “reveres” the Cheneys.
Cheney was among 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump in the wake of the Capitol riot, and since Jan. 6 she has become the face of a small group of Capitol Hill Republicans who continue to push back. their party. Just months after the Capitol attack, she said she regretted her decision to vote for the former president in 2020 and vowed to prevent him from making another comeback to the White House.
“I will do everything I can to ensure that the former president never comes near the Oval Office again,” Cheney told reporters in May 2021, following a vote by House Republicans to remove her from her post. of management.
“We have seen the danger he continues to cause with his language. We have seen his lack of commitment and dedication to the Constitution. And I think it’s very important that we make sure that the person we elect is someone who will be true to the Constitution,” she said.
But of those 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump, only two are seeking re-election after advancing in their primaries, while seven others chose not to run again or lost their bids.
Some Republicans say while they respect Cheney’s resolve to adhere to his conscience, they question his approach.
“I strongly believe that people should stick to their guns and do what they think is good for the country,” one strategist said. “So on the one hand, I really appreciate, you know, whether I agree or disagree with his approach to this, I appreciate and respect people who are willing to do that, because, frankly, they are very rare in Washington.”
“That being said, I also think there’s a way to do it without putting a finger in the eye of a president or a former president or the party as a whole,” the strategist added.
Cheney, the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, also maintained a conservative record. The Growth Club he gave him a 2021 legislator scorecard out of 92 (she has a lifetime score of 69), while Heritage Action for America he gave him a score for the 2021-2022 session of 78%.
An adviser to Hageman said the campaign was feeling good heading into the primary, saying Hageman was meeting with Wyoming residents regularly while Cheney had not. The adviser claimed that Cheney was “more focused on her own agenda than on the agenda of the people of Wyoming.”
But Hageman and Cheney have overlapped in the past. The New York Times reported last year, for example, that during the 2016 presidential cycle, Hageman once called Trump a “racist and xenophobe” and also the “weakest candidate.” She made the comments as she pushed to allow delegates to vote for the candidate they wanted, not by how their state voted, in a bid to prevent Trump from securing the party’s nomination. according to CNN.
“By not having a closed primary, we have Democrats picking candidates often. Either they choose the weakest candidate or they choose the most moderate or most liberal candidate in many, many, many of our races,” Hageman said at a 2016 Republican National Committee rules meeting, according to CNN.
Hageman’s adviser pushed back on the framing of the Times story.
“What Harriet Believed [at the] The convention of 2016, believes today, is that we need a closed primary system…in the Republican Party, and the argument she was making to this reporter who took his remarks out of context is that the Democrats will flood our primaries to produce the most – the weakest candidate, right? It was the context that was missing from that quote,” the adviser said.
It’s that open primary system that might be Cheney’s best move on Tuesday.
Still, polls for the primary in recent months have indicated that Cheney faces an uphill battle. A survey released Thursday by the Wyoming Survey and Analysis Center at the University of Wyoming showed 57 percent of state residents identified as likely voters in the primary supporting Hageman, compared to 28% supporting Cheney.
Andrew Garner, a professor who focuses on American and comparative politics at the University of Wyoming, noted that while Hageman was likely to win the primary based on a recent poll, the margins could be closer. provided that.
“I advised a little caution given that one of the big unknowns has to do with the Democratic cross-votes for Cheney. It’s such a unique situation for this particular contest, and so I’m not entirely sure the extent to which polls will be able to measure this,” he said in an email.
“Statewide contests are already difficult to poll accurately. Primary elections in small states are even more difficult. And when you have a low-turnout contest like a primary in a small state, you don’t have to have a lot of people staying home, showing up, or changing their votes to create big swings,” he said. added.
Cheney’s campaign increasingly relied on support from Democrats. The New York Times reported in June that state Democrats were getting mail from her campaign about how to change their party’s registration in order to vote for her in the primary.
Gunner Ramer, the political director of the anti-Trump Republican Accountability PAC, reached out to Democrats in the state to encourage them to vote in the GOP primary, which he said was uncoordinated with Cheney’s campaign.
“If Liz’s support for Republicans isn’t great in the state of Wyoming, then you need to get creative with how you think about campaigns, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. hard to cheer on Democrats, no matter how many, because we don’t know — we can’t predict the election,” Ramer said.
As Cheney heads into Tuesday, it’s clear little has changed in the Wyoming incumbent’s posts as she continues to hammer Trump and his baseless claims that the 2020 election was stolen.
A new ad released Thursday as part of his campaign showed Cheney calling those 2020 claims “poisonous lies” and “insidious.”
“After her work on the January 6 hearings, she has as much right and information to speak about Donald Trump and his opinions as anyone,” said Jennings, the GOP strategist. “I don’t know how persuasive she’s going to be for Republicans, but the thing is…you don’t have to persuade everybody, you just have to persuade enough of them,” said Jennings, the GOP strategist.