Despite the determined opposition of her party’s leaders – Donald Trump in particular – Wyoming Congresswoman Liz Cheney has officially filed for re-election, setting up a nail-biting primary this August.
In a video declaring her candidacy, Ms Cheney reiterated that her duty was both to her state and to the US Constitution, and cast her campaign as an effort to safeguard American democracy itself.
“If we set aside our founding principles for the politics of the moment,” she says, “the miracle of our constitutional republic will slip away. We must not let that happen.”
Ms Cheney, who is one of just two Republicans serving on the 6 January select committee, faces a stiff challenge from Republican attorney Harriet Hageman, who has gone from being a caustic Trump critic in 2016 to an exuberant supporter of the former president and his false claims that the 2020 election was stolen from him.
Among those endorsing Ms Hageman is not just Mr Trump, but also Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. However, Ms Cheney has also attracted the report of other top Trump critics in her party, not least Mitt Romney, who last year praised her for “refusing to lie”.
Mr Romney, the only Republican senator who voted to convict Mr Trump at both his impeachment trials, earlier this year headlined a fundraiser for the congresswoman in her home state. Ms Cheney’s campaign war chest is looking exceptionally healthy by congressional standards; at the end of this year’s first fundraising quarter, she was reported to have nearly $7m on hand.
In Wyoming, we know what it means to ride for the brand. We live in the greatest nation God has ever created, and our brand is the U.S. Constitution.
I’m running for re-election and asking for your vote because this is a fight we must win. https://t.co/iPv8zYzseD
— Liz Cheney (@Liz_Cheney) May 26, 2022
Here’s a sound bite for you: Bring it. pic.twitter.com/VmET1JUs12
— Liz Cheney (@Liz_Cheney) September 9, 2021
Having served as a staunch conservative since 2017, Ms Cheney dramatically broke with Donald Trump (and thus her party’s leadership) after the 6 January attack on the US Capitol, joining just nine of her House GOP colleagues to vote to impeach the 45th president for helping to incite the riot.
That act of apostasy and her subsequent statements saw her removed as the third-most senior member of the House’s Republican leadership team. Speaking to reporters after her colleagues voted to oust her, she doubled down, insisting that “I will do everything I can to ensure that the former president never again gets anywhere near the Oval Office.”
Since then, her enmity with senior members of her party’s House caucus and with the former president has only deepened. Earlier this year, leaked audio recordings from the aftermath of the 6 January attack revealed that she and Mr McCarthy had explicitly discussed how to get Mr Trump to leave office as soon as possible.