Liz Cheney is Trump's final stop on his impeachment revenge tour. However, he holds the key to her future.

 Liz Cheney is Trump's final stop on his impeachment revenge tour. However, he holds the key to her future.

JACKSON, Wyo.  — Rep. Liz Cheney's fans are divided over her destiny in Tuesday's Republican primary: sadness about her fate, pride in her for standing up to former President Donald Trump at a personal cost, and hope that she would bounce to a more prominent position in national politics.

There are few obvious indicators that Cheney is even attempting to seek re-election, despite polling showing her behind her major competitor, Harriet Hageman, by 57% to 28%.

According to locals, she has appeared in public a few times in recent weeks — for example, to meet with members of the Jewish community — but her campaign had no public activities scheduled for the weekend or Monday. On Saturday, a dozen of her fans waved Cheney banners at passing motorists in a rally more akin to a town council campaign than one of the most closely watched congressional contests in modern political history. The candidate was nowhere to be seen.

Cheney's television advertisements are centered on her battle with Trump — the heresy that has estranged her from the majority of Republican voters in this state and throughout the country. Cheney, the third-ranking Republican at the start of this Congress, was effectively written out of the party for voting to impeach Trump and leading the House investigation into his participation in the Capitol insurgency on Jan. 6.

She will almost certainly finish the race with a sizable war chest, showing both the ease with which she garnered funds from anti-Trump contributors throughout the country and the folly of pouring millions of dollars into a hopeless cause. In a state where TV commercials are inexpensive, she still had $7.4 million in the bank three weeks ago.

If Cheney loses to Hageman on Tuesday, she will be the final Republican to lose a primary challenge to Trump after voting to impeach him. Four of the ten chose to retire, three have already lost primaries, and two have survived primaries (one of which Trump did not back a competitor).

Cheney has perhaps given up the most of any elected Republican — one who was on track to become House Speaker someday — in order to draw a line against Trump and his efforts to overturn the 2020 election using any and all measures available to him.

But she now has a national fundraising platform, cash in the bank, and a broad group of supporters, causing many Republicans and Democrats to assume there is a method to her campaign's success.

"Nobody would piss off the entire state of Wyoming unless they had another strategy," said Kasey Mateosky, a Republican seeking for a seat on the Teton County Board of Commissioners. "She has to have a plan B."

Some Cheney supporters believe Tuesday's election will be a watershed moment, when Cheney will shed her Wyoming Republican skin and become a presidential contender who can declare she has valued the health of the nation over politics.

"I think this will open the way for her — she'll continue in politics," said 75-year-old Thomas Grisell, a lifetime Democrat who switched parties to vote for Cheney. He praised her for responding to his appeal for assistance on a restorative justice program, and while he hopes she makes an uproar on Tuesday night, he wants her to run for president.

He stated, "She would love to run against Trump."

Voters like Grisell were part of Cheney's last-ditch effort to defeat Trump's troops in Wyoming, which he won by 43 percentage points in 2020, his highest margin in the country. She attempted to build a coalition of anti-Trump Republicans, independents, and Democrats in a state where people may easily switch party allegiance to vote in primaries.

Trump and math have been her two main opponents. The former president seeks vengeance, and his followers in the state are more likely to curse Cheney's name than to identify themselves to reporters.

Unless there is a significant shift in base Republicans' opinions of Cheney at the last minute, there just do not appear to be enough newly registered GOP votes to propel her to victory.

Wyoming had 280,741 registered voters in January: 196,179 Republicans, 45,822 Democrats, 35,344 independents, and a small number of Constitution and Libertarian party supporters. By the beginning of August, the Republican Party's registers had grown by around 11,495 voters, while the Democratic and independent parties' lists had shrunk by a combined 7,644 people.

Nonetheless, Cheney's struggle with Trump has increased some Republicans' esteem for her, both nationally and locally. Alexandra Alessandro, who was holding a Cheney banner at Jackson's town square on Saturday, said she voted for Trump twice for president but is happy of her representative's efforts on the committee.

"The most important thing for me was January 6th," she explained. "Like I said, 'I'm a Republican, I have Republican views ingrained in me from my parents,' but January 6th was what really, truly flipped things around for me."

Hageman's major line of attack is that Cheney, the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney and reared in Virginia, lacks "Wyoming values." A super PAC founded by Trump supporters has been the leading outside spender in the campaign, spending more than $1 million to help Hageman and damage Cheney.

Some Republican voters have heard the message.

"I'll vote for Hageman because I believe she represents Wyoming values better than Liz Cheney," said a primary voter in Afton who declined to offer his name. "I had a lot of respect for Liz Cheney, and I didn't think some of her recent actions represented the voice of the Wyoming people."

Cheney's team said she would not be available for an interview before the primary.

Bryan Tarantola, a retired architect and urban planner who usually votes Democratic, described Wyoming's primary system as "one of the delights" because it allows people to switch to prevent someone from obtaining the nomination.

Tarantola, 75, said the "method has been employed around here for a long time" and that he appreciated the opportunity to express himself in reaction to a pro-Hageman robo-message.

"I'm sorry to hear Wyoming has abandoned truth, honesty, and integrity in favor of the great deception, treachery, insurgency, and a proto-fascist dictator," he replied to the message sender. "We don't need a Drumpf shill; we need someone who isn't scared to stand out for democracy and the rule of law. You're a member of a violent, nihilistic cult, and Liz Cheney is far from liberal."

However, the short-term excitement of Democratic voters is unlikely to save Cheney.

"Unless the worst error in primary polling ever occurs, it does appear like everything is baked in," said a GOP political strategist who has been involved in the state for Hageman. "The state didn't have enough Democrats for her."

More telling, the operative said, was Cheney's choice to use her airtime to bash Trump — including a commercial in which her father labeled Trump a "coward" — didn't match with a strategy of appealing the GOP base.

"You haven't advertised that you'd try to win over Republican primary voters," he remarked.

tags: Liz Cheney,trump,
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