Trump critic Liz Cheney concedes GOP primary race

“Our job is far from done,” Cheney told supporters Tuesday night in a speech that criticized his party for embracing “dangerous conspiracies” and invoking former President Abraham Lincoln. She said she gave in to Hageman, as early feedback showed her losing by a wide margin.

At a time when most successful Republican candidates have sought Trump’s favors to bolster their candidacies, Cheney has placed the repudiation of the former president at the heart of his own. She cut ads that branded him a coward and a threat to the republic while ridiculing his opponents’ loyalty to his false allegations of fraud in the 2020 election. She spent little time campaigning in Wyoming this summer , which her aides attributed to the volume of threats directed at her, instead pursuing her case against Trump as vice-chairman of the House Select Committee on Jan. 6.

It wasn’t a successful re-election strategy for a state where 70% of voters backed Trump in 2020. But it did help her build a big war chest — she had more than $7 million there. a few weeks — and made her the face of the Republican effort to block Trump’s attempts to return to the White House.

“She’s after someone trying to twist democracy,” former Wyoming senator Alan Simpson, a Republican and Cheney ally, said earlier this summer. “It’s a bigger goal than anything at the polls.”

Cheney has made it clear that she sees herself fighting a bigger battle than for the Wyoming congressional seat. And there are signs that his message has penetrated Republicans even as he winds down his career in the House.

Yet she is the latest – and most high-profile – critic of Trump to fall after directing his fury at them. Of the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump after encouraging his supporters to march on Capitol Hill on January 6, 2021, only two, Rep. Dan Newhouse of Washington and Rep. David Valadao of California, qualified for the general elections this fall. . The others, including Rep. Tom Rice of South Carolina and Peter Meijer of Michigan, either lost their primaries or chose not to run.

Among the retirements is Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, the only other Republican on the Jan. 6 committee.

Trump’s anger is hardly limited to Republicans in the House. In Alaska, he is determined to defeat GOP Senator Lisa Murkowski, who was expected to qualify for the general election on Tuesday but faces a tough fight against a Republican with her seal of approval and two other candidates in the fall. And he’s stepped into local races by supporting, for example, Arizona GOP House Chairman’s opponent Rusty Bowers, who testified before the Jan. 6 committee earlier this summer, in his race for a seat. in the State Senate. (Bowers lost that primary.)

“Donald Trump unleashed a force in the Republican Party that changed him, maybe not forever, but certainly in the short term,” said Sarah Longwell, a Republican strategist who leads anti-Trump efforts, including the Trump bill. Republican Accountability, which seeks to defeat election deniers and boost Republicans who he believes stand up for democracy.

That Cheney could be dispatched so decisively by his constituents is the latest sign of how deeply his party has remade itself in the image of the former president. As she became an increasingly vocal opponent of Trump, the Wyoming state GOP censured her and even voted to stop recognizing her as a Republican, mystifying those who subscribe to more traditional conservative politics.

“In what reality is Liz Cheney not a Republican?” asked Tom Lubnau, a former GOP House chairman in Wyoming who nonetheless endorsed another candidate, his childhood friend Denton Knapp, in the primary. “His father had deep ties. The same group of people who elected her off the island warmly endorsed her in 16 and 18.”

Cheney’s team recruited independents and Democrats to vote for her in the primary, but strategy wasn’t enough to get her over the line in such a deeply red-hot state.

Cheney was a conservative sweetheart when she first ran for Congress in 2016 and quickly became Republican conference chair – the House GOP’s third-place finisher.

But when Trump continued to contest his defeat in the 2020 election long after voters in every state certified it, she decided to speak out against him.

“Those of us who are elected have a duty to the Constitution and a duty to put the Constitution above parties and above politics,” she told The Globe in an interview. ‘last summer. “I don’t believe there is any other way to deal with what Donald Trump was doing.”

Before voting to impeach him, Cheney delivered a fiery speech exposing the deadly Capitol riot at Trump’s feet and stood by his criticisms, prompting the GOP caucus to oust him from leadership. On the January 6 first anniversary, she and her father were the only Republicans in Congress to mark the occasion.

While some of Cheney’s voters seem to have absorbed elements of his warnings about Trump, many still saw his crusade as a betrayal.

“She demolished a lot of Republican principles. I’m a fan of Trump, she’s trying to destroy him, so I’m not a fan of that, ”said Harry Kimbley, a retired Republican who attended a Hageman campaign event in small town Buffalo earlier. this summer.

Other voters polled in Wyoming this summer said they thought Cheney was grandiose, describing his role in the Jan. 6 hearings as an empty exercise that told them nothing more than the extent of Cheney’s ambition. Cheney.

“They pose in front of the cameras. And it’s not really for nothing, it’s just a show for 2024,” Brian Novotny, 69, said over a beer at a sports bar in Casper, Wyo.

In some ways, Cheney has behaved like a presidential candidate — she told CNN in July that she was undecided about a race. Earlier this summer, she gave a speech at the Reagan Library in California, which is a favorite stop for GOP candidates, and called Trump a “domestic threat.”

Some anti-Trump strategists are jumping at the idea of ​​a potential Cheney candidacy, hoping it might act as a spoiler if Trump runs in 2024. If Cheney’s final congressional tally the race still shows she is gaining a sizable share of the Republican base, they believe, a sign she may be eroding her support nationally.

“It’s a referendum on whether there’s a path, there’s a discernible faction” of Republicans willing to vote for a GOP opponent of Trump, said Mike Madrid, a Republican anti-Trump strategist. “The goal here … is to protect the institutions of democracy for this country.”

Jess Bidgood can be contacted at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @jessbidgood.

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