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Wednesday, December 6, 2023
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Wednesday, December 6, 2023 | Back issues
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Liz Cheney defeated in Wyoming primary

Trump-endorsed Harriet Hageman ousted incumbent Representative Liz Cheney in Wyoming's Republican primary.

(CN) — Attorney Harriet Hageman has beat Representative Liz Cheney in the Republican primary for Wyoming's lone congressional seat, an expected win after Cheney's vocal opposition to former President Donald Trump. 

With 95% of the vote reported, Hageman had received 113,025 votes, or 66.3%, while Liz Cheney took in 49,316 votes, about 28.9%. Trailing candidates included Anthony Bouchard, Denton Knapp and Robyn Belinskey.

“Wyoming has spoken on behalf of everyone all across this great country who believes in the American dream,” Hageman told a crowd of cheering supporters. “Who believes in liberty and who recognizes that our natural rights, the freedom of speech, the freedom of religion, equal protection and due process come from God. They do not come from government — and the government cannot take them away.”

Hageman grew up on her family’s small ranch near Fort Laramie near Wyoming’s border with Nebraska. After working out of her law firm in Cheyenne, the natural resources attorney worked as a senior litigation counsel for the New Civil Liberties Alliance out of Washington, D.C., and represented the state on the Republican National Committee before campaigning against Cheney.

Voting polls had predicted Cheney’s loss by 20 to 29 points behind Hageman since July. The most recent survey from the University of Wyoming indicated only 28% of GOP primary voters supported the incumbent Cheney, while 58% supported her Trump-endorsed challenger.

“Wyoming has spoken on behalf of everyone who understands that our government is a government of by and for the people, Hageman said Tuesday night. "And that we can, and do, control the levers of power when we engage and participate and when we hold our elected officials accountable for their actions. Yes, Wyoming has spoken, and we have made it clear that we are taking our country back.”  

Cheney is the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, who also represented Wyoming’s lone congressional seat before serving in President George W. Bush's administration. She was born in Madison, Wisconsin, and attended middle school in Casper, leading some politicians to deem her a “carpetbagger” during her failed bid for Wyoming’s Senate seat in 2014.

Cheney’s political decline in Wyoming is no surprise.

“It's pretty clear that Donald Trump, despite all his legal troubles, retains a dominant role in Republican nomination politics in Wyoming and many other states,” said Stephen Farnsworth, Professor of Political Science and International Affairs from the University of Mary Washington. “The most pro Republican choice has consistently ended up the nominee in statewide contests across the country, even if the candidate isn't the strongest general election option.”

Despite her conservative background and prominent family name, Cheney lost favor with many voters after demonstrating an aggressive opposition to Trump. First, she cast two congressional votes to certify President Joe Biden’s win in 2020. Then, following the Jan. 6 insurrection, Cheney and nine other Republicans voted to impeach Trump before she joined the special investigation committee regarding the insurrection led by Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

“There’s no question that I’m the underdog in this race, certainly,” Cheney told Wyoming Public Radio on July 29. “But I haven’t changed. My view of policy hasn’t changed, and my view of my obligation to the Constitution hasn’t changed. That’s very much how I’m working for every single vote across our state. But I’ve also been clear that I’m not going to lie, I’m not going to tell people what they want to hear. Certainly, my opponents in the race are doing that, and I think that’s disrespectful of the people of Wyoming and it’s dangerous for our Constitution.”

While conceding to Hageman, Cheney took a similar stance of abiding law and order.

“No office in this land is more important than the principles we're all sworn to protect, and I well understood the potential political consequences of abiding by my duty,” Cheney said Tuesday. “Our republic relies upon the good will of all candidates for office to accept honorably the outcome of elections. And tonight, Harriet Hageman has received the most votes in this primary. She won. I called her to concede the race. This primary election is over.”

So far, only two Republicans that voted to impeach Trump after the Jan. 6 insurrection have survived against Trump-backed challengers this primary season. The contentious decision prompted the Republican National Committee to censure Cheney and Representative Adam Kinzinger of Illinois this past February, calling on the party to refuse to recognize them as Republicans. Cheney was subsequently replaced in her leadership position by Representative Elise Stefanik of New York, a stalwart Trump supporter.

Still, Cheney was not the only congressional candidate who had spoken out against Trump. In 2016, Hageman endorsed Cheney’s bid for the congressional seat and participated in efforts to block Trump’s nomination. But since announcing her intent to run against Cheney, Hageman switched her tune to pro-Trump rhetoric, joining him on stage last May.

That night, Trump instructed voters in Casper, Wyoming, to “Fire Liz” just after Hageman took the stage to disparage the candidate she once called “a proven, courageous, constitutional conservative, someone who has the education, the background and experience to fight effectively for Wyoming on a national stage.”

Throughout her last month of campaigning, both Cheneys released television ads vowing to ensure Trump would never achieve re-election.

“He is a coward,” Dick Cheney said in an ad. “A real man wouldn’t lie to his supporters. He lost his election and he lost big. I know it, he knows it and deep down I think most Republicans know it."

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