Liz Cheney: Trump archenemy ousted in Wyoming election




  • In Business
  • 2022-08-17 02:41:29Z
  • By BBC

Voters in the US state of Wyoming have ousted congresswoman Liz Cheney, a rare Republican critic of former President Donald Trump, in a primary election.

She has been trounced by a relative political newcomer and Trump-backed candidate, Harriet Hageman.

Ms Cheney was one of only two members of her party to join the congressional committee investigating Mr Trump's attempts to cling to power.

The three-term congresswoman was once a rising Republican star.

All 10 Republicans who voted to impeach Mr Trump after his supporters attacked the US Capitol building in January last year have been targeted in a scorched-earth campaign of revenge.

So far, four have retired, and now four have been defeated by his chosen candidates in primary ballots in the states of Wyoming Washington, Michigan and South Carolina.

Only two have successfully maintained their places on the Republican ticket for re-election.

The daughter of ex-Vice-President Dick Cheney, Ms Cheney was the last of the 10 to face the Trumpian assault.

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Seventy per cent of voters in Wyoming cast their ballots for Donald Trump in 2020.

Opinion polls had consistently shown Ms Hageman - who has stated that she believes that election was "rigged" - leading in Wyoming by a large margin.

At the state's junior rodeo finals, held in the city of Casper, some voters told the BBC how they had soured on Ms Cheney.

Harriet Hageman used to be a friend of Liz Cheney
Harriet Hageman used to be a friend of Liz Cheney  

The rodeo president, Chad Westbrook, told me from beneath his 10-gallon hat: "When she goes against the masses, it doesn't work good for us.

"We really liked Dick Cheney, you know, but she's gone too far."

On the other side of the state in the town of Jackson - a small island of wealthy, urban Democratic support that sticks out like a sore thumb in a sea of red, rural Republicanism - Mike Koshmrl is a local politics reporter for the online publication Wyofile.com.

He used to be on the environment beat - charting Wyoming's conservation efforts and ecological challenges in a landscape of stunning natural beauty that stretches from the Rocky Mountains to the prairies in the east.

Now it's a different type of landscape he charts, one just as scarred by fault lines and fissures.

"You know, the widespread belief that the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump in Wyoming is very concerning to me as a journalist, and all I can do is report people's beliefs and report the truth," he said.

"They're not bad people. It is just a heartfelt belief that they have and other than that, they're just ordinary folks here in Wyoming."

But Mr Trump's power has been to harness the concerns of ordinary folks and weave them into extraordinary, seismic political effect, very much in evidence in Wyoming.

Ms Cheney's famous father, once a hate figure of the American left, now finds himself something of an anti-Trump fellow traveller.

"There's never been an individual who is a greater threat to our republic than Donald Trump," Dick Cheney had said, also wearing the obligatory Wyoming 10-gallon hat, in a campaign advert for his daughter.

Outside one polling booth, in a charming wooden schoolroom overshadowed by the stunning Teton Mountains, Democratic voters had answered Ms Cheney's call to switch their registration to Republican in order the lend her their support - itself a sign of how poorly she had rated her chances.

"I've never agreed with one thing Liz Cheney has ever said, but I respected how she fought for democracy," one such voter, a middle-aged woman, told me.

"I'm a Democrat and I came out and voted for Liz Cheney because she's standing up for truth and that's what we need in this country," another man of similar age agreed.

In the suburbs of the state capital of Cheyenne earlier, a group of Republicans were knocking on doors in a show of last-minute support for Ms Cheney - something they clearly accepted was an uphill battle.

But one worth fighting, they had insisted. Evan Wagner had driven 17 hours from Austin, Texas.

"I think when you have Republicans, former Republicans, Democrats, independents, a socialist, knocking on doors for Liz Cheney of all people, you have to look at why," he said, holding his dog Hiko in his arms.

"And I think the reason is she's standing for principle, she's saying I don't care if I lose my job, I'm going to do the right thing."

But their efforts were in vain.

Wyoming primary elections do not normally attract much media attention.

Tuesday's vote is being seen as a test - not just for party but for country too - of how much the legacy of Donald Trump and his election denying narrative continue to loom over this landscape.

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