Politics

Liz Cheney Is Likely Wyoming's Next Congresswoman

She wins the GOP primary for state's at-large House seat

Liz Cheney, center, seen here with Wyoming Sen. Mike Enzi in Washington in December 2015, won the Cowboy State's Republican primary Tuesday for its at-large House seat. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Liz Cheney, the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, has won the Republican primary for Wyoming's at-large congressional district, setting her up for an easy November election in this safe Republican seat.

When the Associated Press called the race Tuesday night, she had carried 40 percent of the vote in the nine-way primary for the seat her father once held. 

[The Return of Liz Cheney]

Cheney's victory will likely make her one of the few female freshmen in the House GOP conference next year. Republicans are losing several prominent female lawmakers to retirement at the end of this term, including current Wyoming Rep. Cynthia Lummis, the only female member of the House Freedom Caucus.

[Will Republicans Have Fewer Women in the House Next Year?]

Cheney has not ruled out joining the House Freedom Caucus when she gets to Washington. But her campaign coffers are lined with checks from big-name establishment Republicans who served in the two Bush administrations. Cheney, herself, served in the State Department during the George W. Bush administration.

But she has the support of at least one of the Freedom Caucus' likely incoming freshmen: Indiana Republican Jim Banks, who benefited from the caucus' political action committee, the House Freedom Fund, in his 3rd District primary, donated to Cheney.

"No state has been hurt more by Barack Obama’s agenda over the past seven-and-a-half years than Wyoming," Cheney said in a victory statement Tuesday. "Hillary Clinton represents a continuation of the same failed policies. Our freedom is under assault from an out-of-control federal government and our security is under threat from radical Islamic terrorism."

 

Cheney feels differently about the GOP presidential nominee than many of her establishment backers from her father's era. Like the former vice president, she supports Donald Trump. But many of her father's peers from the Bush administration do not. Notably, both former presidents Bush declined to attend this year's Republican National Convention. 

In an interview with The Washington Post's Paul Kane, Cheney spoke of herself as a "Liz Cheney Republican," and refused to be identified as either a "Trump Republican" or "Dick Cheney Republican." 

“You know, a Liz Cheney Republican is somebody who is a strong constitutional conservative, believes in limited government," she said, noting to Kane that she disagrees with some of Trump's foreign policy positions. 

[Why It Didn't Work for Liz Cheney]

“Wyoming needs a strong voice in Congress to lead the effort to undo the devastating policies of the last seven and a half years and restore our freedom. I will be that voice. I will be that leader," Cheney said Tuesday night.

For the daughter of a vice president, Cheney's rise to elected office hasn't exactly been smooth. Many Republicans felt she overstepped her bounds when, soon after moving to the state, she tried to challenge Wyoming's senior Sen. Michael B. Enzi in the 2014 GOP primary.

Her primary bid caused a spat between the Cheney family and former Wyoming Sen. Alan Simpson, a Cheney family friend who stuck with Enzi over the vice president's daughter. Cheney dropped that primary bid six months after launching it. 

[Liz Cheney Would Have to Overcome Hard Feelings for 2016 Run]

Simpson has been a strong Cheney supporter this year, and Republicans in the state say Cheney has acted on her political aspirations the right way this time by running for an open House seat and making her way around the state.  

There's still resentment toward her in the Cowboy State, though, with some Republicans painting her as a carpetbagger. But her high name recognition and her superior fundraising easily put her over the edge in this primary. 

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