Anti-Cheney measure stalls in Wyoming

A proposal to shift Wyoming’s elections to include primary runoffs for candidates who fail to garner 50 percent of the vote narrowly failed in the state Senate on Wednesday. 

The measure, which was shot down in a  15-14 vote, was endorsed by Donald Trump Jr. in an effort to undermine House Republican Conference Chair Liz CheneyElizabeth (Liz) Lynn CheneyJordan acknowledges talking to Trump on Jan. 6 Stefanik calls Cheney 'Pelosi pawn' over Jan. 6 criticism Kinzinger primary challenger picks up Cawthorn endorsement MORE’s (R-Wyo.) chances of retaining her seat after she voted to impeach his father, former President TrumpDonald TrumpMyPillow CEO to pull ads from Fox News Haaland, Native American leaders press for Indigenous land protections Simone Biles, Vince Lombardi and the courage to walk away MORE, for inciting an insurrection at the Capitol on Jan. 6. 

“Any Republican in Wyoming who does Liz Cheney's bidding and opposes SF145 is turning their back on my father and the entire America First movement. Support SF145 and lets send Lincoln Project Liz into retirement in 2022! #WYAL #Wyoming,” Trump Jr. tweeted earlier this month, referencing the anti-Trump GOP group. 

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State Sen. Bo Biteman (R), who sponsored the legislation, cited Cheney’s previous race as an example of a candidate not garnering more than half the vote. 

Cheney won her 2016 nine-way primary with 38 percent of the vote, with the runner-up coming in with just short of 21 percent. But she handily fended off her primary challenge in 2018, winning with almost 68 percent of the vote, despite having pushed back on Trump’s foreign policy stances and at times his rhetoric. 

“Many people don’t think that’s right. They want to delegate a majority of the party’s support and send our candidates to the general election,” Biteman said on the floor, according to the Wyoming Tribune Eagle.  

Others in the state legislature felt the move could be divisive and costly. 

"I've not really heard a great reason for changing 130 years of history yet," State Sen. Ed Cooper (R) said on the floor. 

Trump and his allies have vowed to take aim at lawmakers and candidates that have spoken out against him or voted in favor of impeachment. 

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Cheney — the No. 3 Republican in the House and the highest-ranking woman in GOP leadership — has repeatedly come under fire from conservatives for her criticisms of Trump, with local party officials censuring her for her vote. The Wyoming Republican has stood by her decision, calling it a vote of conscience. 

Trump. Jr. blasted Cheney during a rally hosted by Rep. Matt GaetzMatthew (Matt) GaetzGaetz, Greene and Gohmert turned away from jail to visit Jan. 6 defendants House GOP stages mask mandate protest House at war over Jan. 6 inquiry, mask mandate MORE (R-Fla.) — one of Turmp’s strongest allies and a vocal Cheney critic — in Wyoming earlier this year. 

And a group of conservative hardliners unsuccessfully attempted to oust Cheney from her leadership position in February. 

She faces two primary challengers, state Rep. Chuck Gray and state Sen. Anthony Bouchard, the latter of whom voted in favor of changing the primary process.