Jackson (United States) (AFP) – Republican dissident Liz Cheney looks set to lose her US Congress seat Tuesday to an election-denying conspiracy theorist, in the latest signal of her party’s disavowal of traditional conservatism in favor of Donald Trump’s hardline “America First” movement.
Once considered Republican royalty, the lawmaker from Wyoming has become a pariah in the party over her role on the congressional panel pursuing Trump over the plot to overthrow the last election that culminated in the 2021 assault on the US Capitol.
All eyes are on the Wyoming Republican primary, where defeat for the 56-year-old elder daughter of former vice president Dick Cheney would mark the end of the family’s four-decade political association with one of America’s most conservative states.
Even her loyal backers have privately accepted that Cheney will likely lose to 59-year-old lawyer Harriet Hageman — Trump’s hand-picked candidate who has amplified his false claims of a “rigged” 2020 election.
The latest survey from the local Casper Star-Tribune has Cheney with just 30 percent support compared with 52 percent for Hageman, reflecting all recent polling.
‘We will win’
Yet there is already speculation that Cheney may challenge Trump for the Republican presidential nomination in 2024 — or even run as an independent — and insiders are expecting her to deliver a concession speech that will double up as the launchpad for her political future.
“No matter how long we must fight, this is a battle we will win,” she said in a video message posted before the weekend.
“Millions of Americans across our nation — Republicans, Democrats, independents — stand united in the cause of freedom.”
Cheney has framed her campaign as a battle for the soul of a party she is trying to save from the anticonstitutional forces of Trumpism.
She is the last of 10 Republicans in the lower House of Representatives who backed Trump’s second impeachment to be facing primary voters.
Four retired rather than seek reelection, three lost to Trump-backed opponents, and only two — California’s David Valadao and Dan Newhouse of Washington state — have made it through to November’s midterm elections.
Cheney, a tax-cutting, gun-loving right-winger, voted in line with Trump’s positions 93 percent of the time when he was president but that hasn’t blunted his retaliation for her role in the House committee probe.
Trump has made Cheney his bete noire, calling her “disloyal” and a “warmonger,” prompting death threats that have forced her to travel with a police escort.
Palin comeback bid
The blonde, bespectacled former attorney has also been made persona non grata by the Wyoming Republican Party, whose chairman himself participated in the protests on the day of the US Capitol assault.
“Liz is representing the constituents that are in her mind, and they aren’t the constituents of Wyoming,” said Mary Martin, chairwoman of the Republican Party in Teton County — Cheney’s Wyoming base.
Leaning on his red motorcycle, Bill Gonzales, 59, is one of the few voters who spoke to AFP in Cheyenne to defend Cheney’s record, saying she “has stood up for what is proper within the country.”
There are also elections in Alaska, where 2008 Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s comeback battle — to complete the term of a congressman who died in office — is dividing locals.
Fourteen years after rising to international fame on the losing Republican presidential ticket headed by John McCain, Palin remains popular among women as the “soccer mom” who pioneered the ultra-conservative “Tea Party” movement that paved the way for Trumpism.
But many voters blame her for abandoning her single term as govenor halfway through, amid ethics complaints, and a recent poll showed her to be viewed unfavorably by 60 percent of Alaskans.