Liz Cheney, Representative from Wyomingthe most ardent Republican critic of donald trump in Congress, promised to continue his fight against the former president and the Holocaust denial movement he leads in a speech Tuesday evening after conceding defeat in his primary.
“This primary election is over,” Cheney said in his speech. “But now the real work begins.”
The last of the 10 House Republicans who voted for Trump’s second impeachment to face voters, Cheney now becomes the eighth who will not return to the House next year. Cheney’s loss, while widely anticipated, represents an important marker in the larger struggle over the leadership of the Republican Party. Once seen as a relative newcomer, she was kicked out of the House GOP leadership last year over her adamant opposition to the former president and has trailed in the polls at home this year as she helped leading the House Select Committee investigating the January 6, 2021 attack on the United States Capitol.
Although she made no announcement about her plans, Cheney hinted at a future in elective politics.
“Our party’s great and original champion, Abraham Lincoln, was defeated in the Senate and House elections before winning the most important election of all,” she said. “Lincoln finally prevailed, he saved our union and he defined our obligation as Americans for all of history.”
Cheney’s attempt to project dignity in defeat was in itself a clear rejoinder to Trump’s behavior since losing the 2020 election.
“No seat in the House, no office in this country is more important than the principles we are all sworn to protect. And I fully understood the potential political consequences of doing my duty,” Cheney said. “Our Republic is counting on the good will of all the candidates for the elections to honorably accept the results of the elections. And tonight, Harriet Hageman received the most votes in this primary. She won. I called her to concede the race.
Despite his conservative credentials and party pedigree, his role as Trump’s chief GOP critic on Capitol Hill made him a heavy underdog in a state the former president won with nearly 70% of the vote in 2020. His enduring popularity there, coupled with Cheney’s role as Deputy Chairman of the House Jan. 6 Committee, has made the three-term congresswoman and daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney a prime target for allies. of Trump.
Cheney said American democracy faces an existential threat — that “our survival is not guaranteed” — calling on Republican efforts at the state level to decertify the 2020 election results and midterm candidates from the GOP who have already begun to cast doubt on future votes.
“If we don’t condemn conspiracies and lies, if we don’t hold those responsible accountable, we will excuse that conduct and it will become a hallmark of every election,” Cheney said. “America will never be the same again.”
Trump’s grip on the GOP has been proven time and time again since he left Washington. With Wyoming’s vote, Cheney becomes the fourth Republican in the House to vote to impeach Trump for losing his primary. Four others were not standing for another term. The two survivors to date, California and Washington, have benefited from their states’ nonpartisan primary system. Cheney had no such cushion, though a late push for Democrats and independents to register for the GOP primary might have softened the final tally somewhat.
Key Republicans on Capitol Hill had coalesced around Hageman, who embraced Trump’s bogus voter fraud claims and called the 2020 contest “rigged.” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, another Hageman supporter, said in an appearance on Fox News on Monday that the election in Wyoming “is going to be a referendum on the Jan. 6 committee.”
Cheney also addressed the recent search of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence in Florida on Tuesday, decrying the former president’s efforts to incite anger among his supporters and potentially endanger FBI agents involved in the raid. by publishing some of their names.
“It was intentional and malicious. No patriotic American should condone these threats or be intimidated by them,” Cheney said. “Our great nation should not be ruled by a social media provoked mob.”
As Cheney issued a dire warning to Jackson, Hageman, at his Eastern Hours victory rally in Cheyenne, thanked Trump and congressional Republicans for their support.
“Wyoming showed today that while it’s not easy, we can unseat entrenched politicians who believe they have risen above the people they are meant to represent and serve,” Hageman said. .
In a post on his own social media platform, Trump hailed Cheney’s loss, calling it a “wonderful result for America,” before denouncing it as “wicked” and “moral.”
“Now she can finally fade into the depths of political oblivion where I am sure she will be much happier than she is right now,” Trump wrote.
If Cheney is threatened with being cast into her party’s desert, a prominent figure from her recent past hopes to return after more than a decade of absence from the electoral map. Former Alaska governor and 2008 vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin, whose rise marked a precursor to the party’s Trump era, returns to the polls on Tuesday. In this new iteration, she is the Trump-endorsed nominee in a three-deep field vying to fill the rest of the late GOP Rep. Don Young’s headquarters.
Palin, who resigned as governor in 2009, clashes in the special election with Nick Begich III, the Republican scion of the state’s most legendary Democratic family, and former Democratic state Rep. Mary Peltola, who was endorsed by independent Al Gross after dropping out of the race despite her participation in the last four. If none of the three active candidates obtains a majority of the votes, the election will be decided by a calculation of the ranked choices which begins at the end of the month.
The three special election candidates — along with nearly 20 other candidates, including Republican Tara Sweeney — are also running in a concurrent primary that will determine the four finalists for the November election that will decide who wins the General House seat for the next full term.
As Cheney’s fate in Wyoming grabbed headlines, Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski, a Republican who voted to convict Trump in his second impeachment trial, also faced fresh competition this year fueled by his lack of loyalty to the former president. Unlike Cheney, however, Murkowski — herself the last of a proud statewide political dynasty — is a better bet at defeating the forces arrayed against her.
This is largely due to Alaska’s nonpartisan top-four primary, which, like the House race, sends the top four candidates to the general election, which will be decided by a choice vote if no one receives. the majority. That process should help Murkowski against Trump-backed challenger Kelly Tshibaka, the former commissioner of the Alaska Department of Administration.
Murkowski has in the past enjoyed broad support across partisan lines in a state that elected his father, Frank Murkowski, first to the Senate and then as governor. He then nominated his daughter to her current position in 2002. When she was defeated in a primary in 2010 during the tea party wave, Murkowski launched a written campaign and defeated GOP candidate Joe Miller in autumn.
The state’s gubernatorial primary also features some familiar names: Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy and former Independent Gov. Bill Walker, who likely would have lost to Dunleavy in his 2018 re-election bid had he not dropped shortly before the election and endorsed Democrat Mark Begich.
Dunleavy, now seeking a second term, won the all-around by less than 10 points.
This story has been updated with additional developments.