Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) is fueling speculation in 2024 after she said she was “contemplating” a presidential run in the wake of her primary loss on Tuesday night.
But even when the congressman confirmed to three terms what she’s been dodging for months, she gave no further hints about what that run might look like — other than promising to continue the fight against former President Trump.
Either way, her final decision has the potential to shake up the political landscape in 2024 and complicate things for other potential presidential candidates, including Trump and President Biden.
Most strategists agree that Cheney, the conservative scion of former Vice President Dick Cheney, has little chance of winning the White House in 2024. So how she affects the race may depend on how she chooses to run.
She lost her primary on Tuesday in a landslide to a Trump-backed challenger, making it hard to believe she would gain much support in a Republican presidential contest.
“Her running for president is a joke. She would get next to nothing in a Republican primary,” said Keith Naughton, a veteran Republican strategist. “All she would do if she ran as a Republican is help pitch the nomination to Trump by including some protest votes that could go to Trump. [Florida Gov. Ron] DeSantis of [former Vice President Mike] token.”
Gunner Ramer, the political director of the anti-Trump Republican Accountability PAC, acknowledged the uphill battle Cheney would likely face in a GOP presidential primaries, saying it’s clear Republican voters remain firmly aligned with Trump. and his wing of the party.
“The Republican primary voters, many of them galvanized for the America First, MAGA agenda that Donald Trump represents,” he said, using an acronym for “make America great again,” one of Trump’s oft-used political slogans. .
Cheney is also not ruling out the possibility of becoming independent, telling Politico on Wednesday that she is “not focused at all” on such details. Such a step would of course not be inconceivable; she is increasingly at odds with much of her party and polls show she has little support among Republican voters.
And Ramer said Cheney could have an impact on the 2024 presidential contest, no matter what political label she runs under.
He specifically pointed to her work on the House Selection Committee tasked with investigating the Jan. 6, 2021 Capitol riots as a powerful weapon in its political arsenal that could be used to weaken Trump, or at least remind voters of the drama that defined his time in the Oval Office.
“The one thing she has made very clear time and again is that she is determined to prevent Donald Trump from ever returning to power,” Ramer said.
“In the short term, her work on the Jan. 6 commission and the prosecution of the case against Donald Trump and his leadership and those who empowered him will be a top priority for her,” he continued. “The second step will be, if she runs in the elections in 2024, to have a clear voice as a Republican who is constantly beating on Donald Trump and his lies.”
But a Republican strategist who has worked on White House campaigns warned that an independent presidential bid from Cheney could also affect Biden.
The strategist noted that in the latest presidential election, Biden benefited in part from the support of right-wing independents and moderate Republican voters who crossed ideological boundaries out of frustration with Trump.
“You get someone like Cheney as a more typical conservative and I think she takes some votes away from Biden,” the strategist said. “Maybe it makes no difference, but in a close race between Trump and Biden, it could matter a lot in the end.”
Beyond that, however, Cheney’s constituency is unclear, the strategist said, noting that she has isolated most Republicans with her criticism of Trump while her politics are still too conservative to gain significant support from even centrist Democrats.
“I think the big question she needs to consider is: who is her constituency?” said the strategist. “If you have most Republicans saying they either want Donald Trump to come back to power or are interested in DeSantis, a Trump loyalist, where is Cheney’s path?”
Of course, there are still plenty of open questions about the 2024 presidential race. While Trump has openly made a potential comeback bid, it’s also possible he’s opting for another run.
Not only is he immersed in a series of swirling legal scandals, but there are a handful of other ambitious Republicans believed to be watching their own campaigns. Trump remains the current favorite to win the GOP nomination for 2024, although DeSantis is gaining ground in early polls.
And despite Biden’s insistence that he plans to seek a second term in the Oval Office, Democratic voters have become increasingly enthusiastic about new leadership in recent months.
A CNN poll released late last month found that 75 percent of Democrats and Democratic-minded voters want the party to nominate someone else for the White House by 2024 — though the effect of the Democrats’ recent legislative victories those figures have yet to be reconsidered.
Meanwhile, Cheney faces a test of her own in the coming years: whether she can remain a relevant political force in her post-congress life.
In one sign that she is already putting together a strategy, Cheney has already turned her campaign committee into a leadership PAC aimed at educating “the American people about the ongoing threat to our Republic, and to mobilize a united effort.” to oppose any Donald Trump campaign for president,” said Jeremy Adler, a spokesman for Cheney.
That group is expected to serve as Cheney’s primary political vehicle and allow her to remain in the public arena as she weighs in on whether to win the Republican presidential nomination for 2024. News of Cheney’s new political project was first reported by Politico on Wednesday.
Certainly, there is still skepticism about Cheney’s efforts, even among her defenders. Ramer, the political director of the Republican Accountability PAC, openly questioned what “a Liz Cheney constituency” looks like, acknowledging there’s no guarantee she can significantly change the course of the 2024 election.
Still, he said he expects her to stay, at least for now.
“This isn’t the end of Liz Cheney,” he said. “The one thing she has made very clear time and again is that she is determined to prevent Donald Trump from ever returning to power.”