CHEYENNE, Wyo (AP) – Wyoming Representative Liz Cheney, a leader in the Republican opposition to former President Donald Trumpfights Tuesday to keep her seat in the US House as voters weigh in on the GOP.
Cheney’s team is bracing for a loss to a Trump-backed challenger in the state in which he won by the largest margins during the 2020 campaign.
Win or lose in scarlet Wyoming, the 56-year-old daughter of a vice president vows not to disappear from national politics as she contemplates making a presidential bid in 2024. But in the short term, Cheney faces a serious threat from Republican opponent Harriet Hageman, a Cheyenne farm industry attorney who has harnessed the full wrath of the Trump movement in its bid to remove Cheney from the House.
“I’m still hopeful the polls are wrong,” said Landon Brown, a Wyoming state representative and vocal ally of Cheney. “It will be a real shame if she loses. It shows how much stranglehold Donald Trump has on the Republican Party.”
Tuesday’s games in Wyoming and Alaska provide one of the final tests for Trump and his kind of tough politics ahead of November’s general election. So far, the former president has largely dominated the battle to mold the GOP in his image, helping install loyalists in key general election matchups from Arizona to Georgia to Pennsylvania.
This week’s games come just eight days after the FBI issued a search warrant at Trump’s Florida estate, recovering 11 sets of classified records. Some were marked as “compartmented sensitive information,” a special category intended to protect the country’s top secrets. The Republican Party initially sided with the former president, though reaction became somewhat mixed as more details emerged.
In Alaska, a recent change in state electoral law gives a periodic Trump critic, US Senator Lisa Murkowskia chance to survive the former president’s wrath even after she voted to convict him in his second impeachment trial.
The top four candidates for the Alaska Senate, regardless of party, will advance to the November general election, where voters will rank them in order of preference.
In all, seven Republican senators and ten Republican members of the House joined every Democrat in support of Trump’s impeachment in the days after his supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol as Congress tried to confirm President Joe Biden’s victory.
Only two of those 10 House members have won their GOP primaries this year. The rest have lost or refused to seek re-election. Cheney would be only the third to return to Congress if she exceeds expectations on Tuesday.
And Murkowski is the only pro-impeachment senator to stand for re-election this year.
She faces 18 opponents — the most prominent of which is Republican Kelly Tshibaka, who is backed by Trump — in her bid to retain a seat she has held for nearly 20 years. Trump railed against Murkowski on social media and in her home state of Alaska, where he hosted a meeting with Tshibaka in Anchorage last month.
Unlike vulnerable Republican candidates who dealt with Trump in other states this summer, Murkowski continues to promote her bipartisan credentials.
“If you get the ideas from both sides together, a little bit of compromise in the middle, this is a little bit longer than governments, past changes in leadership,” the Republican senator said in a video posted to social media over the weekend. . “This provides stability and security. And it is because of duality.”
On the other side of the GOP’s tent, Sarah Palinthe former Alaska governor and vice presidential candidate hopes to make a political comeback on Tuesday.
Endorsed by Trump, she finished first of 48 candidates who qualified for a special election to replace Rep. Don Young, who died in March at age 88, after 49 years as a lone member of the Alaska House. Palin is actually in Tuesday’s vote twice: once in a special election to complete Young’s term and another for a full House term starting in January. She’s going up against Republican Nick Begich and Democrat Mary Peltola in the special election and a larger field in the primaries.
Palin, once an outsider, has in recent days attacked Murkowski, a fellow Republican, and those who instituted the open primary and ranked electoral system in 2020.
“I’ve been saying all along that ranked-choice voting was meant to favor Democrats and RINOs, especially Senator Lisa Murkowski (who had no chance of a Republican nomination), along with other family members of the Alaskan political dynasty,” Palin wrote in a recent statement calling for the law to be repealed.
Back in Wyoming, Cheney’s political survival may depend on convincing enough Democrats to vote in her Republican primaries. While some Democrats have rallied behind her, it’s unclear if there are enough in the state to make a difference. Biden won just 26% of the vote in Wyoming in 2020.
Many Republicans in the state — and in the country — have essentially excommunicated Cheney for her outspoken criticism of Trump. The House GOP ousted her as the No. 3 house leader last year. And more recently, the Wyoming GOP and Republican National Committee censored her.
Anti-Trump groups such as US Representative Adam Kinzinger’s Country First PAC and the Republican Accountability Project have been working in recent weeks to encourage independents and Democrats to support Cheney. They are clearly disappointed with the expected outcome of Tuesday’s election, although some are hopeful about her political future.
“Remarkably, despite almost certain defeat, she never hesitated,” said Sarah Longwell, executive director of the Republican Accountability Project. “We’ve seen a national American figure being faked. It’s funny how small the election feels — the Wyoming election — because it feels bigger than it does now.”
Cheney appears to have welcomed defeat by devoting almost every resource at her disposal to ending Trump’s political career since the uprising.
She emerged as a leader on the congressional committee investigating Trump’s role in the Jan. 6 attack, giving the Democrat-led panel real bipartisan credibility. She has also spent the vast majority of her time on the committee rather than the campaign path home, a decision that continues to spark murmurs of disapproval from some Wyoming allies. And she closed the primary campaign with an unwavering anti-Trump message.
“In the 246-year history of our country, there has never been a person more threatening our republic than Donald Trump,” said former Vice President Dick Cheney in a recent ad for his daughter’s campaign.
He continued, “There is nothing more important she will ever do than make the effort to ensure that Donald Trump is never near the Oval Office again.”