JACKSON, Wyo. – Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., a former GOP House leader and daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, was ousted Tuesday night in a Republican primary, NBC News projects.
Former President Donald Trump’s name was not on the ballot, but his shadow overshadowed the contest as he sought revenge for Cheney’s vote last year to have him and her work on the committee investigating his conduct in the run-up to the Capitol attack. of January 6. His hand-picked challenger, Harriet Hageman, defeated Cheney in a multi-candidate race.
Speaking at length to supporters here about Trump and the events of January 6, Cheney acknowledged that she had lost. She said she called Hageman to admit, while appearing to be at odds with Trump, who refuses to admit he lost the 2020 election and continues to perpetuate the lie that a second term was stolen from him. She also hinted that she is not ready in politics.
“These primaries are over,” Cheney said. “But now the real work begins.”
While her parents were in the audience, Cheney noted that she won her primary with more than 70 percent of the vote two years ago and that she could have done the same on Tuesday night if she had stuck to Trump’s election lies.
“That was a path I couldn’t and wouldn’t take,” she said.
And without specifying how, Cheney vowed to continue her crusade against Trump, who is likely to run for president again in 2024.
“We need to be very clear about the threat we face,” she said, reiterating a pledge to “do whatever it takes to make sure Donald Trump never comes near the Oval Office again.”
The Republican Party is important to her, Cheney added, but “I love my country more.”
Trump congratulated Hageman and swiped at Cheney in a message he posted on his social media platform late Tuesday.
“This is a wonderful result for America, and a full rebuke to the Unselect Committee of Political Hacks and Thugs,” he wrote, referring to the House committee investigating Jan. 6. “Liz Cheney should be ashamed of the way she acted, and her hateful, hypocritical words and actions towards others. Now she can finally disappear into the depths of political oblivion where, I’m sure, she’ll be much happier.” than she is now.”
Rep. Liz Cheney joins TODAY live Wednesday for an exclusive interview. Tune in at 7 p.m. ET.
Hageman, in prepared remarks telling her campaign that she planned to deliver her victory speech, said her victory “has informed the elites — we will no longer tolerate representatives who do not represent us.”
She has also credited Trump for encouraging her with his endorsement.
“We are all grateful to President Donald Trump, who understood that Wyoming only has one congressional representative and we need to make it count,” Hageman planned to say. “His clear and unwavering support from the start has propelled us to victory tonight.”
Cheney’s battles with Trump cost her her place in the House Republican leadership last year and now her seat, but it also gave her an elevated platform, a monstrous fundraising profile, and the respect of some Democrats who taunted her father.
The split-screen footage of Cheney — who lost popularity at home while her profile rose nationally — has raised the question of 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 winning the presidency, ending slavery and winning the Civil War.
Unbothered by her loss, Cheney compared Trump’s attacks on federal law enforcement after last week’s search for his Mar-a-Lago home to his actions before Jan. 6.
“Donald Trump knows that uttering these conspiracies will provoke violence and threats of violence,” she said. “It is fully foreseeable that the violence will escalate further.”
Cheney is the last Republican to fall for a Trump-backed primary challenger after voting to impeach him. Four out of ten have chosen to retire, three have already lost primaries and two have survived the primaries. In one of those two games, Trump did not approve a challenger.
On Tuesday, no one could mistake Cheney for a Trump-style populist at her election night party.
Set on a sprawling ranch against the breathtaking backdrop of the Teton Mountains, Cheney’s was an incongruously urban affair with a country band, beer and wine bars, a barbecue truck, and plates of fresh fruit.
Valets parked cars for guests and took them to a tent-covered set of black-clad tables in four-door SUVs. A gleaming red antique Chevy truck was parked next to the podium set aside for her comments.
Cheney was first elected to her father’s seat in 2016, and she was immediately labeled a rising star because of her background—both her father’s legacy and her experience as a senior State Department official—and her net worth. to convey political messages powerfully and concisely.
In just her second term, she took the helm of the GOP conference, ranking third among Republicans outnumbered by the party. But January 6 and its aftermath served as a political breaking point for Cheney, who quickly turned her back on Trump and other House Republican leaders.
But in the end, her star fell as quickly as it rose in Wyoming and in Congress.
Cheney’s January 2021 vote to impeach Trump alienated many fellow Republicans, who represent about three-quarters of registered voters in the state. In May of that year, House Republicans fired her from her position as conference chair because she continued to criticize Trump and his allies in Congress.
She completed her break with the Trump-dominated Republican establishment by joining the Jan. 6 committee and using her platform there as vice chair to accuse Trump of illegal and unconstitutional attempts to undo the results of the 2020 election. culminating in the attack on the Capitol.
“The Cowboy State is ready to send principled conservative leadership to Washington, DC – someone who will stand up to the radical left and will work on the issues they care about: cutting costs, ending the war on American energy, rejecting the reckless Biden agenda , and take back the gavel from Nancy Pelosi in November,” Republican National Committee chairman Ronna McDaniel said in a statement emailed after the race for Hageman was called.
For some Democrats, Tuesday’s result had both political and personal significance.
“Making friends across the aisle was not easy in a Covid conference after an uprising,” said D-Mass Representative Jake Auchincloss. “Liz has become a friend, though – she’s looking for common ground. Washington needs more people who will listen to each other and work with each other.”
Cheney’s stance against Trump made it impossible for her to get a grip on Republican voters here, where he won the 2020 election by 43 percentage points.
Given Wyoming’s deeply Republican makeup, Hageman is overwhelmingly favorite to win the general election. Lynnette Gray Bull defeated several other candidates to win the Democratic nomination, NBC News projects.
Trump’s strong support for Hageman — who unsuccessfully ran for Wyoming’s GOP nomination for governor in 2018 — is notable for her previous reservations about him. She had strongly opposed his candidacy in 2016, expressing concern that the party would rally around “someone who is racist and xenophobic”. The New York Times reported last year. Hageman told the newspaper at the time that she had since started looking at Trump in a different way — as “the greatest president of my life.”
Elsewhere on Tuesday, Alaska has a trio of races with national implications.
In the Senate’s impartial primaries, four candidates advance to a November general election determined by rank-based voting. Trump has made his presence known and backs Kelly Tshibaka over incumbent Senator Lisa Murkowski, who sparked Trump’s anger after voting to convict him in his second impeachment trial, following the January 6 uprising. Both are expected to be on the list in November.
Meanwhile, former Alaska governor Sarah Palin’s political comeback depends on two games. She is one of three candidates in a special ranked choice election to run for the remaining months of the late Rep. Don Young to fill the state’s major congressional seat. And she’s competing in a multi-candidate primary that will send the top four voters to a November general election that will determine the winner of a full two-year term representing the district.