Updated: Aug 26, 2022
Wyoming representative Liz Cheney lost the state’s Republican primary last Tuesday, defeated by Trump-endorsed candidate Harriet Hageman. This is a huge win for Trump and his supporters, as Cheney has thus far been Trump’s most outspoken critic of prominence within the Republican party.
Hageman won with a whopping 66% of votes, while Cheney received only roughly 29%. This loss was expected, as many Wyoming Republicans have voiced their dissatisfaction with Cheney since her appointment to the January 6 committee.
Trumpian politics were the crux of Hageman’s campaign: she echoed Trump’s baseless election fraud claims and bashed Cheney and the January 6 committee. “[Liz Cheney] betrayed our values,” one man in Hageman’s “Ride for the Brand” campaign ad, which focuses on “cowboy values” such as loyalty, blank, blank, claimed. However, this ad makes it clear that the only value Hageman and her supporters appreciate is blind loyalty to Trump.
Cheney’s defeat is also a loss for Democrats, serving as one more nail in the coffin of traditional American conservatism and representing a further turn towards Trump's brand of radical conservatism, one that will let him get away with encouraging election officials to fudge voting numbers in his favor and inciting violence before, on, and after January 6. Hageman made this turn herself, approving Trump’s politics by 2020 after repudiating them in 2016 and calling Trump “racist and xenophobic”.
Further proof of this sustained turn towards Trump is the fact that, according to the New York Times, “just two of the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Mr. Trump last year will advance to the general election this fall”.
This dangerous trend will make it more difficult for Democrats to gain ground in the House this November and might even put their majority in jeopardy: currently, there are 224 House Democrats and 212 House Republicans, a minuscule margin when compared to previous terms. This will complicate the process of passing left-leaning partisan legislation through the House, in turn significantly lessening the chance of such legislation passing at all, which was already difficult in the first half of Biden’s presidency despite Democrats holding the majority in both the House and Senate.
Though Cheney has lost the battle, she made it clear in her concession speech that she intends to win the proverbial war against Trump.
“Our work is far from over,” she said, addressing her campaign team. And to the entirety of the crowd who came to watch her speech: “I have said since Jan. 6 that I will do whatever it takes to ensure Donald Trump is never again anywhere near the Oval Office.”
Cheney also established that, while she loves and believes in her party’s founding principles, she “love[s] [her] country more.”
“The path [to reelection] was clear,” Cheney said, “but it would have required that . . . I enable [President Trump’s] ongoing efforts to unravel our democratic system and attack the foundations of our republic. That was a path I could not and would not take.”