Cheney, Wyo – It’s been just over a month before her primary, but Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming has been nowhere near as voters weighing her future.
Instead, Ms. Cheney has gathered with fellow lawmakers and aides in the Capitol complex, battling allies on an issue she believes is more important than her seat in the House of Representatives: getting rid of former President Donald J. Trump’s American policy and influence.
“The nine of us have done more to prevent Trump from reclaiming power than any other group to date,” she told fellow members of the committee investigating Mr. Trump’s involvement in the January 6 attack on the Capitol. “We cannot give up.”
The most closely watched 2022 primaries never became a race. Polls show Cheney losing hard to rival Harriet Hageman, Mr. Trump’s tactics for revenge, and the congresswoman being kicked out of her Trump-loving state, in part due to death threats, her office says.
But for Cheney, the race for political survival has stalled for months. Instead, she used the August 16 competition as a kind of preeminent stage for her martyrdom – and a proof ground for her new crusade. I used single debate to tell voters to “vote for someone else” if they wanted a politician who would violate their oath of office. Last week, she asked her father, former Vice President Dick Cheney, to be circumcised Advertising He described Mr. Trump as a “coward” who represented the greatest threat to America in the history of the republic.
In a state where Trump won 70 percent of the vote two years ago, Cheney may be asking ranchers to become vegetarian.
“If the cost of defending the Constitution is losing a seat in the House, that’s a price I’m willing to pay,” she said in an interview this week in the boardroom at Cheyenne Bank.
Arguably the 56-year-old daughter of a politician who had visions of rising to the top of the House leadership – but landed as Vice President instead – has become the most important member of Congress in modern times. Few others have so aggressively used office tools to try to change the course of American politics—but in doing so, she sacrificed her future in the institution she was raised to venerate.
Cheney’s tireless focus on Mr. Trump has fueled speculation – even among old family friends – that she is preparing to run for president. It didn’t do much to deter such talk.
At a house party Thursday night in Cheyenne, with former Vice President Dick Cheney looking happily under a pair of leather jockeys, the host introduced Mrs. Cheney by recalling how another Republican woman, Maine Senator, Margaret Chase Smith, faced Senator Joseph McCarthy when doing so was no He’s popular – and he went on to become the first female presidential candidate from a major party.
Those present in parallel applauded, while Ms. Cheney smiled.
In the interview, she said she focused on her primary work — and her work on the committee. But it’s not clear she could be a viable candidate in the current GOP, or whether she’s interested in the donor class’s schemes about trying a third party, in part because she knows he might draw votes from an opposition Democrat. Mr. Trump.
Ms. Cheney said she doesn’t care about changing parties: “I’m a Republican.” But when asked if the Republican Party she grew up in could be saved in the short term, she said, “It might not be the case” and described his party as “very sick.”
Understanding the August 2 primary
As Trump’s GOP wing flexed its muscles, voters in the deep-red state of Kansas delivered a vociferous warning to the GOP over abortion rights.
The gig, she said, “continues to push itself into a hole and I think it would take several cycles if it could heal.”
Ms. Cheney suggested she was as jaded with Trumpism as Mr. Trump himself. She said she could support a Republican candidate for president in 2024, but her red line is to refuse to state clearly that Mr Trump lost a legitimate election in 2020.
When asked if the ranks of the banned candidates include Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who has been coveted by many Republicans as a replacement for Trump, she said she would “find it very difficult” to support Mr. DeSantis in the general election.
“I think Ron DeSantis lined up almost completely with Donald Trump, and I think that’s a very serious matter,” Ms Cheney said.
It is easy to hear other voices of the White House attempt in Cheney’s speech.
In Cheyenne, she directed the fears of “mothers” and what she described as their hunger to a “competent person”. Having once largely despised identity politics — Ms. Cheney was the only lawmaker who wouldn’t have taken a picture of congressional women after 2018 — she now discusses gender freedom and her perspective as a mother.
“These days, for the most part, men run the world, and it’s not really going well,” she said in June when speaking at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California.
Noting that Ms. Cheney’s political awakening goes beyond her disdain for Trump, she said she favors the ranks of Democratic women with national security backgrounds over the right wing of her party.
“I would much rather serve with Mickey Sherrill, Chrissy Houlahan and Elisa Slotkin than with Marjorie Taylor Green and Lauren Poppert, although I certainly have major disagreements with the Democratic women I just mentioned,” Ms Cheney said in the interview. “But they love this country, they do their homework and they are people who are trying to do the right thing for the country.”
Ms. Cheney is more sure of her diagnosis of what’s wrong with the Republican Party than of her prescription for reform.
It does not have a post-Congressional political organization on hold and has benefited from Democratic donors, whose passions may be fleeting. To the frustration of some allies, she did not expand her inner circle beyond the family and a handful of close advisors. She had never said she was much dressed up, she longed for what she described as her father’s era of politics centered on politics.
“What the country needs are serious people willing to engage in policy discussions,” Ms. Cheney said.
Everything is a far cry from Liz Cheney a decade ago, who had a decade to appear regularly on Fox News and would use her guest guest seat on Sean Hannity to present her conservative, unwavering views, brutish ex-President Barack Obama and Democrats. .
Today, Ms. Cheney does not condone her specific regrets about helping create the atmosphere that led to Mr. Trump’s takeover of her party. However, she acknowledged the “reflexive partisanship I was guilty of” and noted that January 6 “showed how dangerous it was.”
Few lawmakers today face these risks as regularly as Ms. Cheney, who has had a full-time Capitol security guard for nearly a year due to threats against her — and few ordinary lawmakers have been tasked with protecting. No longer giving advance notice of her travel to Wyoming, and no longer welcome at most county and state Republican events, she turned her campaign into a series of invite-only parties.
More baffling than her schedule is why Cheney, who has raised more than $13 million, didn’t pump more money into the race, especially early on when she had the opportunity to introduce Ms. Hageman. Ms Cheney had spent nearly half of her military fund as of the beginning of July, fueling speculation that she was saving money for future efforts against Trump.
Ms. Cheney has long since stopped attending House Republican meetings. When she was in the Capitol, she spent much of her time with the Democrats on the January 6 committee, often going to the Lindy Boggs room, the legislators’ reception room, rather than the House floor with the male-dominated House Republican convention. Some members of the January 6 panel were stunned how many times her background on Zoom was her home in suburban Virginia.
In Washington, even some Republicans who are also eager to move on from Mr. Trump are skeptical of Cheney’s decision to launch open war against her party. They argue that it limits its future impact.
“It depends on whether you want to step out in the glare of glory and be passive or if you want to be effective,” said Senator John Cornyn of Texas, who has his own aspirations for future leadership. “I respect her but I wouldn’t have made the same choice.”
Ms. Cheney understands that the January 6 investigation, with its prime-time hearings, is seen by critics as an opportunity to gain attention. She turned down some opportunities that would have been beneficial to her ambitions, most notably proposals from documentary filmmakers.
However, to domestic skeptics, Cheney’s attacks on Mr. Trump have sent idle questions about her ties to the state and raised fears that she has traveled to Washington and taken a stand with the opposition, rejecting the political views of the voters who gave her and her father their beginnings in electoral politics.
At a parade in Casper last month, held as Ms. Cheney in Washington prepared for a hearing, Ms. Hageman received repeated applause from voters who said the incumbent had strayed.
“Her electoral record is not bad,” said Julie Heat, a Casper resident. “But a lot of her focus is on January 6th.”
Bruce Heat, Mrs. Heat’s husband, interjected, “She’s in bed with the Democrats, with Pelosi and with all of them.”
Notably, none of the voters interviewed on the show came up with Cheney’s endorsement of the gun control bill passed by the House just weeks ago — the kind of throwback that would have angered Republicans in Wyoming in an era where politics is dominated by more than one man’s personality.
Mike Sullivan, the former Democratic governor of Wyoming, who plans to vote for Cheney in the primaries, said her “vote on the gun bill got absolutely no publicity.” (Ms. Cheney is pushing independents and Democrats to re-register as Republicans, at least long enough for her to vote in the primaries.)
For Mrs. Cheney, any sense of bewilderment about this moment — Cheney, a Republican monarchist, who is actually read from the party — has faded in the year and a half since the Capitol attack.
When last year I attended the funeral of Mike Enzy, a former Wyoming senator, Ms. Cheney welcomed a visiting delegation of Republican senators. As she welcomed them one by one, many of them praised her courage and told her to keep fighting against Mr. Trump, she remembers.
She did not miss the opportunity to clearly remind them: they can also join in.
“There have been many such moments,” she said at the bank, a touch of fatigue in her voice.