Top Republican Trump critic Cheney loses seat in US Congress

Published August 18, 2022
Liz Cheney. — AFP
Liz Cheney. — AFP

JACKSON: Republican rebel Liz Cheney lost her seat in Congress on Tuesday to an election conspiracy theorist, but vowed to fight on and do “whatever it takes” to ensure that former president Donald Trump is never returned to power.

Once considered Republican royalty, the lawmaker from Wyoming has become a pariah in the party over her membership on the congressional panel investigating the January 6 assault on the US Capitol — and Trump’s role in fanning the flames.

“I have said since January 6 that I will do whatever it takes to ensure Donald Trump is never again anywhere near the Oval Office, and I mean it,” the Wyoming congresswoman said in a concession speech after losing her bid at reelection.

Defeat for the 56-year-old daughter of former vice president Dick Cheney in the Wyoming Republican primary marks the end of the family’s four-decade political association with one of America’s most conservative states.

The Republican nomination to contest November’s midterms instead goes to 59-year-old lawyer Harriet Hageman — Trump’s hand-picked candidate who has amplified his false claims of a “rigged” 2020 election.

In her speech on Tuesday night, Cheney delivered a stark warning about the danger of Trump’s election fraud conspiracy theories, urging politicians on both sides of the aisle to join her fight to protect US democracy.

Speaking at a cattle ranch near Jackson, Cheney sought to move quickly beyond her defeat, setting out what she said was “real work” of her effort to ensure Trump never regains the White House.

She blamed the former president, who is embroiled in numerous criminal and civil investigations over alleged misconduct in office, for sending the deeply-divided United States towards “crisis, lawlessness and violence” with his inflammatory rhetoric.

“No American should support election deniers, for any position of genuine responsibility, (because) their refusal to follow the rule of law will corrupt our future,” she warned.

There is already speculation that Cheney may challenge Trump for the Republican presidential nomination in 2024 — or even run as an independent — and supporters were hoping her concession speech would double up as a blueprint for her political future.

She pointedly avoided addressing the issue, but had earlier told CBS that the primary — regardless of the result — would be “the beginning of a battle that is going to continue.” “We are facing a moment where our democracy really is under attack and under threat,” she said.

Cheney had framed her campaign as a battle for the soul of a party she is trying to save from the anti-constitutional forces of Trumpism. She was the last of 10 Republicans in the House of Representatives who backed Trump’s second impeachment to face primary voters.

Four retired rather than seek reelection, three lost to Trump-backed opponents, and only two — California’s David Valadao and Dan Newhouse of Washington state — have made it through to November’s midterm elections.

Cheney voted in line with Trump’s positions 93 percent of the time when he was president but he didn’t pull his punches as he sought vengeance for her role in the House committee probe. Trump has made Cheney his bete noire, calling her “disloyal” and a “warmonger,” prompting death threats that have forced her to travel with a police escort.

He called her defeat Tuesday night “a wonderful result for America.” “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,” he posted on his Truth Social platform.

During the lead-up to Tuesday’s vote in Wyoming — the first US state to grant women the right to vote, in 1869 — the congresswoman was forced to run a kind of shadow campaign, with no rallies or public events.

She even avoided the traditional election day photo op Tuesday, eschewing media at her local polling station to instead cast her ballot in nearby Jackson.

“Liz is representing the constituents that are in her mind, and they aren’t the constituents of Wyoming,” said Mary Martin, chairwoman of the Republican Party in Teton County — Cheney’s Wyoming base.

Published in Dawn, August 18th, 2022

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