Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney was soundly beaten Tuesday by Donald Trump-backed challenger Harriet Hageman in a widely-watched Republican primary showdown.
In a concession speech after losing by a roughly 30-point margin, the third-term congresswoman compared herself to Abraham Lincoln, spoke of the importance of honoring the outcome of elections and repeatedly took aim at Trump, whom she had voted to impeach after the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.
“This is not a game. Every one of us must be committed to the eternal defense of this miraculous experiment called America,” Cheney said during the speech from Jackson, Wyoming.
“And at the heart of our Democratic process are elections. They are the foundational principle of our constitution.”
The 56-year-old daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney said she lost her Congressional seat because of her refusal to support Trump’s 2020 election-fraud claims.
“Two years ago I won this primary with 73% of the vote. I could have easily done the same again,” Cheney said.
“The path was clear, but it would have required that I go along with President Trump’s lie about the 2020 election. It would have required that I enable his ongoing efforts to unravel our democratic system and attack the foundations of our republic. That was a path that I could not and would not take.”
The congresswoman said no House seat is worth more than the principles US legislators are sworn to protect.
“Our Republic relies on the goodwill of all candidates for office to accept honorably the outcome of elections,” said Cheney, who called Hageman to concede the race.
“This primary election is over. But now the real work begins,” she added, hinting at a potential presidential run.
“The great and original champion of our party, Abraham Lincoln, was defeated in elections for the Senate and the House before he won the most important election of all,” she said.
“Lincoln ultimately prevailed, he saved our union and he defined our obligations as Americans for all of history.”
The race was called by NBC as incumbent Cheney garnered just 30% of the vote compared with Hageman’s 65% with about 10% of precincts reporting.
Hageman, in her victory speech in Cheyenne, thanked Trump for his backing.
“Obviously we’re all very grateful to President Trump, who recognizes that Wyoming has only one congressional representative and we have to make it count,” Hageman told her supporters.
Cheney raked in campaign donations from Democrats around the country and was expected to receive a modest boost from Wyoming Democrats crossing parties to vote for her in the Republican primary.
The incumbent’s loss was widely anticipated, however, and she becomes Trump’s top scalp in a revenge tour against the 10 House Republicans and seven Republican senators who voted to impeach or convict him of inciting last year’s Capitol riot.
“Congratulations to Harriet Hageman on her great and very decisive WIN in Wyoming,” Trump wrote on his social media website.
“This is a wonderful result for America, and a complete rebuke of the Unselect Committee of political Hacks and Thugs. 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.”
But Cheney has signaled she will remain active in politics and has even flirted with running for president in 2024 — possibly against Trump.
The 45th president repeatedly denounced Cheney as a “warmonger” during the campaign and urged voters to embrace his “America First” mantra instead of her more interventionist views on foreign policy — while Cheney returned fire, trashing Trump as a would-be dictator.
Cheney is the vice chair and de facto lead prosecutor of the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021 Capitol riot and has played a leading role in narrating Trump’s actions leading up to that day — as well as his inaction during the violence.
“I say this to my Republican colleagues who are defending the indefensible; there will come a day when Donald Trump is gone, but your dishonor will remain,” Cheney said in June at a public hearing of the riot committee.
But Cheney’s tensions with Trump had mounted even before the Capitol was pillaged by a wild mob of his supporters. In fact, he attacked her by name on Jan. 6, moments before the crowd broke into the building in a bid to stop the certification of President Biden’s victory.
In his pre-riot speech, Trump told his supporters, “We’ve got to get rid of the weak congresspeople, the ones that aren’t any good, the Liz Cheneys of the world. We got to get rid of them. We got to get rid — you know, she never wants a soldier brought home.”
One month before the riot, Trump vetoed a $740 billion defense bill in part because of Cheney-pushed restrictions on removing US troops from Afghanistan, Germany and South Korea.
Cheney outraged fellow House Republicans after accepting a post on the riot committee even after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) rejected pro-Trump Republicans nominated to the panel by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.)
Cheney later accused House GOP leadership of having “enabled white nationalism, white supremacy, and anti-semitism.”
The Wyoming rep’s reputation as an anti-Trump crusader even created speculation that she might be tapped as Biden’s running mate for the 2024 election — in what would be a rare fusion ticket.
Vice President Kamala Harris in January slammed “gossip” that Biden might replace her with someone else, such as Cheney.
Cheney told The Post in April 2021 that she may run for president, without specifying when that may happen. “I’m not ruling anything in or out — ever is a long time,” she said.
In the final stretch of the campaign, Dick Cheney, who held the same House seat from 1979 to 1989, released a video ad for his daughter.
“In our nation’s 246-year history, there has never been an individual that was a greater threat to our republic than Donald Trump,” the elder Cheney said. “He tried to steal the last election using lies and violence to keep himself in power after the voters rejected him. He is a coward. A real man wouldn’t lie to his supporters.”
Dick Cheney added, “Liz is fearless. She never backs down from a fight. There is nothing more important she will ever do than lead the effort to make sure Donald Trump is never again in the Oval Office and she will succeed.”
Cheney was until last year the No. 3 House Republican until she was ousted in retaliation for her persistent criticism of Trump. Her House colleagues initially stood by her after she voted to impeach Trump, but soured on her persistent rebukes of the ex-president.
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