Liz Cheney’s political career is about to end — and begin

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Jackson, Wyo. – The two-minute video, ostensibly a final appeal to voters here, could be the starting point of a campaign that will last for years to come.

“No matter how long we have to fight, this is a battle we will win,” Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) said. tells the camera, He promised to lead “millions of Americans” of all ideological stripes “united for freedom.”

“This is our great task and we will win. I hope you will join me in this fight,” concludes Cheney.

Cheney is looking to win the state’s at-large seat in the U.S. House over Republicans on Tuesday, which he is likely to lose.

She entered Congress six years ago with a relative celebrity, the daughter of a former vice president who spent years using Fox News appearances to deliver acid-tongued critiques of the Obama-Biden administration. And he will leave the Capitol in 4½ months, likely the face of an anti-Trump movement that has lost his old allies but left him with new supporters, focusing national attention on his next move.

“I believe he will run for president,” said James Rooks, a self-proclaimed “fierce liberal” to Jackson’s city council, sitting in a coffee shop overlooking Snow King Mountain.

President Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), Jan. 6 The caucus vice chairman may need to seek support outside the GOP base to win the upcoming Wyoming primary. (Video: Libby Casey, Joshua Carroll/The Washington Post)

Cheney has drawn questions about his ambitions since he first took office, but the intensity increased after this summer’s blockbuster hearings, in which he served as deputy chairman of a panel investigating the former president’s role in the January 6, 2021 coup. American capital.

“I will make a decision in 2024,” he said At the end of July, CNN.

According to friends and advisers, Cheney is clearly eyeing the prospect of actually winning the presidential nomination in a party still loyal to former President Donald Trump. Jan. He sees his future role the same way he sees the 6 Committee’s mission: blocking any path for Trump to return to the Oval Office.

“It’s about the danger he poses to the country, and he can’t be anywhere near that power,” she told a rally of supporters in Cheyenne shortly before committee hearings began in early June.

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Anti-Trump traditional conservatives have already discussed the possibility of Cheney running for the White House. “That conversation was very strong even before the Dick Cheney business,” Dimitri Melhorn said, referring to a campaign ad. It ran nationwide on Fox News and featured a condemnation of former Vice President Trump.

Melhorn advises a number of donors across the political spectrum who oppose Trump, including LinkedIn founder Reed Hoffman. Most are willing to provide significant financing for a Cheney bid.

That way, Cheney will spend several months after his assignment later this year figuring out his next steps. It could be starting a Trump-centered political organization or some think tank that matches media appearances.

But, of course, Cheney and a small but influential bloc of anti-Trump Republicans have decided that the 2024 candidate should be an unabashed adversary of the former president and other contenders expressing his misguided views about the 2020 election. .

The anti-Trump group fears a repeat of the 2016 campaign, in which rivals avoided attacking Trump’s unorthodox behavior and positions until it was too late. The growing 2024 Republican presidential field includes a collection of former presidents, his allies and other Republicans who want to emulate him and appeal to non-Trump voters, but not forcefully condemn Trump.

Cheney and his crowd want a candidate who will only serve as a political kamikaze, blowing up his candidacy but taking down Trump.

“You want it. Jan. 6 Rep. Adam Kinzinger (Ill.), the only Republican on the committee, said in a recent interview. “Someone [who] Being able to stand on stage and tell people the truth, I think that has a huge impact.

Melhorn said a group of anti-Trump donors would take on a Cheney campaign designed solely to attack Trump.

In that way, he said, “Republican voters are reminded of how bad Trump is, and it’s about letting somebody else get out of the primary.”

Cheney has been more outspoken in his condemnation of House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and other Republicans who have remained loyal to Trump despite inciting capital attacks.

But he is also upset by a lone group of Republicans who disparage Trump but instead hope the former president will disappear, notably Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

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“Where Kevin is like a full public embrace, McConnell is: Ignore, hope he goes away. That’s not going to work,” Cheney told the authors of “This Will Not Pass,” a book about the fallout from the 2020 election.

But Cheney’s singular focus on preventing Trump’s reelection has come at a heavy cost. His political world was turned upside down.

Over the weekend, McCarthy began hosting his annual major donor event in the village of Teton, about 15 miles north of Cheney’s polling station. It’s the same place There, Cheney and his father co-hosted a $1 million fundraiser on behalf of Trump in August 2019, but the resort owner has denounced Cheney and is backing his challenger, Trump-backer Harriet Hackman.

Instead of his traditional GOP support, Cheney is trying to rally tens of thousands of Democrats and independents across Wyoming to enter the Republican primary.

Indeed, local liberals are confused Their urgent support comes after decades of seeing the Cheney family as a political enemy.

“I can’t believe I’m even thinking about this. The world is crazy,” recalled Diana Welch, an adviser to Kristy Walton, the billionaire heir to the Walmart fortune. But last Monday, Welch happily Co-hosted an event in nearby Wilson Democrats outnumbered Republicans there, including as local elected officials.

Allie Noland, a local public relations executive, spent years as a Democrat, but dropped out a few years ago because GOP primaries were so important in this deeply conservative state.

He now organizes regular meetings for interested liberals at the Stagecoach Bar outside Jackson I’m learning how to support Cheney.

Then there are people like Mike May, who told friends on Saturday evenings how he owned a Volkswagen bus with a blunt bumper sticker on it from the early days of the Bush-Cheney administration: “Cheney is a creep.”

His heritage truck now has a “Cheney for Wyoming” sticker. She said she was on Monday’s show to say “thank you” for standing up to Trump.

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According to For state recordsChange is real.

On January 1, Republicans had more than 196,000 registered voters, while Democrats had about 46,000. By August 1, Republicans had gained 11,000 new voters, Democrats had lost 6,000 and unaffiliated voters had fallen by 2,000.

Teton County, traditionally the only liberal-leaning seat in Wyoming, now has more registered Republicans than Democrats, and voters could switch parties as early as Tuesday.

Teton County Clerk Maureen Murphy reported a shocking tilt in early voting toward Republicans: 3,259 votes had been cast in GOP primaries by the end of Friday, and just 166 in Democratic contests.

Cheney supporters believe those numbers indicate a real surge among crossover voters. Rooks, a Jackson councilman, has been converting to Democrats and independents in recent weeks, joining the GOP primary and scoring a decent amount of success.

“I have a couple of friends who couldn’t do it,” Roux said, recalling one who walked into an early voting polling place and ran out without voting for Cheney.

Republican friends are a tougher sell, he said. “I try to tell them to rebuke their faith.”

That scares Noland, who warns that the drive to get non-Republicans in the primary has alienated traditional GOP voters from Cheney. “It really fired up all the Republicans,” he said.

If Cheney loses the typical Wyoming Republican by a 2-to-1 margin, as the polls suggest, he will have to overcome more than 40,000 Democrats and independents — the highest number in a state that last saw only 115,000 people vote. Midterm GOP primary.

Even these crossover voters, like Patrice Kangas, want to look beyond Tuesday’s result and know what’s next. As he recounted on Stagecoach, he waited in line to meet Cheney for a while after Monday’s event, and finally asked if he would run for president.

“Big?” Kangas said.

“Oh,” replied Cheney, “I don’t know yet.”

Hannah Knowles contributed from Washington


An earlier version of this article incorrectly identified the city council member as James Brooks. His name is James Rooks. This version has been corrected.

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