Despite the fact that it is widely believed that Liz Cheney will have a difficult time keeping her seat in Congress, few people in Wyoming appear to be very confident in making predictions about the results of her primary race.
Wyoming’s vote on Liz Cheney and Donald Trump to be heavily influenced by January 6th hearings
There have only been a few surveys, but they all show Cheney losing by significant margins. According to the majority of Wyoming political insiders, conducting polls in the state can be challenging, particularly when predicting voter turnout and demographics.
However, they also concur that Cheney is significantly trailing Harriet Hageman, who is supported by former President Donald Trump, even if polls are somewhat off.
But with just over a month until the Aug. 16 primary, there is a sense among some that there are ripples of change that are difficult to discern outside of private conversations in a House contest that will have significant consequences for the future of the national Republican Party.
“Liz Cheney’s way far behind. I don’t know if there’s enough time or momentum to beat Hageman.”
“If you’d have asked me six months ago whether Cheney stood a chance, I would have said, ‘Not in the world.’ But now I think that she’s developing support,” Tom Lubnau, a Republican former state House speaker, told Yahoo News. “She’s way far behind. I don’t know if there’s enough time or momentum to beat Hageman.”
The assault on the Capitol was also an attack on democracy, according to Lubnau, who said that the committee hearings in Washington on January 6 are “beginning to peel back the layers” of this.
There are several different types of voters in Wyoming, according to Lubnau, a former Army colonel who now practices law and has endorsed Denton Knapp, a less well-known GOP primary contender.
Some of these voters revere Cheney for opposing Trump, and they don’t hesitate to express their admiration. Others who back Hageman believe that Cheney betrayed them by speaking out against Trump’s attempt to rig the 2020 election or who “can’t separate being furious over Jan. 6 with a total endorsement of the Democratic program.”
“I’m not sure of the exact statistics, but about 60% of us make our decisions based solely upon emotions, and Rep. Cheney is one of those rational decision makers who makes her decisions based upon the facts. And so I don’t know if she can develop enough emotion to sway the emotional voters,” Lubnau said.
Some Cheney backers are less upbeat and worry about her chances of winning. “I’m cautious and concerned … I’m not optimistic, but I’m hanging in there,” said Joanne Tweedy, a Cheney backer from Gillette. “I call people every day. Anybody I can talk to and change their mind, I do.”
Tweedy told Yahoo News that she does not even have a Cheney sign up in her yard. “I have neighbors that may or may not be happy if I put one up, so I just don’t want the hateful thoughts and comments.”
“I know a lot of quiet people who say, ‘We’re going to vote for Liz, we just don’t want our name on those surveys,’” Tweedy said. “I just don’t know how many that is.”
Many Cheney backers expressed optimism that the congresswoman’s political career would easily move on to the next phase if she lost to Hageman. They did, however, anticipate that she would run for president in 2024 regardless of the outcome, tempering their hopes for the near future.
“Don’t worry about her. Don’t get concerned about her. Whatever she is doing, she knows exactly what she’s doing, and if it doesn’t work, there’ll be something else she’ll be doing,” former Wyoming Sen. Alan Simpson, a Cheney supporter, told Yahoo News.
Additionally, Simpson claimed that the Jan. 6 committee, which Cheney assists in leading, is progressively helping her. “Every day that goes by, they strip some of the sheen off of Donald J. Trump. When this primary comes up, Aug. 16th, they will have stripped the emperor’s clothes,” he said.
According to Simpson, Hageman’s momentum is being sapped by Cheney’s recent challenge to her, which is as simple as challenging her to admit that the 2020 election was fair and not rigged.
The Liz Cheney Revolution
Cheney threw down the gauntlet in the debate on July 1 between himself, Hageman, and three other contenders for Wyoming’s lone House of Representatives seat.
“I’d be interested to know whether or not my opponent Ms. Hageman is willing to say here tonight that the election was not stolen. She knows it wasn’t stolen,” Cheney said.
“I think that she can’t say that it wasn’t stolen because she’s completely beholden to Donald Trump. And if she says it wasn’t stolen, he will not support her. So we’ve got to be honest.”
Bill Stepien, who is currently advising Hageman, served as Trump’s campaign manager in 2020. Stepien was one of many close Trump advisors to testify before the committee on January 6 under oath that the election wasn’t rigged and that Trump was aware of this as early as election night.
Additionally, Liz Cheney used the word “betrayed” against Hageman, who has been accused of forsaking Wyoming by opposing Trump on numerous occasions.
“I think that there’s a real tragedy that’s occurring, and the tragedy is that there are politicians in this country, beginning with Donald Trump, who have lied to the American people, and people have been betrayed,” Cheney said.
“He consistently has said that the election was stolen when it wasn’t, when it’s absolutely clear, the courts decided, the courts determined the outcome.”
Hageman, in response, said the Jan. 6 committee’s process has been “totally unfair.” Voters, she said, are “terribly concerned about the lack of due process” and “that there’s no ability to confront or cross-examine witnesses.”
“You might have 15 hours of videotaped depositions, and the committee shows 13 seconds of something, or two and a half minutes of something,” Hageman said.
Hageman also tried to dodge Cheney’s question, instead saying there are “serious questions about the 2020 election.”
She based this claim on the $500 million gift made by Mark Zuckerberg, the creator of Facebook, and his wife, Priscilla Chan, to assist with election administration across the nation in 2020 after Congress failed to appropriate enough funds to hold an election amid a pandemic.
However, for some Republican voters in Wyoming, the notion that the 2020 election was rigged for Biden still takes precedence. Bob Ide, a state Senate candidate who was in the crowd outside the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, when it was invaded by Trump supporters attempting to thwart certification of the results, claimed that “the uprising was before Jan. 6.” Ide dubbed the sessions on January 6 as a “show trial.”
Marti Halverson, a supporter of Hageman and a prominent Republican in Wyoming’s western region, endorsed Cheney in 2020 and welcomed the congresswoman to her residence that year.
However, Halverson told Yahoo News that she stopped backing Cheney after the Jan. 6 uprising, when she voted to remove Trump from office. Cheney, according to her, committed his “most recent sin” last month by supporting legislation aimed at reducing gun violence.
Cheney was one of 14 House Republicans who backed the legislation, and it was approved by the Senate with the support of 15 Republicans to become law. Similar to Hageman, Halverson claimed the hearings on January 6 were “so one-sided as to be ludicrous” but added that she is “not hooked to them.”
“I have better things to do.”
“I have better things to do,” Halverson said. Even several Cheney backers voiced their displeasure with the Jan. 6 committee.
“I thought the committee was supposed to be finding out if there was any un-American activities going on with the event that day, but I think it’s gotten clear off from that. I think it’s taken after Trump completely, and maybe it’s a little misguided now,” said state Sen. James Anderson, who has endorsed Liz Cheney and is encouraging Wyomingites to vote for her.
State Representative Landon Brown, another well-known admirer of Liz Cheney, stated that Cheney’s candidacy is about more than just who would represent Wyoming in Congress.
The national Republican Party will be put to the test, he added, as to whether it can stand up for a set of values and the Constitution or whether it will continue down the path of deference and surrender to Trump, who has already demonstrated his disregard for the law and the will of the people.
“We have to think about what the outcome of this election ultimately means to our country, because this is not just Wyoming,” Brown told Yahoo News. “This is the outcome of our entire country that we’re looking at now.”
Simpson, the former senator, put it this way: “For me it’s really simple. Liz has attacked the root cause of a man who is so filled with himself and full of himself that he would actually get on the phone and tell somebody to change 11,000 votes in Georgia, or call somebody to say, ‘Why don’t you organize something in Michigan and send us a fake bunch of electors?’
“Now, for me, who is a poor old soul who practiced law and served in Congress — that, to me, is the baldest, boldest, the most egregious rape of the Constitution and all that America stands for,” Simpson said.