Liz Cheney is the final pro-impeachment Republican facing a Trump-backed primary challenger as Wyoming voters decide her political fate next week

  • In Politics
  • 2022-08-10 16:08:07Z
  • By Business Insider
Liz Cheney
Liz Cheney  
  • Wyoming's Republican primary is set for August 16.

  • Rep. Liz Cheney faces a tough reelection battle against a Trump-backed challenger, Harriet Hageman.

  • Cheney is the last pro-impeachment House Republican to face her primary.

In six days, Wyoming will determine the fate of its sole member of Congress, Rep. Liz Cheney, in the nation's most high-profile House primary of the year.

Cheney's reelection has seized the spotlight ever since former President Donald Trump promised to exact revenge on the 10 members of his party who voted to impeach him over the January 6, 2021, Capitol siege. Then-the highest-ranking Republican of the bunch, Cheney became Trump's No 1. Target.

The 56-year-old congresswoman has faced an uphill battle to hold on to her seat in a state that Trump won in 2020 by the largest margin nationwide. He's put his political machinery behind Harriet Hageman, a natural resources attorney and former Republican National Committeewoman, to defeat Cheney, a three-term lawmaker and daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney. The race has largely represented a battle between the GOP's traditional conservatives and its MAGA faction, testing the party's future.

"It's been a really, really interesting time here in Wyoming. Passions are running high. People are feeling really strongly," Susan Stubson, a Cheney supporter and precinct committeewoman for the state's Natrona County Republican Party, told Insider.

Cheney is the final pro-impeachment House Republican who aims to fend off a Trump-backed challenger. The incumbents have had mixed success: three have lost their primaries and two have won. The remaining four are retiring.

"It is very clear that to be an impeachment Republican right now has made it almost impossible to get reelected, and that's just such an indictment of the Republican Party today," Gunner Ramer, political director of the anti-Trump coalition Republican Accountability Project, told Insider.

Polls show Hageman with a commanding double-digit lead over Cheney. A former never-Trumper, Hageman has now rallied behind him and amplified his false claims about the 2020 election. The 59-year-old lawyer has campaigned for months across the western state, underscoring her Wyoming roots and blasting Cheney as out-of-touch with her constituents. Hageman's campaign has amassed a stunning $4 million for her candidacy, though it's been dwarfed by Cheney's $13 million fundraising total.

"The people of Wyoming are fed up with Liz Cheney and want a member of Congress who actually does her job and represents the people who hired her," Tim Murtaugh, a spokesperson for the Hageman campaign, told Insider in a statement. "Cheney should be standing up to the Biden administration, but instead she's consumed with furthering her own personal war with President Trump and plotting her own national political future. But this race isn't about Cheney - it should be about the people of Wyoming. That's why Harriet Hageman will be the next congresswoman from Wyoming."

Cheney's supporters are skeptical she's lagging that far behind Hageman.

"I think it's extremely close and no one has a crystal ball but there's a very large group of supporters that just aren't as outspoken as those who are voting against her," Landon Brown, a Republican state lawmaker and Cheney ally, told Insider.

Cheney has spent much of the summer focused on the House select committee's investigation into the Capitol attack. As the panel's vice chair, she's helped lay out the case against Trump during eight public hearings held in June and July, all the while campaign season has been in full swing in Wyoming.

Donald Trump Jr., Harriet Hageman
Donald Trump Jr., Harriet Hageman  

Most Americans believe Trump is at least partially responsible for the January 6 attack, but the new evidence presented by the committee has done little to sway the public's thinking beyond that, according to several recent polls. Republicans, particularly, have been less likely to change their minds about the former president. Trump's favorability rating has largely been unchanged since the 2020 election, a Monmouth University poll released Tuesday found. 

"The committee hearings have been fairly convincing. It just really solidifies my support for Representative Cheney," Joe McGinley, state committeeman of Wyoming's Natrona County Republican Party, told Insider. "Here in our state, I think the sides have formed."

Cheney has acknowledged the threat she's up against. Her campaign has reached out to Democratic voters to boost her chances in the Republican primary. Though statistically, those crossover votes in a deep red state likely won't be enough to cross the finish line.

"Wholesale reliance on the Democrats in Wyoming is not gonna get her there, nor, I think, does the Cheney campaign have any expectations that that's going to happen," Stubson said. Cheney's campaign declined to comment for this story.

Early voting has been underway since July 1. The state's most populous county, home to the capital city Cheyenne, has seen significant turnout with almost 8,000 votes cast as of Monday, Laramie County clerk Debra Lee told Insider. That makes up 17% of the county's registered voters - a "big number" compared to recent elections, Lee said.

In the state's second-most populated county, Natrona, over 4,000 ballots have been received as of Tuesday.

"I'm not gonna call it a record, but it's higher than normal," Natrona County clerk Tracy Good told Insider.

The state has been awash with campaign posters and billboards throughout the summer, reminding voters of the highly anticipated election. For Wyomingites who have closely followed the race, next Tuesday can't come fast enough.

"I can't wait for all the signs to be gone. They're all over town now," McGinley said.


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