Liz Cheney, Trump’s chief antagonist, loses in landslide

JACKSON, Wyo.– Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming was resoundingly defeated by Harriet Hageman in her Republican primary on Tuesday, presenting Donald J. Trump with his most prized trophy yet in his long campaign to purge the Republican Party of his detractors.

Ms. Hageman, a Cheyenne attorney with few political supporters before being waived by Mr. Trump’s endorsement, beat Ms. Cheney, the daughter of a former vice president, by more than 30 percentage points with more than 90% of the votes. counted.

The loss of Mrs. Cheney was as anticipated as it was consequential. The leading Republican voice against Mr. Trump and vice chair of the committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol attack next year will no longer have her perch in Congress fighting a figure she says is a serious threat to American democracy.

Ms Cheney conceded defeat just as the Associated Press called the race, suggesting she was setting a pattern for accepting the will of voters.

“Harriet Hageman got the most votes in this primary – she won,” Ms Cheney told supporters gathered outside at a ranch here. Standing alone on stage, she then implored Americans to stand up against Mr. Trump and others who deny his defeat in the 2020 presidential election. “No citizen of this republic is a bystander,” a- she declared, adding: “We cannot give up the truth and remain a free nation”.

Ms Hageman claimed victory at a rally in Cheyenne, whipping Ms Cheney and “the elites” in Washington. “We are tired of the January 6 commission,” she said. “We’re sick of Liz Cheney.”

Ms. Cheney’s repudiation has clearly shown Republican primary voters’ appetite for retaliation against office holders who openly and aggressively confront Mr. Trump, even as the former president remains embroiled in multiple investigations. Only two of the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump last year will qualify for the general election this fall.

None of those 10, however, had the stature of Ms. Cheney, who, before being ousted from the House Republican leadership last year, was seen as a potential House leader.

His loss, two months after George P. Bush’s landslide defeat in a bid for Texas attorney general, represents the GOP’s complete and perhaps final transition from traditional Bush-Cheney-era conservatism to populism focused on Mr. Atout’s grievances.

Other competitions on Tuesday would reveal the extent of this transformation. In Alaska, Senator Lisa Murkowski, another daughter of local political royalty and one of seven Republican senators who voted to convict Mr. Trump of inciting the insurrection, is in a re-election fight against a field led by Kelly Tshibaka, a Republican and former state official whom Mr. Trump endorsed.

Alaskans were also deciding whether to accept the return of former Governor Sarah Palin, the former vice-presidential candidate whose brutal attacks on the media presaged Mr. Trump’s rise. Ms. Palin is running in both a special runoff for a House seat and a primary for a full term. The state’s ranked voting system allows the top four finishers in the primaries to advance to the general election ballot in November. The results of these races were not expected on Tuesday evening.

In a statement, Mr Trump celebrated Ms Hageman’s victory as a “wonderful result for America”, but quickly took aim at Ms Cheney, snapping her “nasty and judgmental words”.

Ms. Cheney has vowed to continue her fight against the former president, making the primary one front in a longer political war in which she is determined to win.

Focused almost entirely on the Jan. 6 panel and reluctant to campaign publicly while facing death threats and venomous criticism, Ms. Cheney has long resigned herself to her political demise in the state that has elevated her father 44 years ago in the seat she now occupies. She has set her sights beyond Wyoming, arguing that blocking Mr. Trump’s return to the White House is her most important task, a mission that has fueled speculation that she was considering a presidential bid.

Ms. Cheney delivered her concession speech in a measured tone, speaking as if she were on the podium of the Jan. 6 committee at the Capitol rather than standing in front of bales of hay on a ranch in the shadow of the Teton Mountains. She hinted at a potential presidential bid, or at least a grassroots, bipartisan effort, to block Mr Trump’s return, as she reached out to Democrats and independents.

“It’s a fight for all of us together,” she said, noting that her dedication to the party has its limits. “I love my country more,” she said.

Twice invoking the Civil War, Ms. Cheney offered a possible signal of what might follow after her defeat in Congress. “Lincoln was beaten in the Senate and House elections before winning the most important election of all,” she said.

It’s not clear, however, that she would even be competitive in a 2024 GOP primary, a prospect Ms. Cheney seemed to acknowledge this month when she said her “very sick” party could take ” several cycles” to change.

Where the MP saw the disease, however, Ms Hageman spotted an opportunity.

She featured Mr. Trump in her campaign materials and TV ad and echoed his false claims that the 2020 presidential election was rigged, and she was rewarded for it in a state that gave the former president 70% of the vote two years ago, his highest percentage in any state.

Credit…Stephen Speranza for The New York Times

The strategy completed Ms. Hageman’s evolution from a critic of Trump to a vehicle for his political revenge. In 2016, she called Mr. Trump “racist and xenophobic” and tried to block his path to the GOP presidential nomination. But like many Republicans, Ms Hageman has since fallen into line and declared Mr Trump “the greatest president of my life”.

Ms Cheney has also radically changed her view of Mr Trump from reliable ally on policy to antagonist following his refusal to accept defeat.

After a number of Wyoming Republicans squabbled over Mr Trump’s support, and some of his supporters fearing the anti-Cheney vote would fragment, the former president backed Ms Hageman nearly 100 years ago. a year. The daughter of a rancher, she has long been active in Republican politics and came third in the 2018 GOP primary for governor.

As a litigator, Hageman has been a strong advocate on issues important to powerful state interests in ranching, mining and energy, battling environmentalists in court over land use. and federal regulations. She and Ms Cheney were once political allies. Ms Hageman served as an adviser during Ms Cheney’s short Senate campaign in 2014 and endorsed her when she claimed the House seat in 2016.

The women have only debated once, in June, and Ms Cheney used the forum to urge Wyoming residents to ‘vote for someone else’ if they wanted a politician who would break the oath of ‘office.

In the final weeks of the primary, Ms. Cheney aired an ad featuring her 81-year-old father calling Mr. Trump a ‘coward’, making it even clearer that she was using the primary as a stage for her crusade against Mr. Trump. rather than trying to push Mrs. Hageman away. Equally remarkable, Ms. Cheney has withheld millions from her campaign fund, more than $7.4 million last month.

His approach was starkly different from those of other Republicans who mingled with Mr Trump in the aftermath of his 2020 defeat only to stifle their criticism. That list included the likes of Governor Brian Kemp of Georgia and Representatives David Valadao of California and Daniel Newhouse of Washington, the two House Republicans who voted to impeach Mr Trump but managed to reach the general election.

Ms Cheney, however, was defiant, insisting that Mr Trump must be confronted and condemned. His language resonated with the dwindling ranks of anti-Trump Republicans and even more independents and Democratswho she sought to push for a vote in the GOP primary in the final months of the race.

It was far from enough to change the outcome of the race, but such cross-voters were easy to find in upscale Teton County, where Ms Cheney and her parents live. The county, which includes Jackson and surrounding resort communities, is the most liberal in the state, a blue dot on the corner of the reddest of the states.

With Ms. Cheney openly appealing for votes from both Democrats and independents, many here heeded that appeal – even if they couldn’t quite believe they were momentarily registering as Republicans to back a Cheney.

Showing up for mayor of Jackson to vote on Monday, the last day of early voting, Maggie Shipley, who works for a local nonprofit, said she was changing her registration to Republican to enter the primary and vote for Mrs Cheney.

“Election lies are terrifying to me, and preserving democracy is really important, and at least she has that,” Ms Shipley said.

Leave a Comment