Trump sought revenge for Cheney’s vote last year to impeach him and her work on the House committee investigating him. Neither endeared her to GOP voters in the state.
By Jonathan Allen and Henry J. Gomez
JACKSON, Wyo. — Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., a onetime House GOP leader and a daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, was ousted in a Republican primary Tuesday night, NBC News projects.
Former President Donald Trump’s name wasn’t on the ballot, but his shadow eclipsed the contest as he sought revenge for Cheney’s vote last year to impeach him and her work on the committee investigating his behavior leading up to the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. His hand-picked challenger, Harriet Hageman, defeated Cheney in a multi-candidate race.
With 80% of the vote counted before midnight, Hageman was leading Cheney by more than 32 points. But the result didn’t put an end to hostilities between Trump and Cheney. Instead, she vowed to escalate them.
“This primary election is over,” Cheney told her supporters, drawing a clear contrast between her acceptance of the outcome and Trump’s ongoing refusal to admit he lost the 2020 election. “But now the real work begins.”
Rep. Liz Cheney joins TODAY live Wednesday for an exclusive interview. Tune in at 7 a.m. ET.
Without elaborating on specific plans for her future, she emphasized that Trump, who is likely to seek the presidency again in 2024, is at the center of them.
“We must be very clear-eyed about the threat we face,” she said, repeating a previous pledge to “do whatever it takes to ensure that Donald Trump is never again anywhere near the Oval Office.”
In congratulating Hageman, Trump swiped at Cheney in a message posted on his Truth Social media platform late Tuesday.
“This is a wonderful result for America, and a complete rebuke of the Unselect Committee of political Hacks and Thugs,” he wrote, referring to the House committee investigating Jan. 6. “Liz Cheney should be ashamed of herself, the way she acted, and her spiteful, sanctimonious words and actions towards others. Now she can finally disappear into the depths of political oblivion where, I am sure, she will be much happier than she is right now.”
Hageman, in her victory speech, said the result showed that Republicans will “hold our elected officials accountable for their actions” — an allusion to Cheney’s tangles with Trump.
“What Wyoming has shown today is that, while it may not be easy, we can dislodge entrenched politicians who believe they’ve risen above the people they are supposed to represent,” Hageman told her supporters.
On one level, Wyoming is all but certain to trade out one Republican congresswoman for another in November. But this particular race proved an epic clash between the new and old establishments of the Republican Party, as well as competing visions of the future of the GOP and the republic.
With her parents in the audience, Cheney spoke about her deep ties to the Republican Party but said, “I love my country more.”
Cheney’s battles with Trump cost her her spot in House Republican leadership last year and now her seat, but it also provided her with an elevated platform, a monster fundraising profile and the respect of some Democrats who reviled her father.
The split-screen images of Cheney — losing popularity at home, while her profile rose nationally — have sparked questions about whether she will seek the presidency or slip into another role that keeps her at the forefront of the bipartisan anti-Trump set.
In her concession speech, Cheney compared herself to Abraham Lincoln, a Republican who lost a Senate race before he won the presidency, ended slavery and won the Civil War.
Cheney is the final Republican to fall to a Trump-backed primary challenger after having voted to impeach him. Four of the 10 opted to retire, three have already lost primaries, and two survived primaries. In one of those two contests, Trump didn’t endorse a challenger.
Unbowed by her loss, she compared Trump’s attacks on federal law enforcement after last week’s search of his Mar-a-Lago home to his actions before Jan. 6.
“Donald Trump knows that voicing these conspiracies will provoke violence and threats of violence,” she said. “It is entirely foreseeable that the violence will escalate further.”