CASPER, Wyoming — Rep. Liz Cheney, a vocal critic of Donald Trump, is facing strong political headwinds in her reelection bid as the former president and his closest allies go all-out in their efforts to oust her from her at-large Wyoming House seat.
Trump remains popular in Wyoming, his best state in 2020 when he won 70% of the vote despite losing the White House to President Joe Biden. Cheney, facing Trump-endorsed GOP primary challenger Harriet Hageman, faces a difficult task to sway those who like the former president but who might also support her in her Aug. 16 Republican primary race — and doing so while remaining arguably the most prominent anti-Trump voice in the GOP.
Cheney was among 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump over the Jan. 6 Capitol riots, when his supporters sought to block Biden’s Electoral College win from being certified. Cheney, the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, won’t back down from her position that Trump is “dangerous and irrational” and should not be reelected. That is despite the backlash she has faced from her GOP colleagues and state party officials, which included losing her House Republican leadership position in May 2021.
Cheney filed for reelection just days before Trump took his political war to her home turf, holding a rally to boost Hageman and bash Cheney in front of roughly 9,000 supporters in Casper.
During the event, Trump and his allies accused Cheney of being a “back-stabbing RINO” and alleged that she and her father, who held Wyoming’s lone House seat from 1979 to 1989, are “warmongers.” And Trump argued that Cheney’s decision to join the Jan. 6 select committee investigating the riots was beneficial to the Democrats.
While Cheney voted in line with Trump 92.9% of the time between 2017 and 2020, his attempts to link the congresswoman with the Democrats appear to have resonated with many in his base.
“Liz Cheney is one of those politicians who doesn’t really know what the Republican Party wants or needs, so it’s probably best for her to move on and cut ties with the rest of us. That way, she can pursue whatever she wants to do with the Democratic Party and leave the rest of us alone,” Cheyenne, Wyoming, resident Gilbert Duran told the Washington Examiner at the rally, adding that he supported her in previous elections.
Theresa Wright of Cheyenne, who attended the Trump rally, accused Cheney of not spending enough time in the state and called her a “career politician.”
“She’s in Virginia, trying to represent Wyoming living on her father’s legacy. I don’t think she’s worthy of the people of Wyoming,” she said. “All of these continual Bush, Cheney, Clinton family dynasties, these career politicians — it’s time to go.”
Trump allies have pointed to a Club for Growth poll showing Hageman with an advantage of 30 percentage points. But Cheney supporters have dismissed claims that she doesn’t have a path, noting that Democrats can vote in the primary and arguing that many Republicans are frustrated with the way the state party has been run.
“The state party is extreme and does not speak for the vast majority of Wyoming Republicans. At their convention last month, they expelled the delegations from Laramie County (Cheyenne) and Natrona County (Casper), which are the two largest populations in the state,” one Cheney ally said.
“There are so many Republicans disgusted with the vitriol and toxicity of the state party who are supporting Liz and that, plus the fact that there are multiple candidates in the primary against her, plus the fact that the crossover voting bill failed, plus the fact that Liz has strong support from key policy groups in the state because she has delivered on their interests (Petroleum Association, Stock Growers, Mining Association, etc.),” the Cheney supporter said.
Cheney supporters have also applauded her unwavering outspokenness on Trump and his false claim he won the election despite the Republican National Committee and the state party censuring her for her criticisms of the former president.
“Wyoming has always been backed by people that stand up for what’s right. However, Trump has somehow taken over this mentality. Liz Cheney is the only one who stood up beside [Rep. Adam] Kinzinger, and I think she will prevail,” GOP voter Jeff Hendrickson told the Washington Examiner during a brief interview in Sheridan, Wyoming.
Jaeger Stander, a Wyoming resident who also plans to vote in the primary, said he believes her position on Trump will attract swing voters and Democrats in the race.
“I think she’s going to get the liberal party to think more conservatively because they think that she’s this liberal person. But she’s incredibly conservative, and I feel like she doesn’t want big government coming in and taking over,” Stander said. “But at the same time, I feel like with her standing up to that, it will get her more undecided voters or even voters who thought they had to fit the family tribe.”