Rep. Liz Cheney is poised to pour her energy into winning reelection in Wyoming, an uncertain contest she views as a proxy war with former President Donald Trump and the critical first phase of her effort to wrestle away control of the Republican Party.
Cheney was determined to wage a national battle to erase Trump’s dominance over the GOP after being ousted Wednesday as the No. 3 ranking House Republican — a fight the congresswoman’s advisers believe she is better positioned to pursue unshackled from leadership. But Cheney confidants acknowledge that an important step in that broader campaign for influence in the party is winning a fourth term as the statewide, at-large representative for Wyoming.
Cheney is making her opposition to Trump a central component of her reelection message, believing victory on these terms would strengthen her argument against the former president and attract more support from other elected Republicans and party officials. The strategy has put the congresswoman on shaky ground with voters in her ruby red state, with several Republicans already lining up to challenge her.
The Cheney name is iconic in Wyoming. The state capitol in Cheyenne is practically a shrine to Cheney’s father, former Vice President Dick Cheney, who represented Wyoming in Congress from 1979–89. But Trump is popular there, now. He won the state twice with an average of 69% of the vote and is vowing to use his political muscle with grassroots conservatives to oust Cheney in the 2022 Republican primary.
“As a representative of the great state of Wyoming, Liz Cheney is bad for our Country and bad for herself,” Trump said in a statement. “Almost everyone in the Republican Party, including 90% of Wyoming, looks forward to her ouster — and that includes me!”
“Bring it on,” Cheney responded in an interview with NBC News. “I intend to be the leader, one of the leaders, in a fight to help restore our party.”
Cheney was a reliable vote for the Trump agenda during the 45th president’s term, disagreeing occasionally on foreign policy matters. But the congresswoman has been a relentless Trump critic since January. Cheney voted to impeach Trump on allegations that he incited the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol and says he should be excommunicated from the Republican Party because of his unfounded claims that the 2020 election was stolen, undermining American democracy.
Cheney’s hostility to Trump eventually wore thin with House Republicans — even those privately sympathetic, either because they believe publicly criticizing Trump is counterproductive or because it caused them heartburn with grassroots conservatives back home. Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York, expected to be elected the new House GOP conference chairwoman, voted with Trump less often than Cheney. But she supports the former president’s election claims and avidly backs his leadership of the party.
Details of Cheney’s plans to take on Trump nationally are still undefined. There are hints they will involve travel, fundraising, campaigning for like-minded candidates, and cutting advertisements. With a political lineage steeped in Republican royalty and a solid conservative voting record, Cheney might be the highest-profile Never Trump Republican with solid party credentials to emerge over the past five years. She is intent on capitalizing on that platform and maintaining an aggressive media presence.
The question is whether Cheney will have any impact where so many other prominent Republicans have failed — former Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona; former Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee; former Rep. Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania; a mini-universe of Never Trump GOP operatives, media personalities, and writers; and, so far, incumbent Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois.
“It’s mostly wish-casting. There’s no theory by which this time is different, except to the extent that the head-on approach like this has never been tried. Maybe voters will respond to strength — unapologetic truth to power,” a Republican lobbyist said. “Clearly, that doesn’t seem to be the case, and to the extent this is burnishing her national profile that comes at the expense of any remaining standing among the base.”
But some Never Trump Republicans and others who disaffiliated with the GOP because of the former president are optimistic.
“It makes the choice between being a principled conservative and a Trump sycophant as clear as day, and now people will have to choose without being able to hide behind a lot of rhetoric about Republican unity,” said Tom Nichols, a former Republican who is a professor of international affairs and contributing writer for the Atlantic. “Her next goal should be to fight off this primary that’s obviously going to be organized against her.”
Source: Washington Examiner : Liz Cheney prioritizes reelection as a base to challenge Trump