Liz Cheney is the leader of the anti-Trump Republican resistance – where does she go now? | Republicans

She knew the price to pay to challenge Donald Trump but did it anyway. Liz Cheney, crushed in a primary election in Wyoming, was crowned by supporters and commentators like leader of the republican resistance to the former US President.

But this begged a question: what resistance? Fans of the three-term congresswoman who lost her House seat to a Trump-backed challenger warn she may now find herself a general without an army.

In his concession speech in Jackson, Wyoming on Tuesday, Cheney pointed out that had she been willing to repeat Trump’s election lies, she would have stayed in Congress. Instead, she voted to impeach him and, as vice-chairman of the Jan. 6 committee, eviscerated him on prime-time television.

Now, having transferred remaining campaign funds into a new entity, The Great Task, and hints at a presidential raceshe seems determined to embrace her status as the face of the Never Trump movement.

“She set herself up to be that, to be the force that is going to stand up and fight because very few people have come forward and taken such a powerful position,” said Monika McDermottprofessor of political science at Fordham University in New York.

“It helps that she lost, so she’s able to do that. That’s what she hopes to be.

The Great Task, however, may be an understatement for the challenge ahead. Republican critics of Trump seemed to have the wind at their back just months ago, as his polls plummeted, he was beaten by the Jan. 6 committee and the candidates he backed lost primaries in Georgia and elsewhere.

But the 76-year-old managed to turn an FBI search for government secrets at his Florida home into a public relations triumph with its base. Donations poured in and Republicans rallied. Even potential 2024 rivals such as Florida Governor Ron DeSantis have felt compelled to question the Justice Department’s motives.

Meanwhile, Trump’s favorite candidates poured in States like Arizona, Wisconsin and Wyoming. Of the 10 House Republicans, including Cheney, who voted to impeach Trump for inciting the Jan. 6 insurrection, only two remain up for re-election.

McDermott said: “It seemed like he was disappearing from the public eye and a lot of people, especially Republicans, were delighted. But its base is again agitated. FBI research was one source. Major wins were another.

“He bounced back. He has bounced back a lot from where he was after the presidency. At this point, he’s the titular leader of the Republican Party, whether people like it or not.

Frank Luntz, a pollster who has advised many Republican campaigns, agreed that primary wins matter. He said, “Trump is probably stronger with the GOP right now over the Mar-a-Lago raid than at any time in the past six months.

“He turned into a victim and that unites the Republicans around him. So that they [the US justice department] better have something, because he has a new life in the GOP.

‘Everything that’s necessary’

Anti-Trump forces remain scattered. Some Republican senators, like Mitt Romney of Utah, and governors, like Larry Hogan from Maryland, remain ready to express themselves. Disgruntled conservatives have created companies such as the Lincoln Project, Principles First, the Republican Accountability Project and the Bulwark website.

Adam Kinzinger, Cheney’s only Republican colleague on the Jan. 6 committee, started a group called country first to recruit and support anti-Trump candidates. But Kinzinger himself is retiring.

With his legendary name – his father, Dick Cheney, was vice president under George W Bush — Cheney could become the de facto resistance leader, touring the country and television studios, pursuing the case against Trump as an existential threat to democracy. Her work on the January 6 committee will continue until she relinquishes her seat in January. Further television audiences are promised.

Wednesday she told NBC: “I will do whatever it takes to keep Donald Trump out of the Oval Office.”

She added that running for president “is something I’m thinking about and will make a decision in the coming months.”

It would be hard. Cheney would have almost no chance of winning a primary and could expect the Republican National Committee to look for reasons to keep her out of the debate arena. Few people know the pitfalls better than Joe Walsh, a former congressman from Illinois. who confronted trump in 2020.

Walsh said: “There’s no anti-Trump movement in the Republican Party. I love Liz and she’s a hero for what she’s done and God bless her but, as I realized Two years ago there’s no place for me in this party There’s no place for her in this party She knows that She’s got a bigger name so she’ll take advantage , but she has no army to lead.

So where do anti-Trump Republicans go from here?

“What Liz Cheney going to find is that it’s a tough road because if you play this road all the way to the end you have to do what I do which is temporarily be on the Democratic team which is weird for a Tea Party guy like me.

“I know Liz thinks the Republican Party is a threat to our democracy right now. If you believe that, you have to support the people who will defeat the Republicans and right now the only people who are going to defeat the Republicans are the Democrats. I think Liz is getting closer to that point.

Walsh admitted that being part of “Team Democrat” is always a weird feeling.

“This is fucking weird. Once a week I pinch myself and think, ‘How the hell did I get here? I mean, I’m trying to help Victory for Tim Ryan in Ohio but that’s where we are because my old party has become what it has become.

“I don’t know what Liz is going to do. Again, she’s a different animal because she’s a Cheney and she can stay in this party and wreak havoc, but to what end? It cannot be changed.

‘A big mistake’

If Trump is the Republican nominee, Cheney could present itself as an independent in a general election. But it would run the “spoiler risk” of peeling anti-Trump Republicans off Democrat, presumably Joe Biden, and inadvertently giving Trump a path to the White House.

Luntz predicted, “She would actually get more Biden votes than Trump votes.”

Cheney has won the admiration of Democrats and independents, but some observers detect hubris. In her concession speech, she raised her eyebrows as she drew parallels with abraham lincolnthe president who led the union during the Civil War.

Cheney said“The great and original champion of our party, Abraham Lincoln, was defeated in the Senate and House elections before winning the most important election of all. Lincoln finally prevailed, he saved our union, and he defined our obligation as Americans for all of history.

Luntz said, “Some Republicans who admire her tenacity and her convictions resented her comparing herself to Abraham Lincoln. It was a big mistake. Whoever wrote that line really should be fired because instead of being about Trump it was about her. And it caused him irreparable damage.

The Cheneys played in Washington for half a century, from the time Dick Cheney first ran for Congress until Liz Cheney arrived in 2017. She rose to the same position as her father, the No. 3 Republican in the House, only to be ousted as punishment for his dissent.

Then on Tuesday, after the highest turnout of any Republican primary in Wyoming’s 132-year history, Cheney lost to conservative attorney Harriet Hageman by 36 points. Trump cronies rejoiced that this meant the final purge of the Bush–Cheney era, overwhelmed by its populist “America First” brand and baseless conspiracy theories. The Never Trumpers were once again in retirement.

Larry Jacobsdirector of the Center for the Study of Politics and Governance at the University of Minnesota, said: “Liz Cheney has certainly won the hearts of many Democrats and independents, but her power in the Republican Party is no match for Donald Trump.

“We just have to be honest about it. She’s not a real threat to donald trump. She sees herself as some sort of savior but it’s in a party that isn’t really looking for a savior.

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