Liz Cheney primary prompts intense GOP split in Washington

In an extraordinary move on Thursday, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy — who was under pressure from his right to put his political clout behind Cheney’s ouster — officially backed his primary foe, Harriet Hejman, who has been voted down by Trump. is supported. Less than 24 hours later, New York’s House GOP convention chair Alice Stefnik, the No. 3 Republican who replaced Cheney in the leadership, also threw her weight behind Heijman.

“When I took over as convention speaker, House Republicans were ready for a change, and it’s abundantly clear that there are Wyoming families,” Stefnick said in a statement Friday. “Liz Cheney left her constituents to become a far-left Pelosi puppet. Liz is sadly in the MSNBC or CNN News Chair, not the ones representing Wyoming in Congress — a state that has given President Trump a forty Voted over marks.”

It’s unclear whether House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, the No. 2 House Republican, will follow suit and enter the race; His office did not return a request for comment. Minnesota Representative Tom Emmer, head of the House GOP’s campaign arm, reiterated to CNN earlier this month that the committee has an official policy of remaining neutral in primaries.

But Hardline is expected to join the effort to oust Cheney from the House Freedom Caucus, and at the Capitol, longtime Cheney rival Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky has already backed Hejman.

Cheney has his share of congressional aides in his corner, including Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah, who will be a special guest at the Cheney fundraiser next month, as well as retired Representative Adam Kizinger of Illinois, who launched a PAC dedicated to Promoting anti-Trump Republicans.

Meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina both donated to Cheney’s reelection campaign before she was a primary challenger, but she impeached Trump for inciting the January 6 rebellion. Voted to run. And McConnell came to Cheney’s defense earlier this month when the Republican National Committee voted for him and Kizinger for their roles on the House select committee investigating the Capitol attack; McConnell also backed Cheney in the midst of the first conservative-led effort to remove him from the leadership.
Cheney: Trump is trying to 'open the foundation of our constitutional republic'.
While the McCarthy-Cheney feud has been going on for more than a year, it is still notable for leaders to intervene in primaries – especially one that involves an incumbent. Not to mention, McCarthy and Cheney were lifelong collaborators serving on the same leadership team. And it’s particularly unusual to see the GOP pour energy and resources into a seat that’s guaranteed to stay red in November.

But Cheney’s primary, which will take place this August, has become a proxy war in the fight over Trumpism and will be seen as a preliminary test of whether the former president still has a firm grip on the GOP. Hence members of both sides of the party are feeling the need to take sides in the fight and provide rare support in the primary involving their ally.

Yet it’s also a gamble, especially for GOP leaders: If Cheney defeats Hejman and returns to Congress, it will be a major blow to McCarthy and Trump allies. And not everyone in the party wants to see the leadership involved, with some Republicans worried it could further expose divisions in their party and potentially undermine their efforts to win a majority in November.

Some Republican lawmakers have also warned that nationalizing the race could backfire.

“It is a mistake to make this primary referendum on allegiance to Trump a mistake,” said a senior GOP lawmaker.

Others expressed doubts that the fresh batch of supports coming from DC will move the needle in Wyoming.

“Not a big surprise and I’m not sure what it would mean to support Kevin in Wyoming, but maybe an endorsement from Pelosi for Hejman could offset that?” Michigan Representative Fred Upton, who also voted to impeach Trump. “At the end of the day it will be the voters, not the outsiders, who influence the final result.”

There are political advantages to ousting Cheney.

Despite the potential risks, backing Cheney’s challenger has some immediate political benefits for McCarthy. Members of the Freedom Caucus were pressuring McCarthy to take action against Cheney, but the GOP leader rejected calls to kick him and Kinzinger out of the convention. Instead, McCarthy has settled on a working strategy to get him out of Congress entirely — an easy way to win points with Trump’s allies, which will be crucial in any future speaker’s bid.

Stefanik has also faced some skepticism from conservatives, who were wary of his liberal record. While Stefnik said she would not seek the conference chair position again, she could make a play for a different leadership position or committee if she wins a majority. Backing Heijman may help him stand up to conservatives; Stefnik also has a history of playing in primaries to elect Republican women.

His support, which can come with campaign checks and fundraisers, can provide a much-needed boost to Heijman’s campaign treasury. So far, Hageman has struggled to outpace Cheney, which brought in $2 million compared to Hageman’s $443,000 last quarter.

Among Cheney’s critics, there is also hope that Hejman’s support from powerful members of Congress could help bolster the primary sector and force the remaining Cheney anti-GOP candidates to pull out.

But when it comes to voters in Wyoming, it’s not clear how much impact these endorsements will have — if any. In fact, Cheney’s aides say it will now enable him to run as an outsider to take on the DC swamp.

Since receiving McCarthy’s support, Hejman has indicated that she will support him for speaker.

“My priority is to restore Wyoming’s lone congressional seat to the people of Wyoming and represent their interests. I’m going to call on McCarthy, the next congressman, to clean up Nancy Pelosi’s mess and hold the Biden administration accountable to the American people.” I look forward to working together.” said in a statement to CNN.

In a sign that Trump is terrified of Ving Cheney’s chances of victory, Trump and his allies are pressing the governor of Wyoming to change state laws to prevent Democrats from being able to vote in the Republican primary. .

Not everyone in the GOP agrees that this is the right move.

The senior GOP lawmaker said, “Trump Jr. and others are making a mistake with all these attempts to change the voting law in WY. I think it could backfire in a state that has a strong identity of individualism.” Is.” “His efforts will be better spent communicating with voters why the other candidate is good and Cheney is bad. And helping the other candidate raise money so he can run his race.”

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