Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, Donald Trump’s fiercest Republican adversary in Congress, is considering a run for the US presidency in 2024 in order to prevent a comeback by the former commander-in-chief.
On Wednesday, calling Trump “a very grave threat and risk to our republic,” she told NBC that she thinks defeating him will require “a broad and united front of Republicans, Democrats and independents — and that’s what I intend to be part of.” She declined to say if she would run for president but conceded it’s “something that I’m thinking about.”
Cheney was defeated in a GOP primary in Wyoming on Tuesday, falling to a rival backed by the former president in a contest that reinforced his grip on the party’s base.
The third-term congresswoman and her allies entered Tuesday’s vote downbeat about her prospects, aware that Trump’s backing gave Harriet Hageman considerable lift in the state where he won by the largest margin during the 2020 campaign.
Cheney was already looking ahead to a political future beyond Capitol Hill that could include a 2024 presidential run, potentially putting her on another collision course with Trump.
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Cheney described her primary loss on Tuesday night as the beginning of a new chapter in her political career as she addressed a small collection of supporters, including her father, former vice president Dick Cheney, on the edge of a vast field flanked by mountains and bales of hay.
Then-president Donald Trump gives his pen to Republican Congresswoman Liz Cheney, third from left, after signing one of several bills in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, Monday, March 27, 2017. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
“Our work is far from over,” she said, evoking Abraham Lincoln, who also lost congressional elections before ascending to the presidency and preserving the union.
The primary results — and the roughly 30-point margin — were a powerful reminder of the GOP’s rapid shift to the right. A party once dominated by national security-oriented, business-friendly conservatives like her father now belongs to Trump, animated by his populist appeal and, above all, his denial of defeat in the 2020 election.
Such lies, which have been roundly rejected by federal and state election officials along with Trump’s own attorney general and judges he appointed, transformed Cheney from an occasional critic of the former president to the clearest voice inside the GOP warning that he represents a threat to democratic norms.
She’s the top Republican on the House panel investigating the January 6, 2021 insurrection at the US Capitol by a mob of Trump supporters, an attack she referenced in nodding to her political future.
“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 — and I mean it,” she said Tuesday.
Trump and his team celebrated Cheney’s loss, which may represent his biggest political victory in a primary season full of them. The former president called the results “a complete rebuke” of the Jan. 6 committee.
“Liz Cheney should be ashamed of herself, the way she acted, and her spiteful, sanctimonious words and actions towards others,” he wrote on his social media platform. “Now she can finally disappear into the depths of political oblivion where I am sure, she will be much happier than she is right now. Thank you WYOMING!”
Cheney will now be forced from Congress at the end of her third and final term in January. She is not expected to leave Capitol Hill quietly.
From left: Chairman Bennie Thompson (Democratic-Mississippi), Vice Chair Liz Cheney (Republican-Wyoming) and Representative Adam Kinzinger (Republican-Illinois) listen as the US House select committee investigating the January 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol holds a hearing at the Capitol in Washington, June 16, 2022. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
She will continue in her leadership role on the congressional panel investigating the January 6 attack until it dissolves at the end of the year. And she is actively considering a 2024 White House bid — as a Republican or independent — having vowed to do everything in her power to fight Trump’s influence in her party.
With Cheney’s loss, Republicans who voted to impeach Trump are going extinct.
In all, seven Republican senators and 10 Republican House members backed Trump’s impeachment in the days after his supporters stormed the US Capitol as Congress tried to certify President Joe Biden’s victory. Just two of those 10 House members have won their primaries this year. After two Senate retirements, Murkowski is the only such Senate Republican on this year’s ballot.
If Cheney does ultimately run for president — either as a Republican or an independent — don’t expect her to win Wyoming’s three electoral votes.
“We like Trump. She tried to impeach Trump,” Cheyenne voter Chester Barkell said of Cheney on Tuesday. “I don’t trust Liz Cheney.”
And in Jackson, Republican voter Dan Winder said he felt betrayed by his congresswoman.
“Over 70% of the state of Wyoming voted Republican in the last presidential election and she turned right around and voted against us,” said Winder, a hotel manager. “She was our representative, not her own.”