Liz Cheney poised to lose Republican leadership position

Rep. Liz Cheney is poised to lose her leadership position in the House Republican conference as soon as Wednesday over her continued criticism of former President Donald Trump, putting yet another hurdle in the way of her path to reelection in Wyoming.

With 70% of Wyoming voters backing the former president in the 2020 election, Ms. Cheney’s opposition to him and his leadership of the Republican Party has put her at odds with most of her constituents.

“She couldn’t win a dog catcher’s race here,” said Martin Kimmet, chairman of the Park County GOP. “She is just not very popular and seemingly she doesn’t care. She just keeps doing her own thing. She seems pretty narcissistic and above all of us poor, old cowboys out here.”

But Ms. Cheney sees the Republican Party at a turning point, warning that if the base continues to follow Mr. Trump’s claims of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election, it will “do profound long-term damage to our party and our country.”

House Republicans are expected to vote on removing Ms. Cheney from their leadership this week. Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York, a Trump loyalist, is favored to replace her. 

Back home, she faces two primary challengers and is likely to have more join the race.

Wyoming state Sen. Anthony Bouchard and state Rep. Chuck Gray have already launched campaigns to unseat her and are running on a mostly anti-Cheney message. 

Mr. Bouchard has served in the Wyoming Senate since 2017 and said Ms. Cheney is out of touch with the state’s voters. He cited the example of U.S. military involvement in the Middle East, saying voters increasingly favor disengagement from the region. 

“I think that as a whole the Republican Party and the voters have changed their positions and I think Liz Cheney is still stuck there and it is pretty evident to the voters,” he said. “It is time we put people in Washington that actually start thinking more like the everyday Joe.” 

Mr. Gray has served in the state House since 2017. He called Ms. Cheney’s vote to impeach Mr. Trump following the riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 “disgusting.” 

She was one of 10 Republicans to join House Democrats in impeaching Mr. Trump for inciting the riot. 

“Liz Cheney is part of this insider group that basically aligns itself with the radical left and they work together time and time again. We saw it with the impeachment vote,” Mr. Gray said. “That is what Liz Cheney is a part of.” 

The two GOP challengers share the opinion that House Republicans should boot Ms. Cheney out of her No. 3 post in the conference.

A Club for Growth poll published this month shows 52% of the state’s primary voters are committed to voting against Ms. Cheney, no matter who her top challenger is next year. 

But not all Wyoming Republicans are interested in the anti-Cheney messaging and instead want the challengers to focus on the issues.

“Spouting anti-Cheney talking points is going to get old after a while,” said Tom Lubnau, a GOP state committeeman from Campbell County.

With more primary challengers expected to join Mr. Bouchard and Mr. Gray in the race against Ms. Cheney, some conservatives are worried a split in the vote could give her an opening to be reelected, despite her unfavorable rating in the state. 

“Those that aren’t in Liz Cheney’s camp, that is the biggest fear,” Mr. Kimmet said.

Teton County Republican Chair Mary Martin said Ms. Cheney’s father, former Vice President Dick Cheney, was present in the state and she still runs into him, but she has not yet met Ms. Cheney despite outreach.

“I’ve never met her and I live in the same town she is supposedly a resident of,” Ms. Martin said. “She is involved on the East Coast. Her life is back there — doesn’t appear to be here.”

A spokesperson for Ms. Cheney dismissed the claims she is absent from the state, saying the lawmaker is there during the current recess and recently brought a fellow Republican from the House Natural Resources Committee home to visit energy sites, a critical industry for the state’s economy. 

The spokesperson also said she isn’t out of touch with voters who supported Mr. Trump, noting that she voted with the former president 93% of the time. 

Ms. Cheney is the third-ranking Republican in the House, serving as the Republican Conference chair. After voting to impeach Mr. Trump in January, she held onto her position despite backlash from Trump supporters in the conference.

But since then, she has lost the backing of party leaders such as House Minority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy, California Republican, putting her in the position to be unseated. 

Many in the conference and Mr. Trump are throwing their weight behind Ms. Stefanik to replace her.

No formal conference vote has been announced, but Republicans are set to huddle behind closed doors Wednesday.

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