CHEYENNE, Wyoming (AP) — Wyoming Representative Liz CheneyDonald Trump’s fiercest Republican opponent in Congresslost a GOP primary soundly, falling to a rival backed by the former president in a rout that cemented his grip on the party base.
The third-term congresswoman and her allies entered Tuesday pessimistic about her prospects, aware that Trump’s support gave Harriet Hageman a significant boost in the state where he won by the largest margin in the campaign. 2020. Cheney was already considering a political future beyond Capitol Hill that could include a 2024 presidential race, potentially putting her on another collision course with Trump.
Calling Trump a “very serious threat and risk to our republic” on Wednesday, she told NBC that she thinks defeating him will take “a broad, united front of Republicans, Democrats and independents – and that’s what I intend to be a part of it.” She declined to say whether she would run for president, but acknowledged it was “something I’m thinking about.”
Cheney described her major loss on Tuesday night as the start of a new chapter in her political career as she addressed a small group of supporters, including her father, former Vice President Dick Cheney, on the brink of a vast field flanked by mountains and bales. of hay.
“Our job is far from done,” she said, referring to Abraham Lincoln, who also lost congressional elections before taking the presidency and preserving the union.
The key results — and the roughly 30-point margin — were a powerful reminder of the GOP’s rapid shift to the right. A party once dominated by national security-minded, business-friendly conservatives like his father is now owned by Trump, driven by his populist appeal and, above all, his denial of the 2020 election defeat.
Such lies, which have been emphatically rejected by federal and state election officials as well as Trump’s own attorney general and the judges he appointed, transformed Cheney from an occasional critic of the former president into the clearest voice within the GOP warning that he poses a threat to Democratic standards. She is the top Republican on the House panel investigating the January 6, 2021 insurrection at the United States Capitol by a crowd of Trump supportersan attack she referred to when nodding to her political future.
“I have said since January 6 that I will do whatever it takes to ensure that Donald Trump is never near the Oval Office again – and I mean it,” she said Tuesday.
Four hundred miles (645 kilometers) east of Cheney’s concession speech, festive Hageman supporters gathered at an extensive outdoor rodeo and western culture festival in Cheyenne, many wearing cowboy boots, hats and jeans.
“Obviously, we’re all very grateful to President Trump, who recognizes that Wyoming only has one representative in Congress and we need to make that count,” said Hageman, an industry attorney. breeding who finished third in a previous gubernatorial bid.
Echoing Trump’s conspiracy theories, she falsely claimed the 2020 election was ‘rigged’ as she courted her loyalists ahead of the election.
Trump and his team celebrated Cheney’s loss, which could represent his biggest political victory in a primary season full of them. The former president called the results a “complete rebuke” of the January 6 committee.
“Liz Cheney should be ashamed of herself, the way she acted and her mean and judgmental words and actions towards others,” he wrote on his social media platform. “Now she can finally disappear into the depths of political oblivion where I am sure she will be much happier than she is right now. Thank you WYOMING!”
The news offered a welcome break from Trump’s focus on his growing legal entanglements.. Just eight days earlier, federal agents executing a search warrant recovered 11 sets of classified documents from the former president’s Florida estate.
Meanwhile in Alaska, which also held elections on Tuesday, Senator Lisa Murkowski, another prominent Trump GOP critic, walked out of her primary. Sarah Palin, the 2008 GOP vice-presidential candidate and staunch ally of Trump, was also destined for the November general election in the race for Alaska’s only seat in the United States House.
But most of the attention was on Cheney, whose loss would have been unthinkable just two years ago. The daughter of a former vice president, she comes from one of Wyoming’s most prominent political families. And in Washington, she was the No. 3 Republican in the House, an influential voice in GOP politics and politics with an outstanding conservative voting record.
Cheney will now be kicked out of Congress at the end of her third and final term in January. She is not expected to leave Capitol Hill quietly.
She will continue her leadership role on the congressional panel investigating the Jan. 6 attack until it disbands at the end of the year. And she is actively considering running for the White House in 2024 — as a Republican or an independent — after vowing to do everything in her power to fight Trump’s influence in her party.
With Cheney’s loss, the Republicans who voted to impeach Trump are dying out.
A total of seven Republican senators and 10 Republican House members backed Trump’s impeachment in the days after his supporters stormed the US Capitol as Congress tried to certify President Joe Biden’s decision. victory. Only two of those 10 House members have won their primaries this year. After two Senate retirements, Murkowski is the only Republican in the Senate on the ballot this year.
Cheney was forced to enlist the help of the state’s small Democratic minority in her bid to secure a victory. But Democrats across America, including major donors, have taken notice. She raised at least $15 million for her election, an astonishing figure for a Wyoming political contest.
Voters responded to interest in the race. With just over half of the votes counted, turnout was about 50% higher than the 2018 Republican primary for governor.
If Cheney does eventually run for president — as a Republican or an Independent — don’t expect her to win all three of Wyoming’s electoral votes.
“We love Trump. She tried to impeach Trump,” Cheyenne voter Chester Barkell said of Cheney on Tuesday. “I don’t trust Liz Cheney.”
And in Jackson, Republican voter Dan Winder said he felt betrayed by his congresswoman.
“Over 70% of the state of Wyoming voted Republican in the last presidential election and she turned around and voted against us,” said Winder, a hotel manager. “She was our representative, not hers.”
Peoples reported from New York. AP writers Thomas Peipert in Cheyenne and Jill Colvin in New York contributed.