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This Tuesday brings another round of important primaries for Congress and statewide office and the likelihood that high-profile candidates will be defeated.
But next week’s news won’t focus on those household household names or what their losses mean for their states. He will focus on what these results may mean for Donald Trump.
It’s all the more remarkable given that these may be the final bids for congressional seats for two of the best-known women in American politics – Republican icons Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Sarah Palin of Alaska.
Cheney is vice-chairman of the committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol and has often spearheaded that investigation. Until she voted to impeach Trump in January 2021, she was on track to one day be the first Republican woman to serve as Speaker of the House. She could also be a presidential candidate in 2024.
Cheney is, of course, also the daughter of former Vice President Richard B. Cheney, who served two terms in the White House (2001-2009) and has often been described as America’s second most powerful leader. United States history. The former vice-president published a ad and video in which he appears in a cowboy hat and grunts his support for his daughter and rejects Trump’s claims about the 2020 election. The tagline is, “Only a coward would lie to his own supporters.”
Sarah Palin is, of course, Sarah Palin
Palin was the first woman since Geraldine Ferraro in 1984 to be on the national ticket for either major party, chosen for vice president by GOP nominee John McCain in 2008. She gave one of the speeches most memorable in recent history. at the party convention in St. Paul that summer and headlining crowded rallies that fall that in many ways anticipated Trump’s.
Prior to that, she was Governor of Alaska and since then has been a reality TV star, although far less successful in that career than Trump. She was also a Fox News contributor before her current campaign and a contestant on “The Masked Singer.”
She is now running for the seat held for 49 years by the late Rep. Don Young, the longest serving Republican congressman in history. If she wins the special election on Tuesday, she will complete her term, and a primary vote on the same ballot would nominate her for a full term beginning in 2023.
Just over a year ago, the prospect of Cheney and Palin both sitting in the same chamber of Congress would have been enough to garner media attention of all kinds at all levels of sophistication.
With first names that fit easily into headlines and surnames sure to be clickbait, both could have been driving traffic for years. This would have been especially true if either or both had run for president in 2024 or later. And even if neither did, either would be an automatic mention for vice president in 2024 or beyond.
It’s still possible, but developments in their states and nationally have made it increasingly unlikely that either will be in the House next year.
A loss for Liz or a launch?
In another era — say, a cycle ago — Cheney would be rushing to another GOP nod for the seat she first won in 2016 and has held ever since. In November, she would expect to win with more than two-thirds of the vote, as she has done three times.
But this time she is expected to lose hard to state legislator Harriet Hageman, who is leading in the polls – including a University of Wyoming poll released Aug. 12 showing Hageman ahead by 30 points.
Trump endorsed Hageman the day she announced in September 2021, a quick decision that helped freeze other Republican rivals who could have split the anti-Cheney vote.
“We love President Trump here,” Hageman said, thanking him for also coming to the state for her. Trump kept his vow to oppose the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach him in January 2021 (two survived their primaries, three lost and four others did not seek re-election).
Hageman was a strong supporter of Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’s 2016 presidential aspirations, calling Trump “racist and xenophobic” at the time. She now says she was the victim of lies about Trump told by Democrats and Liz Cheney at the time, but now considers him “the greatest president of my life”.
In interviews, Cheney has strongly suggested that she had already accepted the verdict of Wyoming voters but was not ready to end her career. After finishing her current term, observers have suggested, she could be the anti-Trump campaigner in a group of pro-Trump Republicans in 2024 — most likely including Trump himself.
While no data exists to suggest Cheney could still win on Tuesday, his candidacy has prompted an unprecedented outpouring of support from out of state as well as longtime opponents. Led by former Gov. Mike Sullivan, many Democrats in Wyoming would have to change their party registration (as permitted by state law on primary day) in order to vote for Cheney. But it is very unlikely that there will be enough to make a difference.
There may have been some erosion of support for Trump in Wyoming, where he won 70% of the vote twice. But that slippage likely ended when the FBI raided his home in Mar-a-Lago on August 8. Republicans in Wyoming, as elsewhere, closed ranks behind the former president last week and denounced the raid as politically motivated.
After this FBI search, blood is flowing in Trump’s states.
Blocked by a voting system
But even this latest rally around Trump might not be enough to save Palin.
She has his approval and he called one of her rallies as recently as the day her house was raided. What’s stopping Palin isn’t her relationship with the former president, it’s a voting system.
Alaska has an open primary that lists all candidates together, regardless of party. In the first round of voting there this spring, there were 48 candidates on the ballot. Palin, unsurprisingly, came in first with 27% of the total. She often complained that she “got the most votes” and was not subjected to a second round of voter assessment.
But under the Alaska system, Palin faces a second ballot that includes the top four from the first round. One of the top four in the June vote dropped out, but Palin is still battling two second-round rivals on Tuesday, including another Republican. This is Nick Begich III, the grandson of the last person to occupy this seat before Young. His grandfather was a Democrat who was lost in a plane crash in the Alaskan wilderness in 1972; his uncle Mark, also a Democrat, served one term as a U.S. senator.
The third candidate on Tuesday is Mary Peltola, a former state legislator who is the daughter of a Yup’ik Eskimo. A Democrat who has established herself as a factor in her own right, she could even win a plurality of votes for first place on Tuesday. But that wouldn’t be the end of the story, because a plurality of first place is not enough.
Alaska just installed a new ranked choice system, like the one used in Maine and New York and elsewhere. It allows each voter to vote for more than one candidate, ranking them in order of preference.
If no one gets more than 50% on the first count, the two with the most votes for first place proceed to an “instant second round” – a tally of their respective votes. second place voice. If a candidate has a sufficient advantage in the second count, he can overcome a deficit in the first.
Because third place votes at this point can be the kiss of death, the contest becomes less of a popularity contest than a unpopularity competition. The candidate most liked by some but least liked by too many others will not win.
Negatives can weigh heavily
One of the arguments for the choice ranking system is that it encourages candidates to be more likeable and supposedly discourages negative campaigning.
But Begich’s commercials have been tough on Palin. One says “she left Alaska to become a celebrity.” A voice in another says “vote smart, not Sarah”. It was widely noted that she missed a candidates’ debate this summer for a fundraiser in Minnesota.
And though she was a charismatic force during the 2008 presidential campaign, she hasn’t faced a voter since stepping down midway through her gubernatorial term in 2009. Some Republicans still haven’t forgotten how she won that term, challenging an incumbent Republican. A recent poll by Alaska Survey Research showed she was viewed unfavorably by 60% of Alaskans, far more than Begich or Peltola.
Polls have shown that voters in other places find the system reasonably easy to use and like having the option of making more than one choice. Trump, for his part, weighed in by calling the system “shit.”
He might be even less in love with it if it frustrates Palin on Tuesday. She was among the first famous Republicans to back him in his presidential quest, and he was thrilled to reciprocate.
But he will probably console himself by thinking of Wyoming.