CHEYENNE, Wyo. — Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, a leader in the Republican resistance to former President Donald Trump, is battling to save her U.S. House seat on Tuesday as voters weigh in on the GOP leadership.
Cheney’s team is bracing for a loss to a Trump-backed challenger in the state in which he won by the largest margin in the 2020 campaign.
Win or lose, the 56-year-old daughter of a vice president vows to stay in national politics as she considers a 2024 presidential bid. But in the short term, Cheney faces a terrible threat from of Republican opponent Harriet Hageman, a Cheyenne cattle-industry lawyer who harnessed the full fury of the Trump movement in her bid to oust Cheney from the House.
“I still hope the poll numbers are wrong,” said Landon Brown, a Wyoming state representative and vocal Cheney ally. “It will be a real shame if she loses. It shows how much control Donald Trump has over the Republican Party.”
Tuesday’s contests in Wyoming and Alaska offer one of the last tests for Trump and his hardline politics ahead of November’s general election. So far, the former president has largely dominated the fight to shape the GOP in his image, having helped install loyalists in key general election matchups from Arizona to Georgia to Pennsylvania.
This week’s contests come just eight days after the FBI executed a search warrant at Trump’s estate in Florida, recovering 11 sets of classified documents. Some were marked “compartmentalized sensitive information,” a special category designed to protect the nation’s most important secrets. The Republican Party initially rallied behind the former president, although reaction became somewhat mixed as more details emerged.
In Alaska, a recent change to state election law gives a periodic Trump critic, U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski, the chance to outlive the former president’s wrath, even after she voted to convict him during his inauguration. second impeachment trial.
Alaska’s top four Senate candidates, regardless of party, will qualify for November’s general election, where voters will rank them in order of preference.
A total of seven Republican senators and 10 Republican House members joined all Democrats in backing Trump’s impeachment in the days after his supporters stormed the US Capitol as Congress tried to certify the victory of President Joe Biden.
Only two of those 10 House members have won their GOP primaries this year. The others lost or refused to be re-elected. Cheney would be only the third to return to Congress if she defies expectations on Tuesday.
And Murkowski is the only pro-impeachment senator to seek re-election this year.
She faces 18 opponents – the most prominent of whom is Republican Kelly Tshibaka, who has been endorsed by Trump – in her bid to retain a seat she has held for nearly 20 years. Trump railed against Murkowski on social media and in his home state of Alaska, where he held a rally with Tshibaka last month in Anchorage.
Unlike vulnerable Republican candidates who have moved closer to Trump in other states this summer, Murkowski continues to promote his bipartisan credentials.
“When you get the ideas from both sides coming together, a little compromise in the middle, that’s what lasts beyond administrations, beyond leadership changes,” the Republican senator said in a posted video. on social media over the weekend. “That’s what allows stability and certainty. And that comes through bipartisanship.”
On the other side of the GOP tent, Sarah Palin, the former Alaska governor and running mate, hopes to spark a political comeback on Tuesday.
Endorsed by Trump, she finished first among 48 candidates to qualify for a special election to replace Representative Don Young, who died in March at the age of 88, after 49 years as the only member of the House of the ‘Alaska. Palin is actually on Tuesday’s ballot twice: once in a special election to finish Young’s term and another for a full two-year term in the House starting in January. She is running against Republican Nick Begich and Democrat Mary Peltola in the special election and against a wider field in the primary.
Always an outsider, Palin has spent the past few days attacking Murkowski, a fellow Republican, and those who instituted the primary and ranked open voting system in 2020.
“I have always said that ranked voting was designed to benefit Democrats and RINOs, especially Senator Lisa Murkowski (who had no chance of winning a Republican nomination) as well as other family members of political dynasty in Alaska,” Palin wrote in a recent statement calling for the repeal of the law.
Back in Wyoming, Cheney’s political survival may hinge on persuading enough Democrats to vote in his Republican primary. While some Democrats have rallied around her, it’s unclear if there are enough of them in the state to make a difference. Biden only got 26% of Wyoming’s vote in 2020.
Many Republicans in the state — and the country — have essentially excommunicated Cheney over his open criticism of Trump. The House GOP ousted her as the No. 3 House leader last year. And more recently, the Wyoming GOP and Republican National Committee censored it.
Anti-Trump groups such as U.S. Representative Adam Kinzinger’s Country First PAC and the Republican Accountability Project have worked to encourage independents and Democrats to support Cheney in recent weeks. They are clearly disappointed with the expected outcome of Tuesday’s election, although some are hopeful about his political future.
“What’s remarkable is that in the face of almost certain defeat, she never wavered,” said Sarah Longwell, executive director of the Republican Accountability Project. “We’ve seen an American national figure forged. It’s funny how small the election feels – the Wyoming election – because she feels bigger than her now.”
Cheney apparently welcomed the defeat by devoting nearly every resource at his disposal to ending Trump’s political career since the insurgency.
She emerged as the leader of the congressional committee investigating Trump’s role in the Jan. 6 attack, giving the Democratic-led panel genuine bipartisan credibility. She also spent the vast majority of her time on committee instead of campaigning at home, a move that still fuels murmurs of disapproval among some Wyoming allies. And she closed the primary campaign with a no-nonsense anti-Trump message.
“In the 246-year history of our nation, there has never been an individual who has posed a greater threat to our republic than Donald Trump,” former Vice President Dick Cheney said in a recent ad. produced by his daughter’s campaign.
He continued, “There is nothing more important she will ever do than lead the effort to ensure that Donald Trump is never near the Oval Office again.”
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