A year ago today Rep. Trey Sherwood (D-Laramie) drove to Cheyenne for her swearing in as a member of Wyoming’s Legislature. What would have felt like an momentous event for the freshman lawmaker, she said, was overshadowed by the attack on the U.S. Capitol that occurred the day before, on Jan. 6, 2021. 

“It felt very heavy,” she said. 

In the year since, Sherwood has only started to process the insurrection. It’s been challenging to do so, she said, while so many questions remain about the day itself and what it will mean for our democracy.  

The events of that day impacted a nation. But in Wyoming, the influence has been outsized. That stems from the actions of the state’s sole member of the U.S. House of Representatives, Liz Cheney (R-Wyoming). As Cheney has forged a lonely path as an unsparing GOP critic of former President Donald Trump, her stance has prompted both praise and outrage. 

After Trump targeted Cheney as a political enemy for refusing to parrot lies about the validity of the election and then voting to impeach him, the state party censured her, many Republicans denounced her and a rift opened up in the GOP as challengers lined up to unseat her in the 2022 primary. The political divide has both defined politics on the local level and drawn the eyes of the nation to Wyoming. 

Cheney’s role as vice chairwoman of the House select committee investigating Jan. 6 has been described as a betrayal by many in the Republican party. Though in Wyoming she has many constituents that stand by the former president — he carried nearly 70% of votes here in 2020 — she herself stands by her assertion that Trump’s actions threatened the U.S. Constitution. 

During an interview this week with ABC, Cheney said the Republican Party has a choice to make. 

“We can either be loyal to our Constitution or loyal to Donald Trump, but we cannot be both,” she said. Cheney did not agree to a WyoFile interview request by press time.  

‘Betraying Wyoming’

While he didn’t go as far as to enter the congressional race, as some of his legislative peers have, Rep. John Bear (R-Gillette) has been a public critic of the congresswoman since her impeachment vote. The freshman lawmaker wrote an op-ed in September accusing Cheney of “betraying Wyoming” by opposing Trump. Bear was once a “big Cheney supporter,” he said, but her foreign affairs policies have also dissuaded him. 

Bear is joined in his critique by House Republicans in Washington that ousted Cheney from her leadership post because of her impeachment vote. Additionally, the Wyoming GOP voted in February to censure Cheney, and then in November to no longer recognize her as a member of the party. Had it not been for Cheney taking such a strident stance, Bear said, Jan. 6 might not have taken center stage in Wyoming politics. 

U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney(R-Wyoming). (U.S. Congress)

“Otherwise, I don’t think that there would be a great deal of interest in what’s currently going on in the investigation,” Bear said. “Because Liz Cheney made a big issue of it … it is something of interest for the next election, and especially the primary and mostly in regards to her.”

Despite participating in the discourse around Cheney, Bear said he would have preferred Wyoming residents to focus on other, more local issues. 

“I think that energy needs to be turned toward both what’s happening in Cheyenne, and what’s happening in our own counties,” he said. As one example, Bear pointed to legislation designed to shift Wyoming’s elections to a runoff system. Lawmakers have proposed the measure several times

Even that is tangential to Cheney, however. 

Though the idea cropped up following the 2018 gubernatorial race when Gov. Mark Gordon won the Republican primary with less than the majority of the votes, conservative advocates have recently expressed hope that it prevents vote splitting and ensures Cheney’s defeat. 

On its website, the Wyoming Republican Party said a runoff system would “help combat vote dilution in the primaries,” and that “Democrats should not be voting in the GOP Primary.” 

Rep. Trey Sherwood (D- Laramie) attends a remembrance ceremony Jan. 6, 2022 in Laramie on the anniversary of the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection. (Mike Vanata/WyoFile) Credit: Mike Vanata/WyoFile

‘So admirable’

For all the lumps she’s taken from her party, Cheney has inspired others, including Sherwood. 

“It’s so admirable, and it’s so brave, and it’s so honest,” Sherwood said. The anniversary is an important opportunity to talk about where Wyoming citizens can find civility in local politics, she said. At Laramie’s remembrance ceremony Thursday night, 20 or so people gathered in the wind and frigid temperatures, bundled up tightly in heavy jackets. 

As for Cheney, the congresswoman spent the morning of the anniversary on the floor of the House of Representatives. She was joined by her father, former Vice President and House member Dick Cheney. There was a prayer, a pledge and then a moment of silence. 

No other Republicans were present. 

Maggie Mullen

Maggie Mullen reports on state government and politics. Before joining WyoFile in 2022, she spent five years at Wyoming Public Radio.

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  1. I’m a (probably)forever Democrat who admires and thanks Liz Cheney for her honesty.
    Only her kind will insure that our Democracy will live on, and though she is quite conservative I would prefer her over many Democrats for President.

  2. Changed my political affiliation about a month ago. Since I was 18 years old (1994) my vote has never mattered. It’s a good feeling that I can participate in a meaningful way. I choose Liz.

  3. Liz Chaney stood for the constitution not the Party of one. Always will be a republican but without the democratic rule of law the United States wouldn’t exist. Thanks Liz. You have never lied to us and fought for Wyoming values always.

  4. Reading this article and the majority of the comments has been sobering. I have revised my opinion about the need to fund better mental health programs in this state. Cuz… DAMN!!!! Utterly clueless. No way of handling what is coming.
    No understanding of current events. No understanding of history.
    No self-awareness. This is arrested development meets Idiocracy.
    No amount of education can help you if you can’t tell when you are being lied to.
    You must learn to read people, and you need to educate yourself.
    Please take the time to explore Youtube and other video sites for videos of scholars talking about what is going on in the world. There are some valid comments here but they are the outliers. Reach for better understanding and turn off the TV! We will be making choices this year that will be very important.

  5. The so called “runoff” is just a game of gotcha under my thumb. The Republican Party is terrified that voters might actually understand their manipulation.

    Ranked choice voting would provide options that would frustrate the GOP system of false choices. Results of rigging the system are everywhere if one bothers to look.

    The beast is adroit at simply misdirecting attention. Such is the essence of “magic.”

  6. Like it or not, Dick Cheney was the Republican Vice President from Wyoming
    and you’d think that Wyoming’s Republican senators would recognize that and show him the courtesy of their presence to welcome him.

  7. She said” There has never been a greater betrayal by a president of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution.” Liz Cheney is to be accorded some respect for following her conscience and not the party line. I never liked her politics or foreign policy but, dammit, the woman has some balls.

  8. I truly wonder what Cheney and the liberals that are commenting on January 6th would say about the insurrection(?) When Trump was inaugurated. It was much more violent and destructive.

    1. Absolutely false.

      I would ask you to cite your source, but we all know you have nothing credible.

      Your chrump worshipping has made you leave reality.

        1. Thank You Jeni and Dennis for speaking TRUTH to CORRUPTION. Democrats are not the only ones who seek power for power’s sake, but they have taken evil to their bosoms and have no regard for humanity. The TV watching simple-minded opinions of some people are no longer stunning to me. They would be comedy if not for the fact that our country is swirling the toilet under this lawless administration and you have supposedly educated people who have no grasp of current events. Keep up the good fight!

  9. I was not a Liz Chenney fan before the insurrection. She now has my full support. She has more backbone than the entire Wyoming State Legislature and all of her colleagues in the US House. Country before party and Constitution over cult.

  10. The bad blood between Cheny and Trump goes back to Trump calling her old man a war criminal, (thems fighting words in Wyoming), which I tend to agree with. Dick Cheny was the architect of the Iraq Invasion. Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with the US being attacked on 9/11, no weapons of mass destruction were ever found ( The Big Lie), and was of no threat to the national security of the United States. (When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, did FDR ask for a declaration of war on Argentina?) The Bush-Cheney invasion of Iraq didn’t make us any safer, but resulted in thousands of US casualties, hundreds of thousand of Iraqis dying, and an insurgency and civil war that raged for years. (The son of a good friend of mine came back after two tours in Iraq, and committed suicide at age 31. Thanks Dick.)

    The Bush-Cheney regime presided over the disastrous Iraq invasion and the worst financial crisis and economy since the Great Depression, and yet now they are darlings of the left because they oppose Trump. Short memories or political expediency? Take your pick.

  11. The statement, that Cheney betrayed Wyoming by being disloyal to Trump says it all. Her oath is to the constitution, not a person. Every election challenge has proven nothing but a fair election. Even the Cyber Ninjss in Arizona could not find evidence of fraud. Rep. Cheney simply states her loyalty to her oath which calls for a peaceful transfer of power. That so many prefer loyalty to a man rather than the foundation of a nation is of great concern to a person from Jewish grandparents. Having studied the history of fascism in Germany; I recall the oath forced on the Weirmacht. It was to Hitler the person and not the nation. Loyalty to a political person over the laws of the nation is the true slippery slope.

  12. I am 100% in support of Liz Cheney. She is the only Republican who is brave enough to publicly stand for the Constitution and our democracy and denounce the former president who is set on being a dictator and ruler of a kingdom rather than leader of a free and forceful democracy where everyone has a vote that needs to be lawfully counted and recognized as valid.

  13. When he was in Congress I worked closely with then-Rep. Richard Cheney on several issues, particularly the Wyoming Wilderness Act of 1984. There were many issues on which we disagreed, but he was always civil and very smart. The WyWA is far from my hopes, but he worked hard and it is Law. I thank him.

    Now, Liz has taken up the challenge of preserving democracy in America. As President Biden said on the 6th, “You cannot love your country only when you win. You cannot obey the law only when it’s convenient. You cannot be patriotic when you embrace and enable lies.”

    Democracy’s guarantee is not always very good rulers, but a peaceful method to expel and replace bad rulers. The USA’s ability to maintain that guarantee is under challenge now. President Biden, like Lincoln at Gettysburg, put this in a global context on 6Jan22. The glove is thrown. Liz is on the side of History and the basic principles of our Nation.

    I predict that Wyoming voters will rally behind her. I hope so.
    

  14. While I don’t support many of Liz Cheney’s political positions, I admire her ethics in supporting her oath of office and standing firmly in defense of our Democracy and our Constitution. I have to wonder on what grounds the Wyoming Republicans stand that they show so much vitriol towards her. So far I’ve heard no valid argument for their positions.

  15. I respect Ms Cheney for standing by her oath to support and defend the constitution! She has my support! This is what I expect from my Republican Party.

  16. If you happened to tune in to the many commerorations and events on the anniversary of January 6 , in Washington DC – Congress and elsewhere , one visage really stands out.
    The US House was in session. They had scheduled a time for a commemoration in the Chamber. Nearly all the Democrats were in attendance. On the starboard side of the aisle where there should have been up to 193 Republicans seated, there were but two . Only two Republicans bothered to show up on January 6 , 2022. Both were named Cheney . Liz Cheney and her dad Dick Cheney, the latter having lifetime House visitation privileges.
    Dick Cheney told he media how disappointed he is in the Republican eladership these days. It is only the first week of the new year but THAT might be the Understatement of the Year.

  17. What should we call the events of Jan. 6, 2021?:
    – “an attack on the United States of America”. Is there a shred of doubt that would be our universal description had the attackers been foreign? Is there any doubt we would have immediately pulled out all the stops to forcefully punish everyone involved, directly or indirectly?
    – “an attempted coup”. That’s what we call it in any other country when the supporters of a leader voted out of office refuse to accept the results. Right? And isn’t that exactly what happened here? A bunch of folks concluded the way in which we have selected our President for the last 230 years – let everyone vote and the most votes wins – got to the wrong result. They dishonestly salve their consciences with fantasy about a “stolen election” to avoid the harsh, but inescapable, truth of what they have really concluded, which is, “democracy didn’t work” – that when the selection of President was left to a majority vote of the governed, they screwed it up.

    Those supporting the attempted coup should at least be honest about what it was.

    Liz Cheney is a profile in courage.

  18. If a little more than a year ago anyone would have suggested that I would ever praise Liz Cheney, I would have heartedly laughed. However, Liz has shown herself to be Wyoming’s only federally elected official with any integrity. For that, I applaud her! It’s shockingly sad that so few members of the Grand Old Party opted for sticking up for the US Constitution in favor of the BIG LIE. The current Republican Party–the Party of Lincoln–is unrecognizable. Liz and a very few of her colleagues are the conscience of the Party and its only hope for salvation.

  19. I am a lifelong Democrat and I was disappointed when Cheney became our Representative. I don’t agree with a lot of her policies but right now I couldn’t be more proud of her. Think she and Adam from Illinois are the only honest Republicans in the country. The rest are in a cult. Lincoln must be turning over I. His grave.

  20. When Liz Cheney moved to Wyoming and established residency so as to enter state politics, she applied for a resident Wyoming fishing license before the required residency period. That was a pretty small lie compared to the “Big Lie” she is now in the process of exposing! Come on, Wyoming; wake up! This country really is in a crisis that is more than a simple political divide. It has become an existential problem that must be honestly faced in order to preserve our democracy. It would be refreshing to see our two senators show the same Wyoming guts as Ms. Cheney.

  21. With all due respect, the tag line “Cheney’s refusal to parrot lies about a stolen election and denouncement of Trump’s role in the Capitol insurrection spurred a censure and efforts to unseat her.” is a personal opinion, not fact. It certainly does not reflect what I’d hoped to find in a publication that claims to have “no agenda”. In many conversations with folks on both sides of the Cheney issue, not one of her detractors I spoke with would agree with this assessment as the reason they would not vote for her again.
    It’s pretty obvious from the comments on this and other articles that wyofile is the home and voice of Wyoming’s lonely liberals. At least embrace your bias.

    1. Sorry Stan-everything in the headline is factual. Im not sure where you are getting the idea that it is an opinion. Trump did what he did to instigate the insurrection in real time on television. Rep. Cheney has in fact refused the “Big Lie”, the state GOP censured Rep. Cheney, and there is definitely an effort to unseat her backed by Trump himself. If acknowledging the truth based on facts makes those of us who read WyoFile or follow the facts about pretty much anything else liberal, then its pretty sad that anyone else would want to be on the other side of that. Facts are facts and should not be tethered to political agendas.

    2. ““Cheney’s refusal to parrot lies about a stolen election and denouncement of Trump’s role in the Capitol insurrection spurred a censure and efforts to unseat her.” is a personal opinion, not fact.” Really Mr. Hughes? Please supply evidence to the contrary.

    3. Greetings Stan Hughes.
      Please share what Cheney’s detractors you spoke with say is the reason or reasons why they will not vote for her again.

    4. Stan Hughes:. With all due respect, any claim that the 2020 Presidential election was stolen is just one of a pack of lies. Read up on the result of “investigation” of the election that was recently completed in Arizona. The entire charade has no purpose other than to eliminate the American public’s confidence in the democratic process, so that the Republicans can steal future elections with their baseless claims. And for refusing to support these lies, Cheney has been censured, has been subject efforts to unseat her, and worse, by the Wyoming Republican Party. This is a fact, not an opinion.

    5. How is “refuses to parrot lies” an opinion? It’s a lie. This is a fact. She refuses to take part in the lie. This too, is a fact. You might not like the facts but they are facts.

    6. Stan, exactly why did the Wyoming GOP act to censure Liz Cheney? And why are Republicans in Wyoming going to vote for her adversary? Facts, not opinions.

    7. i agree completely. At least admit your bias and stop trying to advertise as a non bias news co.

  22. Well written. Bear and the Wyoming Republicans are supporting the Big Lie, dis-informing Wyoming citizens as they do so. I hate seeing my fellow Wyomingites being duped by snake oil. I would think it would be responsible reporting to note that when Bear says the investigation is NOT a big issue, it means that he is ok with a violent effort to overthrow a legitimate election. Jan. 6 is a big issue for anyone who cares about upholding democratic elections and upholding the rule of law. Bear’s perspective–that Jan. 6 is Not a big deal–is snake oil, and he’s playing to a cult of personality. It is so un-Wyoming to me. It is so embarrassing that elected Republican officials voice conspiracy theories and are rewarded for it. How can journalists provide evidence-based reporting that does not diminish the amount of lying and deception perpetrated in our state? We are in a dangerous political arena right now, especially since the state is virtually a one-party state. As Yale historian Timothy Snyder notes–Beware the one-party state. Journalists hold an important duty not only to interview Bear, but also to identify what is false and inconsistent with the rule of law in what he says. God speed in finding the way to “treat words kindly” as Snyder urges us, which means using the right words carefully to describe the truth.

  23. Wake up Wyoming Republican Party, Liz is right in the stand she has taken regarding the God awful term of the former President. Find Candidates for Our National offices to serve the people, not the ego of themselves.

  24. When the current events become history Liz Cheney will be on the right side. The stolen election lies, I say lies until any proof is offered as to how the election was stolen, and the insurrection will become the most serious events in our democracy. McCarthyism had that honor of spreading lies and disinformation, though bad did not do the damage that are seeing today.

  25. You shouldn’t keep referring to the Jan. 6th day as “insurrection”. Look it up. It doesn’t apply.

    1. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary an insurrection is: an act or instance of revolting against civil authority or an established government – most other definitions also include a “violent uprising against an authority or government”
      Sounds pretty spot on for January 6th!

    2. M.R. Brown, if not “insurrection”, what would you have called the events of January 6 if the perpetrators had been Black? I would have called it a bloodbath, as the police would have gunned down the mob without hesitation.

  26. Republicans before 2017 wasted lots of energy whining about President Obama “tromping all over the Constitution.” Is it not ironic that nowadays the Constitution is dirt under their feet? If being a Republican is judged only by fealty to a reality show host that was impeached twice, lost the house and senate, lost re election, invited thousands of riled up supporters to the national Capitol for a riot based on the big lie, then urged them to fight like hell which resulted in a violent attempt to interfere with the peaceful transfer of power, the GOP has certainly lost all respectability. Does this even cross the minds of Republican Congress persons and candidates?

  27. This years primary will be closely watched. It’s not often that you see a politician defy the wishes of 75% of their constituents, and do it in a flamboyant, in your face manner. One thing the article got exactly correct is that Cheney does inspire Democrats. Be interesting to see how many cross over in the primary to vote for her.

    1. We certainly hear a lot from the republicans that are blindly loyal to the Trump cult, but I have yet to see a credible poll showing that Liz Cheney is defying the wishes of 75% of her constituents. Besides, she represents all the citizens of Wyoming, not just the ones who voted for her.

    2. I would agree with Michael – just because 75% of Wyoming voted Trump, that doesn’t mean that same number don’t support Cheney. I think it’s funny how people forget Trump lost the Wyoming primary and “his guy” lost to Gordon in the Governors race. I don’t think the Wyoming Republican party is as homogeneous as you think, but it’s clear that one sect is certainly louder than the rest!

    3. I’m not a Democrat, I crossed over on the 5th of January to register as a Republican. Filled out the form easily, you can do it in any town hall with the town clerk. I’ve seen enough and listened enough to know Wyoming elections are truly closed within the parties’ leadership. Therefore I’m independent, maybe you might want to reconsider there are 27% of us independent voters in Wyoming’s population. The only way we can vote is to register. I chose Liz Cheney for integrity to that Oath of Office and this Country. I don’t see that today from your fellow Republican in State and two others within the Senate. At least I have the satisfaction to case one vote that cancels a vote for Trump’s chosen Candidate, that’s satisfaction enough towards the reasons for me to join or raid your party primary.

  28. I think Liz was so right in standing up to Trump. Standing up for the constitution is what we elect our legislators for.It worries me how we are so divided in this country. I am so disappointed what Trump has done to this country.

  29. I find it very concerning that the base that is the Republican Party does not understand the Constitution or what went on January 6th. Trump was clearly trying to incite a coup by using his gullible supporters (Republican Base) to storm the Capital and overthrow the will of the American Electorate. The base believes that the most secure election in American history was rigged when there is absolutely no evidence or any truth to the Big Lie as it is known.

    Trump was clearly attempting to upset the peaceful transfer of power and if that had occurred, which was close to happening on January 6th, then the USA would have never had another legitimate election for President. I asked those that support Trump What would the next election look like had Trump succeeded in the Coup?

    It is appalling that any citizen that claims to be a patriot and supporter of the Constitution would allow their love of one lying man to overthrow our Republic? How can any so-called American Citizen justify his lies? I cannot understand still calling oneself a Republican or an American Citizen if they side with Donald Trump over our Constitution?

    The DOJ is legitimately prosecuting those that participated in this horrific assault on our Constitution and these Americans are pleading to crimes where they admit they were Domestic Terrorists attempting to subvert the will of the American People. If Wyoming Republicans are taking the side of terrorists, then they are admitting they are no longer good citizens or supporters of our Constitution. It is really that simple and while I despise the policies of Dick and Liz Cheney, it is clear they understand the need to believe in our Constitution and defy those that would resort to violence to install Donald Trump as a Dictator.

    1. I called both our senators and asked if they were enjoying the anniversary of the insurrection that they helped to incite. Also asked if they had any further plans to destroy democracy and to write me back. The Repugnicans are scared to death of the base they’ve created. Dr. Frankenstein (and all the rest of us) may yet be killed by his monster…