- The Washington Times
Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Rep. Liz Cheney, the Wyoming Republican who is now fighting for her political life after taking on former President Donald Trump and hisGOP allies, may need Democrats and independents to survive an increasingly difficult primary battle.

Ms. Cheney’s bid for a fourth term could be cut short in August, when she faces two Republican opponents in an Aug. 16 primary.

A new poll of GOP primary voters, commissioned by the conservative Club For Growth, found Ms. Cheney trailing Republican opponent Harriet Hageman by a staggering 30 points. The poll showed Mrs. Hageman with 56% of the vote, Ms. Cheney with 26%, and a third candidate, Anthony Bouchard, with 12%. Another 6% of Republican primary voters were undecided.

Cheney supporters have scoffed at the poll, noting the Club for Growth opposes Ms. Cheney and the survey was relatively small. But it suggests the once-rising GOP star is facing significant backlash from Republicans in a state where 70% of voters supported Mr. Trump in 2020.

Ms. Cheney could survive, state political experts say, if Democrats and independents come to her rescue.

Wyoming allows voters to switch party affiliation at the polls, which means the state’s registered Democrats could show up to help Ms. Cheney, a staunch Trump foe, defeat Mrs. Hageman, the Trump-endorsed candidate.

The state rejected efforts backed by Mr. Trump to ban last-minute party switches.

Wyoming voters are made up of a substantial number of independents, many of them registered as Republicans to ensure they can participate in primary elections.

“There’s a big gap between Republican registration percentage and Republican identification percentage,” University of Wyoming political science professor James D. King told The Washington Times. “You have a lot of independents who register as Republicans because that is basically where most elections are decided. What Cheney needs to get is independent votes.”

Ms. Cheney’s campaign team declined to comment on the poll numbers or the state of the race.

Ms. Cheney formally announced last week she is running for reelection, making a veiled reference to her months-long war with Mr. Trump and hisGOP allies, which began after the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the Capitol, which she blames on the former president.

“When I know something is wrong, I will say so,” Ms. Cheney said in a video announcing her candidacy. “I won’t waver or back down. I won’t surrender to pressure or intimidation. I know where to draw the line, and I know that some things aren’t for sale. That’s the Code of the West and that’s what Wyoming voters deserve and expect. Truth. Resolve. Duty. Integrity. Honor.”

Mr. Trump flew into Casper last weekend to host a rally attended by nearly 9,000 people on behalf of Mrs. Hageman. He’s made defeating Ms. Cheney a priority.

Mrs. Hageman is a former Cheney supporter who told the rally crowd that Wyoming is now “fed up with Liz Cheney,” for working with Democrats on a special committee that is investigating Mr. Trump and top Republicans over the riot at the Capitol.

Ms. Cheney was among 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Mr. Trump following the riot, but she didn’t stop there in opposing Mr. Trump.

As the number-three House Republican and head of the House communications team, she publicly called for the GOP to reject Mr. Trump and to ban him from future involvement in party politics.

House Republicans instead voted to remove her from the GOP leadership. Ms. Cheney then took a top role on the Democratic-led special committee that is not only investigating Mr. Trump’s culpability in the riot, but has also taken the unprecedented step of issuing subpoenas to top Republicans, including Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California.

Ms. Cheney’s stance against Mr. Trump, who is the most influential Republican in the party, and her decision to attack her own party leadership, has turned her into somewhat of an outcast in the GOP.

Republican opponents say Ms. Cheney has angered Wyoming voters who say her actions have made it impossible for her to effectively represent them in Congress, and it has caused her to lose support from the state’s many Republican voters who remain loyal to Mr. Trump.

“There is palpable outrage,” an aide to the Hageman campaign told The Washington Times. “They feel betrayed.”

Pollsters say the race could shift in the next three months and are not ruling out a Cheney victory.

“Conventional wisdom is that she will lose,” nonpartisan political analyst and pollster Ron Faucheux, said. “But that gives her a chance to run as an underdog, which could help build some momentum.”

Mr. King said he believes the race remains competitive in spite of the recent polling, in part because it won’t be just Republicans voting in the primary, but likely independents and Democrats, too.

“I’ve not seen any polling from an independent source that I would put a lot of weight on,” Mr. King said. “So I think Liz Cheney has a chance.”

• Susan Ferrechio can be reached at sferrechio@washingtontimes.com.

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