As political strategies go, Rep. Liz Cheney’s decision to aggressively corner the anti-Trump market in the Republican Party doesn’t seem to have paid off.
The Wyoming representative lost her position as head of the GOP caucus in the House in May; according to a Morning Consult poll, 50 percent of Republicans agreed with the removal against only 18 percent who said she should stay.
She’ll almost certainly have a serious primary challenge in 2022. Newsweek reported in May that a survey of 766 likely Republican primary voters by Remington Research Group found Cheyenne businessman Darin Smith leading Cheney by a 70 percent to 20 percent margin.
And, if she hopes to be a hero among the anti-Trump Republicans so as to make a dark-horse run for the White House in 2024, she should consider she was almost three times more popular among Democrats (42 percent) than Republicans (15 percent) in a May Morning Consult poll, according to Newsweek.
Now, two county Republican parties in Wyoming are relieving her of the burden of being called a Republican altogether.
According to the Casper Star-Tribune, the GOP in Park and Carbon counties unanimously voted to rescind their recognition of Cheney as a Republican following her vote to impeach former President Donald Trump and her decision to serve on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s Jan. 6 committee.
“You will no longer be recognized as the official Republican Congressional Representative by the Park County Republican Party,” Park County Republicans chairman Martin Kimmet wrote in a letter to Cheney last week.
On Saturday, the Carbon County Republicans also voted unanimously to de-recognize Cheney.
“Park County set up the ball, Carbon County spiked it,” Joey Correnti, chairman of the Carbon County Republican Party, told the Star-Tribune.
“And now other counties, I say by the end of the week you’ll have at least three or four other counties that are having meetings that will pass a similar resolution.”
“Representative Elizabeth Lynne Cheney, will officially no longer be personally recognized by the Carbon County Republican Party as a ‘REPUBLICAN’ Representative,” the county’s letter reads.
However, the resolution acknowledges they can’t alter Cheney’s political affiliation, as such a move is forbidden by state law.
“Even so, Correnti’s hope and prediction is that the resolution will eventually be adopted by the Central Committee of the Wyoming Republican Party,” the Star-Tribune’s Victoria Eavis wrote.
“Cheney’s censure took a similar path: A few counties led the way before nearly all followed suit. Finally, the state party acted to censure her.”
Correnti told the Star-Tribune that individuals from four other county Republican parties with upcoming meetings — Uinta, Big Horn, Laramie and Weston counties — requested copies of the Carbon County GOP’s resolution.
That could potentially make six out of Wyoming’s 23 counties where the GOP doesn’t recognize Cheney as a Republican.
So let the spin begin. According to Eavis’ reporting, the move is “symbolic and representative of the far right’s continued frustration with the congresswoman following her vote to impeach former President Donald Trump.”
This is a curious definition of “far right.” Perhaps one could chalk it up to general sloppiness on Eavis’ part. However, let’s assume she meant what she meant.
“Far right,” then, entails voting to de-recognize Cheney as a Republican after all this: First, Cheney voted to impeach Trump for the events of Jan. 6 — and became the most voluble Republican voice condemning both the former president and anyone in his orbit. In spite of this, the House GOP caucus overwhelmingly voted to keep her in her leadership position during a Feb. 3 closed-door meeting, according to CNN.
It became clear over the ensuing months that Cheney’s only vision for a path forward for the Republicans was a constant drum-beat of Trump-bashing, as if America faced no other issues.
After much sturm und drang, Cheney was removed from GOP leadership in May. The decision wasn’t because House Republicans were suddenly more willing to embrace Donald Trump. Instead, as the Washington Examiner’s Byron York put it at the time, “she had become a distraction from the GOP’s mission to oppose the Biden agenda and win back the House in 2022. Instead, Cheney seemed determined to re-fight the battles of November 2020 to January 2021.”
And the Democrats have been willing to let her remain a distraction, with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi inviting Cheney to join her blatantly political Jan. 6 commission, a Democrat dog-and-pony show if there ever was one. She accepted — and, as if to prove her critics right, delivered a veiled threat to subpoena Trump in her opening remarks.
The endgame for Cheney is to make every day feel like Jan. 7, 2021. That’s her brand, that’s her way forward. Where does she think this will take her? Who knows — but the GOP needn’t follow her there. Wyoming’s Republicans disowning her isn’t too far right. Instead, it’s merely acknowledging the state’s sole representative is too far gone.
No, Wyoming’s county GOPs can’t legally strip Cheney of her party affiliation. They can merely do symbolically what Republican primary voters will likely end up doing electorally next year.
The sooner, the better.