Liz Cheney concedes defeat in Wyoming’s Republican primary

A poll worker talks to people as they line up to vote in the Republican primary election at the Old Wilson Schoolhouse Community Center in Wilson, Wyoming on August 16.PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP/Getty Images

Liz Cheney conceded defeat in her congressional bid on Tuesday, as Republicans in Wyoming gave their tacit approval of Donald Trump’s bid to nullify the 2020 presidential election.

The former US president campaigned vehemently against Ms Cheney in Tuesday’s primary — part of an ongoing effort to exact revenge on party dissidents ahead of a potential bid to return in 2024. The three-term Wyoming congresswoman serves as vice chair of the legislative committee investigating the attack on the January 6, 2021 vs. Capitol by Mr. Trump’s supporters.

Polls throughout the race showed Ms. Cheney trailing Trump-backed challenger Harriet Hageman by more than 20 percentage points. Ms Cheney conceded early in the count, with Ms Hageman comfortably ahead.

In the election, Ms Cheney took direct aim at the slide into authoritarianism she said the ex-president represents, accusing him in her latest campaign ad of “trying to destroy our republic”.

This adamant opposition to Mr. Trump has fueled speculation that Ms. Cheney is plotting a 2024 presidential campaign. On Election Day, she vowed to continue working to stop Mr. Trump no matter the cost to her own career.

“Today, whatever the outcome, is definitely the start of a battle that will continue,” she said after Tuesday’s vote. “We are facing a time when our democracy is really under attack.”

Mr. Trump is currently facing the escalation of criminal investigations into his conduct in the line of duty. Last week, the FBI searched his Mar-a-Lago estate.

Voting in this deep-red state is just the latest contest in which the former president has sought to tighten his grip on the party. Of 10 House Republicans who, like Ms. Cheney, voted to impeach him last year, three others have already fallen to Mr. Trump’s candidates in their primaries. Two survived their nomination contests, and four did not stand for re-election.

Ms. Cheney is Republican royalty, a former official in the George W. Bush administration and the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney. She built a reputation in office as a staunch conservative, defending guns, opposing abortion and supporting the oil industry. In Congress, she voted with Mr. Trump more than 90% of the time.

But the 56-year-old lawyer has become one of the few prominent Republicans to break with him over his attempts to throw his Defeat in the 2020 election. The party’s congressional caucus has since stripped her of her position as the third-highest-ranking Republican in the House, while the Wyoming state party has expelled her entirely.

In a state that gave Mr. Trump nearly 70% of its vote in 2020, many Ms. Cheney voters see her split from him as an unforgivable sin.

“No true Republican would work with Democrats to overthrow a Republican president,” said Shianne Huston, 56, an antique store owner from Mills, Wyo. “On January 6, the government was not threatened, it wasn’t an armed takeover. It’s just overblown.

Tom Mattimore, a 72-year-old retired bootmaker in Laramie, Wyo., said Ms. Cheney was already in trouble because of doubts she was spending a lot of time in the state, the least populated in the country, whose 600,000 inhabitants are accustomed to contact with their elected representatives. “Liz Cheney hasn’t traveled much. We don’t like that in those areas,” Mr. Mattimore said.

He said he believed the FBI’s search of Mar-a-Lago, which recovered classified documents that Mr. Trump took from the White House, was part of a sinister plot: “We have a community of intelligence that is actively engaged in trying to overthrow the United States. states.”

Still, Ms. Cheney retained at least some of her supporters. At a community center in Jackson, the mountain tourist resort near her home, many voters expressed admiration for their congressman’s commitment to principle.

“She stood up and had the courage, in my opinion, to do what is right. She knew what she was getting into, but she did it anyway,” said CJ Johnson, a 32-year-old biologist.

Warren Van Genderen said he agreed with Mr Trump on the policy, particularly his tough talk on China and his support for the oil and gas industry. But Mr Van Genderen, 84, had always thought Mr Trump was “a bozo, a buffoon” and “not presidential”. The former president’s actions on January 6 heightened his concern.

“It took a lot of nerve for Cheney to take on Trump. I hope she can continue,’ he said as he stood in the afternoon sun after casting his vote. “He’s doing the Republican Party a disservice.”

The fault lines that run through the party nationwide are particularly acute in Wyoming. A far-right faction led by state party chairman Frank Eathorne has taken control of the local leadership apparatus in recent years.

Pat Sweeney, a 68-year-old Republican lawmaker who supported Ms Cheney in the primary, said the state party had made a concerted effort to weed out moderates by recruiting candidates for primary campaigns focused on on hotspots of the culture war, such as the fight against protections for transgender people.

“A number of us have been really nailed down by the state party. There’s a real movement to get people like me out,” he said at a Republican Party event at a park in Casper, Wyo.

Part of Ms. Cheney’s re-election strategy involved reaching out to Democrats and independents, urging them to change their party registrations to Republican to vote for her.

Kimberly Holloway, a 52-year-old Casper lawyer and former Democratic Socialist City Council member, made the switch.

“I disagree with Liz Cheney on 99% of things, but on this point she stands on the right side of history,” she said. “This question overshadows everything else. The attitude of the Republican Party is a threat to our democracy, to our fellow citizens, to our elections.

Our Morning Update and Evening Update newsletters are compiled by Globe editors, giving you a concise summary of the day’s most important headlines. register today.

Comments are closed.