Liz Cheneys Risky Political Strategy Could Cost Her Re Election

Liz Cheney’s Risky Political Strategy Could Cost Her Re-election

Cheyenne, Wyoming — Three weeks away from the biggest election of her political career, Liz Cheney is nowhere to be seen at a rodeo in Wyoming’s largest city attended by thousands of voters.

The Republican representative is more than 1,600 miles away in Washington, chairing a congressional committee made up mostly of Democrats determined to expose Donald Trump’s attack on democracy during the January 6, 2021 insurrection. As cowboys celebrated in her state, she railed against Trump in the nation’s capital.

“Donald Trump deliberately chose to violate the oath he took upon assuming” the presidency, Cheney said during Thursday’s hearing.

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Dean Finnerty, a Wheatland rancher who was participating in a steer wrestling competition, didn’t miss her.

“I voted for Cheney when he ran last time and I will never do it again,” he said. “I don’t know if she represents the conservatives who brought her to Congress.”

Cheney’s criticism of Trump from a legislative commission is the lynchpin of an unconventional strategy that could cost him dearly in the short term.

Many allies believe Cheney is prepared, not to say resigned, to lose the Wyoming Republican primary on Aug. 16 to a Trump-endorsed candidate, Harriet Hageman.

Cheney’s team, however, is betting that its current position will leave it better profiled ahead of the 2024 presidential elections.

Cheney’s str ong anti-Trump message as vice chair of the legislative committee investigating last year’s insurrection gave her a greater national profile and expanded her network of donors, as did her appeal to Trump critics in both parties who could boost a possible presidential candidacy of his.

Cheney still hasn’t decided what he’ll do in 2024, but he also hasn’t ruled out running for president as a Republican or even an independent.

“The most important thing is to protect the nation from Donald Trump,” Cheney said in an interview with ABC News broadcast on Friday. He added that he will decide “later” whether he launches his candidacy for the presidency or not.

Cheney’s supporters understand the political paradox he faces in Wyoming, the state where Trump posted his biggest victory, by 43 points, less than two years ago.

“I knew he was shooting himself in the foot (in Wyoming) and was going to walk with a limp for the rest of his life,” said Landon Brown, a Wyoming state representative and Cheney ally, alluding to his criticism of Trump. “But this can lead to something much bigger.”

Cheney, 55, the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, is perhaps the most staunchly anti-Trump Republican contemplating a 2024 run for president.

Other Republicans criticizing Trump include Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan and Rep. Adam Kinzinger, the only other Republican on the Jan. 6 commission and who will not seek re-election in the year-end midterm elections.

Today, Trump would dominate the Republican primary if he were to run, as he said he would. But there is a good group of Republicans ready to turn the page, tired of Trump’s efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election that he lost to Joe Biden.

The bulk of Republican voters, however, continue to support the tycoon.

Cheney’s campaign is not easy. Numerous death threats made her forgo large rallies and neighborhood assemblies, opting instead for private events where her presence is often announced at the end of the event, if she is.

The Wyoming Republican Party has excommunicated her and no longer recognizes her as a Republican.

Cheney is now presenting herself as a champion of democracy who hopes to have cross-party pull.

“We need more principled leaders like Liz, who will ensure that those who want democracy to not work don’t get away with it,” Kinsinger told the AP. “Never have pro-democracy voters been needed more to turn out in primaries.”

Cheney is resisting pressure to stop criticizing Trump so much and focus more on local issues, as many Republicans have done. But she refuses to soften her message and at the height of her campaign she insists on bad-mouthing Trump.

At the launch of his campaign, he promised to “reject Trump’s lies” and not give in “to pressure or intimidation.”

“I will never put the party above my duty to my country,” he said in a debate last month, in which he spoke of “Donald Trump’s lies.”

For Trump, defeating Cheney is one of his main goals. He has described her as “a despicable human being” on social media and is pushing Hageman’s Wyoming bid.

Dean “Doc” Schroeder, a Democrat who joined the GOP to vote for Cheney in the GOP primary, said he was shocked by Cheney’s leadership of the Jan. 6 committee.

“I don’t know if (criticism of Trump) hurt her,” he said, adding that people who don’t like her weren’t going to vote for her anyway. “I’m a perfect example that her performance in Washington has helped her,” added Schroeder, a retired psychologist.

“I hope he does well,” said Marilyn Kite, a former Wyoming Supreme Court justice who supports Cheney. “But if she loses, her being true to the oath she took is more important in the long run.”

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