Cheney's Primary Challengers Already Tossing Their Hats in the Ring After GOP House Ouster
Rep. Liz Cheney was voted out of House GOP leadership on Wednesday after loudly criticizing former President Donald Trump and his claims of election fraud. Now, a cast of primary challengers is looking to boot her from office in 2022.
Over a year remains before Wyoming’s deadline to file for the August 2022 Republican primary, but already at least six Republicans — from a retired Army colonel to a rural kombucha brewer — plan to run against her.
“There’s going to be an awful lot of them. It’s probably going to split the vote,” observed Mark Falk, a Cheyenne resident planning to vote against Cheney.
Cheney told reporters on Thursday that she “obviously” welcomed anybody who wanted to join the race against her.
“There are millions and millions of Republicans out there who want us to be a party that stands for principles and who are very worried about the direction that the party is going and don’t want the party to be dragged backward by the former president,” Cheney said.
Trump has promised to endorse a Cheney challenger. A bill backed by Trump’s son to institute primary runoffs failed in the Wyoming Legislature in March.
Cheney, meanwhile, has proved she can rebound from defeat to prevail in a crowded field of Republicans — it’s how she first got elected.
After ditching an ill-received run for Senate in 2014, she came back to run for the House in 2016, winning almost twice as many votes as the runner-up in a nine-way primary.
She’s since knocked off Republican and Democratic opponents alike with ease, all while building up a formidable fundraising operation. From January through March, she brought in $1.5 million — her best quarter yet.
Her national profile as a daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney doesn’t hurt. And she could even get a boost from her status as Democrats’ new favorite Republican. Wyoming allows voters to register at the polls, and its Democrats often switch affiliation to vote in a hotly contested Republican primary.
To be sure, discontent with Cheney in Wyoming has grown since she voted to impeach Trump following the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol. She was censured in an overwhelming vote by the state Republican Party.
“I’ve never been a Cheney fan,” said one primary opponent, Marissa Joy Selvig, a former mayor of Pavillion. “She has been working more for herself and for the Republican Party than she has the citizens of Wyoming. That’s what I see.”
A farmer’s market kombucha brewer who accompanies student and church musicians on harp, piano, flute and other instruments, Selvig said she planned to run for Congress even before Cheney’s recent troubles.
Selvig pledged to serve in Congress with a “sense of peacefulness” and willingness to “work together for the good of the nation.”
Others running include state Sen. Anthony Bouchard, a gun rights activist and co-owner of a Cheyenne-area septic system business; state Rep. Chuck Gray, a conservative radio commentator; and retired Army Col. Denton Knapp of Trabuco Canyon, California, who graduated from high school in Wyoming in 1983 and plans to move back.
Trump has yet to hint at whom he will back.
Cheney’s standoff with Trump has meanwhile breathed new life into old criticisms.
“I think she’s gotten way too far away from Wyoming, is just more of a Washington insider than anything,” Falk said. “I always kind of never thought she was a real Wyoming representative.”
Another Cheyenne resident said that impeaching Trump over the riot wasn’t a straightforward proposition.
“Let’s be honest, the attack on Congress was terrible. Whether or not you hold him responsible for that, I don’t know that that’s completely fair to say that he was personally responsible, although he didn’t do much to relieve it,” said George Geyer, a retired teacher and coach.
Cheney hasn’t done a terrible job, Geyer added, but he will probably consider voting for somebody else.
The Western Journal has reviewed this Associated Press story and may have altered it prior to publication to ensure that it meets our editorial standards.
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