House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) has endorsed Rep. Liz Cheney’s (R-Wyo.) GOP challenger in Wyoming, striking a tough blow against the already-endangered incumbent.
Cheney, the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, has had a relatively unchallenged political career up to this point, but her participation on the Democrat-dominated Jan. 6 Committee and her comments regarding former President Donald Trump have alienated GOP voters and officials.
Though he has yet to give an endorsement for many upcoming races, Trump quickly endorsed attorney Harriet Hageman to replace Cheney in the one-district state of Wyoming.
On Thursday, McCarthy also endorsed Hageman over Cheney, indicating that the more established wing of the GOP has also grown frustrated with Cheney’s participation on the Jan. 6 Committee.
“The most successful Representatives in Congress focus on the needs of their constituents, and throughout her career, Harriet has championed America’s natural resources and helped the people of Wyoming reject burdensome and onerous government overreach,” McCarthy said in a statement.
“I look forward to welcoming Harriet to a Republican majority next Congress, where together, we will hold the Biden Administration accountable and deliver much-needed solutions for the American people,” he added.
Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), who has been an outspoken critic of the Jan. 6 commission, followed suit in giving her endorsement to Hageman.
“I’m proud to endorse Harriet Hageman in her race to unseat Liz Cheney,” Stefanik said in a press release. “House Republicans were ready for a change when I took over as Conference Chair, and it’s resoundingly clear that Wyoming families are too.
“Liz Cheney abandoned her constituents to become a Far-Left Pelosi puppet. Liz sadly belongs in an MSNBC or CNN news chair, not in Congress representing Wyoming—a state that voted for President Trump by over forty points.
“Harriet is a true America First patriot who will restore the people of Wyoming’s voice that has been long forgotten by Liz Cheney.”
Cheney has faced criticism for being more concerned with the goings-on of the Jan. 6 commission and Trump than she is with the needs of Wyoming voters, and both McCarthy and Stefanik indicated that they agree with the criticism.
Cheney, who is not a native to Wyoming, began her career in the House with a bid to take Cynthia Lummis’ seat after the former representative resigned to join the U.S. Senate.
In 2016, Cheney won the state GOP primary with around 40 percent support, easily edging out the closest rival who had around 22 percent support. She later won the general election in the red stronghold with 62 percent of the vote. In 2018, she widened her margins in the GOP primary substantially, winning 67.7 percent support, and later won the general election with 63.6 percent of the vote. Cheney further increased her margins in 2020, winning nearly three-quarters of the vote in the GOP primary, and winning the general election with 68.6 percent support.
But this year, after her comments about the Jan. 6 “Stop the Steal” rally led to her and compatriot Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) being censured by the Republican Party, the situation for Cheney is far less sanguine.
A recent straw poll of Wyoming GOP activists shows that, at least among party officials, Hageman’s campaign has far more momentum. According to the local Casper Star-Tribune, of the 71 activists polled, 59 cast their ballot for Hageman, while only six voted for Cheney. The remaining votes were cast for an assortment of local Wyoming lawmakers.
While the straw poll does not necessarily predict the outcome of the primary vote later this year, it does indicate that Republican officials have little love for Cheney.
In addition, Cheney will likely not have access to support from the GOP.
In its resolution censuring Cheney and Kinzinger, the Republican National Committee (RNC) said that it will “immediately cease any and all support of them as members of the Republican Party for their behavior which has been destructive to the institution of the U.S. House of Representatives, the Republican Party, and our republic, and is inconsistent with the position of the Conference.”
The RNC resolution came after the Wyoming GOP had already voted to expel Cheney from the state party.
Without this critical network of support, Cheney could have significant difficulty in raising funds to finance her reelection bid.
Still, Cheney has given no indication that she intends to follow Kinzinger in retiring, but McCarthy’s endorsement of her challenger is another tough blow for Cheney’s already-dire prospects.