Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, the most fervent Republican critic of Donald Trump in Congress, pledged to continue her fight against the former president and the election-denial movement he leads in a speech Tuesday night after admitting defeat in her primary.
She will lose to Trump-backed attorney Harriet Hageman, CNN projects.
“These primaries are over,” Cheney said in her speech. “But now the real work begins.”
Cheney is the last of 10 House Republicans to vote for Trump’s second impeachment vote against voters, and now becomes the eighth not to return to the House next year. Cheney’s loss, while widely anticipated, represents an important milestone in the wider battle over the direction of the Republican Party. Once considered an up and coming talent, she was ousted from the House GOP leadership last year for her unyielding opposition to the former president and trailed home in the polls this year as she led the House select committee that launched the attack. of January 6, 2021. on the United States Capitol.
Though she didn’t announce her plans, Cheney hinted at a future in elective politics.
“Our party’s great and original champion, Abraham Lincoln, was defeated in the Senate and House elections before winning the most important of them all,” she said. “Lincoln finally triumphed, he saved our union and he defined our obligation as Americans for all of history.”
Cheney’s attempt to show dignity in defeat was itself a clear response to Trump’s behavior since losing the 2020 election.
“No home seat, no office in this country is more important than the principles we are all sworn to protect. And I fully understood the potential political consequences of doing my duty,” Cheney said. “Our Republic relies on the goodwill of all candidates for office to honorably accept the results of the elections. And tonight Harriet Hageman got the most votes in this primary. She won. I called her to give up the race.”
Despite her conservative credentials and party pedigree, her role as Trump’s chief GOP critic on Capitol Hill made her a heavy underdog in a state that won the former president with nearly 70% of the vote in 2020. His enduring popularity there, coupled with Cheney’s His role as vice chair of the Jan. 6 House committee made the three-year congressman and daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney a top target of Trump allies.
Cheney said American democracy was facing an existential threat — that “our survival is not guaranteed” — and called out Republican state-level efforts to decertify the 2020 election results and target mid-term GOP candidates who had already begun to question doubts. sow about future votes.
“If we don’t condemn the conspiracies and the lies, if we don’t hold those responsible to account, we will excuse this behavior and it will become a feature of all elections,” Cheney said. “America will never be the same again.”
Trump’s grip on the GOP has been proven time and again since he left Washington. With Wyoming’s vote, Cheney becomes the fourth Republican in the House to vote to impeach Trump for losing her primary. Four others were not candidates for a new term. The two survivors so far, in California and Washington, have benefited from their states’ impartial primary system. Cheney had no such pillow, though a belated push on Democrats and Independents to enroll in the GOP primary would have softened the final count somewhat.
Leading Republicans on Capitol Hill had gathered around Hageman, who has embraced Trump’s false claims of voter fraud and called the 2020 contest “rigged.” House minority leader Kevin McCarthy, another Hageman supporter, said during an appearance on Fox News Monday that the Wyoming election would be “a referendum on the Jan. 6 committee.”
Cheney also addressed the recent search of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence in Florida on Tuesday, denouncing the former president’s attempts to foment anger among his supporters and potentially endanger FBI agents involved in the raid. by releasing some of their names.
“That was deliberate and malicious. No patriotic American should excuse or be intimidated by these threats,” Cheney said. “Our great nation should not be ruled by a mob provoked by social media.”
While Cheney issued a dire warning in Jackson, at her victory rally east of Cheyenne, Hageman thanked Trump and Congressional Republicans for their support.
“Wyoming showed today that, while it may not be easy, we can dispel deep-seated politicians who think they have risen above the people they are supposed to represent and serve,” Hageman said.
In a post on his own social media platform, Trump crowed about the loss of Cheney, calling it “a wonderful result for America”, before denouncing her as “hateful” and “hypocritical”.
“Now she can finally disappear into the depths of political oblivion where, I am sure, she will be much happier than she is now,” Trump wrote.
While Cheney may have been thrown into the wilderness of her party, a prominent figure from her recent past is hoping to bounce back from more than a decade off the electoral map. Former Alaska governor and 2008 vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, whose ascent heralded the party’s Trump era, returned to the vote on Tuesday.
In this new iteration, she was the Trump-approved candidate in a three-deep field vying for the rest of the seat of the late GOP Rep. Don Young to fill. But no candidate will win a majority of the vote in that race, CNN projects, meaning it will go to a ranked pick list slated to begin August 31.
Palin, who stepped down as governor in 2009, joined Nick Begich III, the Republican scion of the state’s most storied Democratic family, and former Democratic state representative Mary Peltola, who was supported by the independent Al Gross after he dropped out of the race. had fallen despite making the last four.
Those three special-election candidates also competed in a simultaneous primary to determine who advances to the November general election to occupy the seat of the state’s great House for the next full term. All three, CNN projects, will continue against a fourth candidate yet to be determined.
While Cheney’s fate in Wyoming has made the most of the headlines, Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski, a Republican who voted to convict Trump in his second impeachment trial, also faces new competition this year, fueled by her lack of loyalty to the former president. Unlike Cheney, Murkowski—himself the last in a proud statewide political dynasty—had a better chance of vanquishing the forces lined up against her.
That’s in large part thanks to Alaska’s unbiased top four primary, which, like the House race, sends the top four candidates to the general election, which will be decided by a ranked pick if no one gets a majority.
Murkowski, Republican Kelly Tshibaka and Democrat Patricia Chesbro advance to November’s election, CNN projects, against a fourth candidate yet to be determined. The top four system is expected to help Murkowski against Trump-backed Tshibaka, who is the former commissioner of the Alaska Department of Administration.
Murkowski has received widespread support in the past, across party lines, in a state that elected her father, Frank Murkowski, first to the Senate and then governor. He then appointed his daughter to her current position in 2002. When she was defeated in a 2010 tea party caucuses, Murkowski launched a bid campaign, beating GOP nominee Joe Miller in the fall.
In the governor’s race, Republican Governor Mike Dunleavy, Democrat Les Gara and independent former Prime Minister Bill Walker advance to the November election, CNN Projects, against a fourth candidate yet to be determined.
Walker would likely have lost to Dunleavy in his 2018 reelection bid had he not pulled out shortly before the election and endorsed Democrat Mark Begich.
Dunleavy, who is now looking for a second term, won the one-on-one match by less than 10 points.
This story has been updated with additional developments.