U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney takes the oath of office with her father, former Vice President Dick Cheney looking on. (Office of Representative Liz Cheney)

Hailed as the marquee event of the 2022 midterm elections, the campaign of incumbent U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyoming) versus a field of challengers is already on track to be by far the most expensive in state history.

Cheney’s opponents are headed by Donald Trump’s hand-picked proxy, Cheyenne lawyer Harriet Hageman. The former president views Cheney as enemy No. 1. She is one of the few Republicans who defied him by voting for his impeachment and denouncing the violent attack on the Capitol that she says he provoked. 

By endeavoring to oust her, Trump is sending a message to others who might be inclined to follow her lead in trying to hasten the arrival of a party without the former president at its head. 

Cheyenne attorney Harriet Hageman. (Rhianna Gelhart/ Wyoming Tribune Eagle/Wyoming News Exchange)

Despite being stripped of her House leadership role and being slapped with a censure from her own state party, Cheney has not backed down an inch.

“A vote against me in this race, a vote for whomever Donald Trump has endorsed, is a vote for somebody who’s willing to put allegiance to Trump over allegiance to the Constitution,” she told Leslie Stahl in a 60 Minutes interview. “I think he [Trump] is very dangerous.” 

According to the most recent Federal Election Commission reports the candidates filed last week, three-term congresswoman Cheney has already raised $5,135,713 with more than a year to go before the 2022 general election. 

Trailing her in the fundraising race, according to the Oct. 15 quarterly reports, are Cheyenne State Sen. Anthony Bouchard ($613,428); Casper State Rep. Chuck Gray ($507,528); Hageman ($301,921) and Gillette retired Army officer Everett Denton Knapp Jr. ($19,600). Gray has suspended his candidacy while Bouchard and West Point grad Knapp are still in.

Hageman’s campaign, and fundraising, didn’t officially launch until September. Cheney and her other challengers have had many more months to amass their war chests.

Wyoming Sen. Anthony Bouchard (R-Cheyenne) speaks to protestors after a meeting of the Joint Committee on Labor, Health and Social Services in Casper on Sept. 16, 2021. (Nick Reynolds/WyoFile)

The critical target for all the candidates is the Aug. 16, 2022 Wyoming GOP primary in which the candidate with the highest tally wins the nomination and near-certain election in November. 

The previous record for a primary spending was $8.2 million in the 2018 governor’s race won by Mark Gordon. That race featured a host of wealthy candidates including the late GOP mega donor Foster Friess, who finished second, and Hageman, who finished third. 

This time around, the money-raising for Wyoming’s single congressional seat is just beginning, especially for Cheney and her former political ally Hageman

On Monday, former President George W. Bush hosted a high-profile fundraiser for Cheney in Dallas that could eventually bring millions more to her bulging coffers. The traditional Republican establishment, including figures like U.S. Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) and Bush who are alienated by the Trump form of populism, favors Cheney. The candidate received maximum $2,900 donations from Romney (R-Utah) and his wife. 

An invitation to a Dallas fundraising event for U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney featuring former President George W. Bush. (Twitter)

She could also see support of crossover Democrats who would rather vote for a Republican than see Trump reelected in 2024, according to election watchers. This could be a factor in the Aug. 16 GOP primary as Wyoming allows voters to change party affiliation at the polling place. 

After Cheney’s impeachment vote, former “Apprentice” reality TV host Trump personally interviewed a host of potential challengers, according to reports, eventually settling on Hageman, a lawyer known for her legal battles with environmental groups. Despite a late entry into the race, Hageman now claims to be raising more than $100,000 a week including maximum donations from major Trump supporters such as tech billionaire Peter Thiel, Dallas real estate mogul James Mabrey and Lynn Friess, widow of Foster Friess.

But the big bump in Hageman’s fortunes is likely to come from a super PAC, Wyoming Values PAC, set up by Trump strategists Andy Subarian and James Blair. That PAC has no limits on contributions, nor does it have to disclose its fundraising receipts until January.

On Monday, Hageman told WyoFile she is not intimidated by Cheney’s huge money lead.

“We know that Liz Cheney will have more money than she can spend, raised by Washington, D.C. and Northern Virginia special interests, establishment politicians and Democrats who find her to be a useful tool,” Hageman said.

Rone Tempest was a longtime national and foreign correspondent for the Los Angeles Times. In 2004 he was part of a team of reporters to win the Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the massive wildfires in Southern...

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  1. When I see the money being pumped into this race, I’m pretty sure we are all going to be sick of the relentless TV and radio advertising by the time the primary rolls around next summer. On the upside, just think of the financial windfall for all Wyoming radio/TV stations and newspapers.

    1. Great Point about the advertising. Radio will be key. Republicans know newspaper and TV are Democrat owned propaganda.

  2. She could also see support of crossover Democrats who would rather vote for a Republican than see Trump reelected in 2024, according to election watchers. This could be a factor in the Aug. 16 GOP primary as Wyoming allows voters to change party affiliation at the polling place.”

    Interesting that the corporate media claim this has never been a factor in previous WY Republican primaries, but Tempest alludes that it may be a factor in this race.

    At least the debates will be between formidable opponents for a change. Cheney may have large establishment coffers, and scores of her own PACs, but she doesn’t seem to care about her WY constituents enough to return to WY to address their concerns. This, despite the best efforts of Dems to interfere in the Republican primary, and all the corporate and establishment money, could be the real “factor”. Time will tell.

  3. Interesting that the soul of the Republican party seems to be coming down to this Wyoming race for one congressional seat.

    Excellent article. Thanks.

  4. Mark Harris had it right in his comments 100%. How long did Hageman work for Cheney ? How trying to get power will change how people think.

  5. Gee can someone explain the difference between “Washington, D.C. and Northern Virginia special interests” and Washington, D.C. and Washington, D.C. and Florida special interests? It is the height of hypocrisy for Ms. Hageman to insinuate that Rep. Cheney is sullied by outside special interest money when even Ms. Hageman’s decision to run had to wait for the outsider from Florida to approve her. Kind of a pot calling the kettle black thing, isn’t it?

  6. I often feel like everyone wants to categorize Wyoming voters into two groups. Trump supports and everyone else. THIS race has nothing to do with Trump for me, it has to do with who I believe will REALLY support and defend the US Constitution as our founding fathers intended it to be. Not how today’s politicians want to interpret it. Protect MY GOD given rights, MY freedom and MY liberty. SHOW me you intend to do that, and you are who I’ll vote for.

  7. Thank you for a balanced, informative article. This race will be watched. The spiritual battle for the conservative movement is what many are concerned with.