Third Republican drops out of race to replace Cheney after Trump endorses challenger

Former President Trump’s endorsement of Wyoming attorney Harriet Hageman in the GOP primary to take out Rep. Liz CheneyElizabeth (Liz) Lynn CheneyMeadows hires former deputy AG to represent him in Jan. 6 probe: report Trump calls Liz Cheney a 'smug fool' The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Altria - White House tackles how to vaccinate children ages 5+ MORE (R-Wyo.) has pushed out a third candidate in under a week, further clearing what was a crowded field.

State Rep. Chuck Gray (R) said Tuesday he is suspending his campaign, joining Cheyenne businessman Darin Smith and Bryan Miller, chairman of the Sheridan County Republican Party, in dropping out of the race in order to consolidate support around Hageman.

“Our first and most important goal is to unite to defeat Liz Cheney,” Gray said in a press release. “With that in mind, I will be suspending my campaign today.”

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Gray had been one of the more prominent challengers, jumping into the contest early this year and crisscrossing the state.

However, Trump’s endorsement of Hageman last week marked a turning point in the GOP primary and a culmination of Republican anger with Cheney, who has infuriated the base with her vote to impeach Trump, her frequent needling of him over his unsubstantiated claims of election fraud and her role on the select committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection.

“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,” Trump said last week, using an acronym for "Republican in name only."

A number of lower-profile candidates have stayed in the race, including state Sen. Anthony Bouchard (R), who is facing headwinds after admitting he impregnated a 14-year-old when he was 18 years old. 

The unification behind Hageman is critical in Wyoming, where the winner of a primary needs only a plurality of votes, meaning that a divided field could divide up votes against Cheney while giving the incumbent a path to renomination.