CHEYENNE, Wyoming –
Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, Donald Trump’s fiercest Republican opponent in Congress, resoundingly lost a Republican primary to a challenger backed by the former US president in a loss that tightened her grip on the party’s base.
The third-term congresswoman and her allies entered Tuesday pessimistic about her prospects, aware that Trump’s endorsement gave Harriet Hageman a sizeable boost in the state where she won by the largest margin during the 2020 campaign. Cheney was already watching. toward a political future beyond Capitol Hill that could include a 2024 presidential bid, which could put her on another collision course with Trump.
On Wednesday, calling Trump a “very serious threat and risk to our republic,” he told NBC that he believes defeating him will require “a broad, united front of Republicans, Democrats and independents, and that’s what I intend to be a part of.” . He declined to say whether he would run for president, but admitted it is “something I’m thinking about.”
Cheney described his primary loss Tuesday night as the start of a new chapter in his political career as he addressed a small group of supporters, including his father, former Vice President Dick Cheney, at the edge of a vast field flanked by mountains and bales. hay
“Our work is far from done,” he said, evoking Abraham Lincoln, who also lost congressional elections before rising to the presidency and preserving the union.
The primary results, and the roughly 30-point margin, were a powerful reminder of the GOP’s rapid swing to the right. A party once dominated by business-friendly, national security-oriented conservatives like his father now belongs to Trump, buoyed by his populist appeal and, above all, by his denial of defeat in the 2020 elections.
Such lies, which have been roundly rejected by federal and state election officials along with Trump’s own attorney general and the judges he appointed, transformed Cheney from an occasional critic of the former president to the clearest voice within the GOP warning which represents a threat to democracy. She is the top Republican on the House panel investigating the January 6, 2021 insurrection at the US Capitol by a mob of Trump supporters, an attack she referred to by nodding in agreement. head over his 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 that,” he said Tuesday.
Four hundred miles (645 kilometers) east of Cheney’s concession speech, festive Hageman supporters gathered at a sprawling outdoor rodeo and festival of Western culture in Cheyenne, many wearing cowboy boots, hats and blue jeans.
“Obviously, we are all very grateful to President Trump, who recognizes that Wyoming has only one representative in Congress and we have to make it count,” said Hageman, a cattle industry attorney who had finished third in a previous run for governor. .
Echoing Trump conspiracy theories, he falsely claimed the 2020 election was “rigged” while courting his loyalists in the run-up to the election.
Trump and his team celebrated Cheney’s defeat, which may represent his biggest political victory in a primary season full of them. The former president called the results “a complete rebuke” to the January 6 committee.
“Liz Cheney should be ashamed of herself, the way she acted and her spiteful and prudish words and actions towards others,” he wrote on his social media platform. “She Now she can finally she can disappear into the depths of political oblivion where, I am sure, she will be much happier than she is 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 records from the former president’s estate in Florida.
Cheney’s defeat 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 of Representatives, an influential voice in GOP politics and politics with an excellent conservative voting record.
Cheney will now be forced to leave Congress at the end of his third and final term in January. She is not expected to leave the Capitol quietly.
He will continue in his 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 a run for the White House in 2024, as a Republican or an independent, having promised to do everything in her power to fight Trump’s influence in her party.
With the loss of Cheney, the Republicans who voted to impeach Trump are dying out.
In all, seven Republican senators and 10 Republican members of the House backed Trump’s impeachment in the days after his supporters stormed the US Capitol as Congress tried to certify President Joe Biden’s victory. Only two of those 10 House members won their primaries this year. After two withdrawals from the Senate, Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska is the only Senate Republican on this year’s ticket.
Cheney was forced to enlist the help of the state’s small Democratic minority in his quest for victory. But Democrats across the United States, including major donors, have taken notice. She raised at least $15 million for her election, a staggering figure for a political race in Wyoming.
Voters responded to interest in the race. With just over half of the votes counted, turnout was 50% higher than in the 2018 Republican gubernatorial primary.
If Cheney does eventually run for president, either as a Republican or an independent, don’t expect him to win all three of Wyoming’s electoral votes.
“We like Trump. He 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 congressman.
“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.