Rep. Liz Cheney loses primary in Wyoming to Trump-backed challenger

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JACKSON, Wyo.– Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., a former House GOP leader and daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, was ousted in a Republican primary Tuesday night, NBC News projects.

Former President Donald Trump’s name was not on the ballot, but his shadow eclipsed the contest as he sought revenge for Cheney’s vote last year to impeach him and his job on the committee investigating his behavior prior to the January 6 attack on the Capitol. . Her hand-picked challenger, Harriet Hageman, beat Cheney in a multi-candidate race.

Speaking at length to her supporters here about Trump and the events of Jan. 6, Cheney acknowledged that she lost. She said she called on Hageman to concede while appearing to draw a contrast to Trump, who refuses to admit he lost the 2020 election and continues to perpetuate the lie that he was robbed of a second term. She also hinted that she wasn’t done with politics.

“This primary election is over,” Cheney said. “But now the real work begins.”

With her parents seated in the audience, Cheney noted that she won her primary two years ago with more than 70% of the vote and could have done the same on Tuesday night if she had bought into the election lies of Trump.

“It was a path I couldn’t and didn’t want to take,” she said.

The fight with Trump cost Cheney his spot in the House Republican leadership last year and now his seat, but it also gave him an elevated platform, a monster fundraising profile and the respect of some. Democrats who reviled his father.

Split-screen footage of Cheney – losing popularity at home, while her profile has risen nationally – has sparked questions about whether she will run for president or slip into another role that will keep her going at the forefront of the anti-Trump bipartisan ensemble.

In her concession speech, Cheney compared herself to Abraham Lincoln, a Republican who lost a Senate race before winning the presidency, ending slavery and winning the Civil War.

Insubordinate by his loss, Cheney compared Trump’s attacks on federal law enforcement after his Mar-a-Lago home was raided last week to his actions before Jan. 6.

“Donald Trump knows that voicing these conspiracies will provoke violence and threats of violence,” she said. “It is entirely predictable that the violence will escalate further.”

Cheney is the latest Republican to fall to a Trump-backed primary challenger after voting to impeach him. Four of the 10 have chosen to retire, three have already lost primaries and two have survived primaries. In either of these two contests, Trump did not endorse a challenger.

On Tuesday, no one could mistake Cheney for a Trump-style populist on his election night.

Held on a sprawling ranch with the breathtaking Teton Mountains as a backdrop, Cheney’s was an incongruous, urban affair that featured a country band, beer and wine bars, a barbecue truck, and plates of fresh fruit.

Valets parked cars for guests and drove them to a set of tables covered in black tents in four-door all-terrain vehicles. A shiny red antique Chevy truck was parked next to the stage set aside for his remarks.

Cheney was first elected to the House seat her father once held in 2016, and she was immediately labeled a rising star because of her background — both her father’s heritage and her experience in as a senior State Department official – and his ability to deliver political messages with force. and succinctly.

In just her second term, she took over as GOP conference leader, the third-most post among Republicans with the minority party. But Jan. 6 and its aftermath served as a political breaking point for Cheney, who quickly turned his back on Trump and his fellow House Republican leaders.

But in the end, his star fell as quickly as it rose in Wyoming and Congress.

Cheney’s January 2021 vote to impeach Trump alienated many other Republicans, who make up about three-quarters of registered voters in the state. In May of that year, House Republicans removed her as conference chair because she continued to criticize Trump and his congressional allies.

She ended her break with the Trump-dominated Republican establishment by joining the Jan. 6 committee and using her platform as vice president to accuse Trump of illegal and unconstitutional efforts to overturn the 2020 election results. , culminating in the attack on the Capitol. .

“Cowboy State is ready to send principled conservative leadership to Washington, DC – someone who will stand up to the radical left and work on the issues they care about: cutting costs, ending the war on American energy, reject Biden’s reckless agenda and take the hammer back from Nancy Pelosi in November,” Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel said in an emailed statement after the race was called. for Hageman.

For some Democrats, Tuesday’s result had both political and personal significance.

“Making friends across the aisle hasn’t been easy at a Covid convention following an insurgency,” said Rep. Jake Auchincloss, D-Mass. “Liz, however, has become a friend — she’s looking for common ground. Washington needs more people willing to listen and work with each other.

Cheney’s stance against Trump prevented him from gaining traction with Republican voters here, where he won the 2020 election by 43 percentage points.

Given Wyoming’s deeply Republican makeup, Hageman is heavily favored to win the general election. Three Democrats were in the running for their party’s nomination on Tuesday, but this primary is too early to call.

Trump’s strenuous support for Hageman — who unsuccessfully ran for Wyoming’s GOP nomination for governor in 2018 — is notable because of his past reservations about him. She had vehemently opposed his candidacy in 2016 and expressed concern that the party would side with “someone who is racist and xenophobic”, The New York Times reported last year. Hageman told the newspaper at the time that she had come to see Trump differently — as “the greatest president of my life.”

Elsewhere on Tuesday, Alaska has a trio of races with national implications.

In the nonpartisan state Senate primary, four candidates will qualify for a November general election that will be determined by preferential voting. Trump made his presence known, backing Kelly Tshibaka over incumbent Senator Lisa Murkowski, who angered Trump after she voted to convict him in his second impeachment trial, following the Jan. 6 uprising. Both are expected to be on the ballot in November.

Meanwhile, a political comeback for former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin hinges on two contests. She is among three candidates in a ranked special election to fill the remaining months of the late Rep. Don Young’s term in the state’s congressional seat. And she is competing in a multi-candidate primary that will send the top four voters to a November general election that will decide the winner of a full two-year term representing the district.

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