This has been a work in progress for several years, and Liz Cheney has long been destined to leave the ranks of GOP elected officials with the Trump coalition and its policy agenda in the ascendency. She is a NeverTrumper at heart — as are many elected GOP officials, particularly in the Senate. But they all desired to hold on to their elected positions long enough to outlast the Trump Presidency. That is why so many in the Senate sat by and watched Joe Biden be coronated by the media and Big Tech when everyone connected to the Senate as an institution knows Biden was one of the dumbest individuals EVER to have been a Senator and is currently well on his way to full dementia.
Liz Cheney has never had a comfortable “home” in politics as an elected official from Wyoming. She is 54 years old and first ran for elected office in 2014 when she decided to challenge incumbent Wyoming GOP Senator Mike Enzi. She grew up in Virginia, not Wyoming, while her father served in the House of Representatives. After graduating from law school she worked in a variety of government positions, as well as spending some time in major law firms in Washington DC. What she never did was live in Wyoming — until buying a house in Jackson Hole in 2012 ahead of her announcement in the summer of 2013 that she would challenge Enzi in 2014.
Enzi declared that he would seek a fourth term in 2014. Cheney’s announcement that she would challenge him was widely criticized in GOP circles, and the GOP Senate Campaign Committee pledged to support the incumbent. Enzi had won re-election in 2008 with 71% of the vote. Getting almost no traction on the campaign trail, she withdrew from the race in January 2014 — likely to avoid a humiliating defeat in the primary.
But Cynthia Lummis, the four-term GOP House member — Wyoming has only one seat in the House — announced she would not run for re-election in 2016. Cheney seized the opportunity to run for the seat that her father had occupied during the Reagan Administration. She won of an undistinguished field of state-level GOP officials and easily won re-election in 2018 and 2020.
But, when Mike Enzi announced that he would not seek a fifth term in 2020, Cheney did not seek to enter that race. Cynthia Lummis announced that she would re-enter politics to run for Enzi’s vacant seat, and Cheney declined to challenge her in the primary.
THAT was an acknowledgment by Cheney that her future in Wyoming was limited. She knew she would lose to Lummis if she ran for the Senate.
She was a member of the GOP minority in the House. The predictions were that the GOP would lose 10-15 seats in the House, putting them into an even smaller minority. The GOP held the majority in the Senate, and until the disaster in Georgia, the expectation was that the GOP would likely hold on to the majority by a very slim margin. But if Cheney could have been elected to the Senate, incumbency is Wyoming is pretty much bullet-proof.
But Cynthia Lummis is a lifelong resident of Wyoming and comes from a prominent Wyoming family. She had served as a State Representative, State Senator, and State Treasurer before winning state-wide to serve in the US House. Cheney knew challenging Lummis for Enzi’s Senate seat was destined to be losing effort, and she would be surrendering her House seat if she did so. So she didn’t.
Last November she won re-election with 68% of the vote, while Pres. Trump carried Wyoming with 69% — Cheney ran 8000 votes behind him. The beneficiary of those 8000 votes was the libertarian candidate on the ballot, who drew 10,000 votes. Another conservative third party candidate in Wyoming drew 8000 votes that Cheney did not get.
Last week Cheney became one of 10 GOP House members to vote for the impeachment of President Trump. That should not be surprising because she is a descendant of the Bush-Cheney wing of the GOP — which Pres. Trump trashed in 2016 and throughout his Presidency. She has also long associated herself with some of the most prominent voices in the “NeverTrump” movement. After supporting Fred Thompson’s Presidential campaign in 2008, when he dropped out she moved over to work for Mitt Romney — in January when there were still several other candidates she could have chosen.
In 2020 Cheney had a primary challenger who received 25% of the vote in the race against her. Her opponent was a life-long blue-collar oil field worker with no political experience. Based on the margin in that race, a challenger in 2022 would need to flip only 25,000 votes to beat Cheney in the primary. There are 5 statewide elected officials besides the three federal officeholders in Wyoming — all Republicans.
In the aftermath of her vote for impeachment, the Wyoming GOP issued a statement denouncing her vote.
There has not been a time during our tenure when we have seen this type of an outcry from our fellow Republicans, with the anger and frustration being palpable in the comments we have received. Our telephone has not stopped ringing, our email is filling up, and our website has seen more traffic than at any previous time. The consensus is clear that those who are reaching out to the Party vehemently disagree with Representative Cheney’s decision and actions.
We as a Party respect our elected officials and assume that they will respect and represent their constituents. We are receiving the message loud and clear that what happened yesterday is a true travesty for Wyoming and the country.
Look for the Wyoming GOP to push one of the other statewide officeholders to challenge Cheney. The chances of that increase significantly if Cheney is removed from her position in the House GOP Caucus leadership team.
If both those come to pass, I expect Cheney to announce she will not seek re-election.