CASPER, Wyo. Few in Wyoming seem so confident in predicting what will happen in Liz Cheney’s primary election, even though the general consensus is that she’s facing an uphill battle to retain her seat in Congress.
Only a few polls have been published and they have shown Cheney down by large margins. Most political insiders in Wyoming say it is difficult to conduct polls in the state, especially when it is difficult to know how many voters will show up and who they want to be. But they also agree that although opinion polls have been turned off to some degree, it is clear that Cheney is well behind her main opponent, Harriet Hageman, who has the backing of former President Donald Trump.
But with a month until the August 16 primary election, in a by-election that has major implications for the future of the National Republican Party, there is a sense among some that there are ripples of movement that are difficult to detect except through private conversations.
“If you had asked me six months ago if Cheney had a chance, I would have said, ‘Not in the world.’ But now I think she’s developing support, “Tom Lubnau, a former Republican spokesman for the State House, told Yahoo News.” She is far behind. I do not know if there is enough time or momentum to beat Hageman. “
The committee hearings on January 6 in Washington, Lubnau said, “begin to peel back the layers” of how the attack on the Capitol was also an attack on democracy.
Lubnau, who now practices law and has supported the lesser-known GOP primary candidate Denton Knapp, a retired Army colonel who is his childhood friend, said there are a few different types of voters in Wyoming.
Some of these voters respect Cheney for standing up to Trump and have no problem saying so. Others who support Hageman feel that Cheney betrayed them by confronting Trump over his attempt to overthrow the 2020 election, or “cannot separate being angry over January 6 with full support for the Democratic agenda.”
And then there is another group that “keeps their mouths shut and does not want to quarrel but wants to vote for Cheney,” Lubnau said. The last group “is growing, but I do not know if it grows large enough to overcome the hole that Rep. Cheney dug for himself.”
“I’m not sure the exact statistics, but about 60% of us make our decisions based solely on emotions, and Rep. Cheney is one of the rational decision makers who makes his decisions based on facts. So I do not know, whether she can develop enough emotions to influence the emotionally charged voters, ”Lubnau said.
Other Cheney supporters are less than happy and express concern about her chances of winning.
“I’m cautious and worried … I’m not optimistic, but I’m hanging in there,” said Joanne Tweedy, a Cheney supporter from Gillette. “I call people every day. Anyone I can talk to and change my mind, I do.”
Tweedy told Yahoo News that she does not even have a Cheney enrollment in her farm. “I have neighbors who may or may not be happy if I put one up, so I just don’t want those hateful thoughts and comments.”
“I know a lot of quiet people who say, ‘We want to vote for Liz, we just do not want our name on those polls,'” Tweedy said. “I just do not know how many there are.”
Several Cheney supporters expressed hope that the congresswoman’s political career will simply go into another chapter if she loses to Hageman, and manage their short-term expectations while predicting that she will run in the 2024 presidential election no matter what.
“Do not worry about her. Do not worry about her. No matter what she does, she knows exactly what she is doing, and if it does not work, there will be something else she will do,” said former Wyoming Senator Alan Simpson, a Cheney supporter, to Yahoo News.
Simpson also said the January 6 committee, which Cheney is helping chair, is gradually giving her a boost. ‘Every day that passes, they remove some of the brilliance of Donald J. Trump. When this primary election comes up, on August 16, they will have taken off the emperor’s clothes, ”he said.
Simpson added that the simplicity of Cheney’s recent challenge to Hageman – daring her to acknowledge that the 2020 election was legitimate and not stolen – undermines Hageman’s momentum.
In the July 1 debate between Cheney, Hageman and three other candidates for Wyoming’s single seat in the House of Representatives, Cheney put on a glove.
“I would be interested to know if my opponent Mrs Hageman is willing to say here tonight that the election was not stolen. She knows it was not stolen,” Cheney said.
“I think she can not say it was not stolen because she is completely dependent on Donald Trump. And if she says it was not stolen, he will not support her. So we have to be honest. “
Cheney also pointed out that Bill Stepien, who now advises Hageman, was Trump’s campaign manager in 2020 and was one of many close Trump advisers who testified under oath before the committee on Jan. 6 that the election was not stolen and that Trump knew this already on election night.
Cheney also turned the word “betrayed” against Hageman, who has repeatedly accused her of betraying Wyoming by standing up to Trump.
“I think there’s a real tragedy going on, and the tragedy is that there are politicians in this country, starting with Donald Trump, who have lied to the American people and people have been betrayed,” Cheney said. .
“He has consistently said that the election was stolen when it was not, when it is quite clear the courts decided, the courts determined the outcome.”
Hageman said in response that the committee’s trial on January 6 has been “completely unfair.” Voters, she said, are “terribly concerned about the lack of a fair trial” and “that there is no way to confront or cross-examine witnesses.”
“You might have 15 hours of video footage, and the selection shows 13 seconds of something, or two and a half minutes of something,” Hageman said.
Hageman also tried to drop Cheney’s questions, saying instead that there are “serious questions about the 2020 election.”
Her basis for this claim was $ 500 million, which was donated by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, to help the election administration around the country in 2020, after Congress failed to allocate sufficient funds to implement a elections during a pandemic.
(Yahoo News conducted a detailed investigation last December into criticism of Zuckerberg’s donations and found that there was little evidence that the money helped Joe Biden or other Democrats in a meaningful way.)
Still, the belief that the 2020 election was false for Biden continues to trump facts among some Republican voters in Wyoming. “The uprising was before January 6,” said Bob Ide, a state senate candidate who was part of the crowd outside the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, when it was stormed by Trump supporters trying to stop the certification of the results . Ide called the hearings on January 6 a “show process”.
Hageman supporter Marti Halverson, an active member of the Wyoming Republican Party in the western part of the state, supported Cheney in 2020 and hosted the congresswoman in her home that year. But she stopped supporting Cheney when she voted to sue Trump after the January 6 uprising, Halverson told Yahoo News.
She said Cheney’s “latest offense” was to vote for legislation last month to reduce gun violence. Cheney was one of 14 House Republicans who supported the measure, which passed the Senate by 15 Republican votes and became law.
Halverson, like Hageman, called the January 6 hearings “so one-sided that they are laughable,” but also said she “is not glued to them.”
“I have better things to do,” Halverson said.
Even some of Cheney’s supporters expressed dissatisfaction with the committee on January 6 to Yahoo News.
“I thought the committee was supposed to find out if there were any un-American activities going on at the event that day, but I think it has become clear from that. I think it has been taken completely after. Trump, and maybe it’s a little wrong now, “said State Senator James Anderson, who has supported Cheney and urged the Wyomingites to vote for her.
Another prominent Cheney supporter, State Representative Landon Brown, said Cheney’s candidacy is about more than just who represents Wyoming in Congress.
It is a test, he said, of whether the National Republican Party can stand for a set of principles and for the Constitution, or whether it will go further down the path of obedience and submission to Trump, who has already shown no regard for the rule of law or the will of the people.
“We need to think about what the outcome of this election ultimately means for our country, because it’s not just Wyoming,” Brown told Yahoo News. “This is the result of our whole country that we are looking at now.”
Simpson, the former senator, put it this way: “For me, it’s really simple. Liz has attacked the cause of a man who is so full of himself and full of himself that he would actually pick up the phone and tell someone to change 11,000 votes in Georgia, or call someone to say, ‘Why don’t you organize yourself in Michigan and send us a fake bunch of voters?’
“Now, for me, who’s a poor old soul who practiced law and served in Congress – it’s for me the baldest, most daring, the most horrible constitutional rape and all that America stands for,” Simpson said.