Trump endorses Cheney challenger

Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) and members of the Jan. 6 Select Committee address reporters after informally meeting on July 1
Greg Nash

Former President Trump on Thursday officially endorsed Wyoming attorney Harriet Hageman’s campaign to oust Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), setting the battle lines in what is expected to be a fierce GOP House primary.

In his endorsement, Trump dubbed Hageman a loyal ally of his agenda while bashing Cheney, whom he has railed against since she voted to impeach him earlier this year over his role in inciting the Jan. 6 insurrection.

“I strongly endorse Republican House of Representatives Candidate Harriet Hageman from Wyoming who is running against warmonger and disloyal Republican, Liz Cheney,” he said.

“Harriet Hageman adores the Great State of Wyoming, is strong on Crime and Borders, powerfully supports the Second Amendment, loves our Military and our Vets, and will fight for Election Integrity and Energy Independence (which Biden has already given up). Unlike RINO Liz Cheney, Harriet is all in for America First. Harriet has my Complete and Total Endorsement in replacing the Democrats number one provider of sound bites, Liz Cheney,” he continued, using an acronym for “Republican in name only.”

Cheney swiftly responded to the endorsement, tweeting a picture of it with the caption, “Here’s a sound bite for you: Bring it.”

“I am honored to represent the people of Wyoming and proud of my strong conservative record. I look forward to an extended public debate about the importance of the rule of law and the solemn duty of elected officials to uphold their oath to the Constitution. It is tragic that some in this race have sacrificed those principles, and their duty to the people of Wyoming, out of fear and in favor of loyalty to a former president who deliberately misled the American people about the 2020 election, provoked an attack on the U.S. Capitol, and failed to perform his duties as president as the violence ensued,” she added in a longer statement. 

The endorsement, which was widely expected to land after news of the plans for an announcement leaked, is a key part of Trump’s plan to oust one of his greatest critics within the GOP.

Besides voting for Trump’s impeachment, Cheney has also been a consistent thorn in the former president’s side, repeatedly bringing up the Jan. 6 riot and serving as the vice chair of the special House committee investigating the attack.

That criticism has drawn fierce pushback from other Republicans, who ousted her as the No. 3 House Republican in May.

Trump is now hoping that his endorsement will clear the field of other primary challengers to Cheney. Hageman, who also came in third in the 2018 gubernatorial GOP primary, is one contender in a sprawling primary race, raising concerns among Cheney detractors that those candidates could split up the vote and allow the incumbent to score a victory in the nominating contest with a plurality of the vote.

Trump himself was involved in vetting the candidates, and his aides reportedly pushed Hageman to run and are pressuring other primary candidates to rally around her bid.

“This race is one of, if not the most important, race to President Trump,” a source with ties to the former president told The Hill in July.

No candidate immediately dropped out of the race after news of the impending endorsement broke on Wednesday, but one contender, Anthony Bouchard, indicated he’d stay in the race, knocking Hageman over her support of and involvement in Cheney’s past campaigns.

“Liz Cheney succeeded getting Trump to pick Cheney’s BFF for her replacement. Hageman was in Cheney’s Campaign both initial and re-elections,” he tweeted Wednesday.

Cheney’s defeat is far from certain, particularly if the primary field remains crowded.

The scion of a prominent political family with deep roots in Wyoming, she is expected to be able to beef up her campaign coffers with donations from in state and across the nation. She also boasts broad name recognition both inherited from her father, former Vice President Dick Cheney, and due to her time in Congress.

Still, Cheney is running in one of the most pro-Trump states in the country, with Wyoming going for the former president by more than 40 points in 2020.

The endorsement against Cheney is part of Trump’s overarching plan to punish GOP lawmakers who supported his ouster earlier this year. Trump in recent days has also endorsed challengers to Reps. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Wash.), both of whom voted for impeachment.

–Updated at 12:09 p.m.

Tags 2022 elections 2022 midterm elections Donald Trump Fred Upton Harriet Hageman House Jaime Herrera Beutler Liz Cheney Trump endorsement Wyoming

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