Representative Liz Cheney (R-WY) during a House Republican Leadership press conference, at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, April 14, 2021. (Graeme Sloan/Sipa USA)(Sipa via AP Images)

Within minutes of Wednesday’s vote to oust Wyoming Congresswoman Liz Cheney from her House Republican Conference leadership position, a handful of her Republican colleagues, including Adam Kinzinger of Illinois and Ken Buck of Colorado — released statements supportive of Cheney.

Others, like disgraced New York Republican Congressman Tom Reed, expressed dismay over the vote and what it stood for. Namely, the party’s unwavering loyalty to Trump, and general concern of the direction of the Republican Party, which demoted Cheney for her criticisms of former President Donald Trump regarding the Jan. 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol and Trump’s false allegations the election was stolen.

Many of those in Wyoming loyal to Trump, including her opponents in the 2022 election, reveled in her removal and touted their ongoing support of the former president, who is now considered by many to be the de facto leader of the Republican Party. 

Others here saw Cheney’s ouster as a reflection of similar party dynamics  in her home state, where many long-time members of the Wyoming Republican Party no longer feel they have a place in the populist movement Trump had inspired.

“Add me to the people who believe the GOP has become the party of TRUMP only,” State Rep. Landon Brown, a Cheyenne Republican, wrote on social media. “This is dangerous, and makes me and many other[s] disenfranchised with the party itself.”

Brown, a leading voice in conservative education reform efforts in Wyoming, has found himself at odds with the populist right in Wyoming for years. Some have labeled him a Republican in Name Only, or “RINO,” for his support of Medicaid expansion and unwillingness to vote for legislation prohibiting sanctuary cities. The Wyoming GOP has also denied him financial support, he said, because he didn’t fully agree with the state party’s platform.

House Education Committee member Rep. Landon Brown (R-Cheyenne) listens to testimony during a meeting March 5, 2021, inside the state Capitol. (Michael Cummo/Wyoming Tribune Eagle/Wyoming News Exchange)

Brown sees similarities in the events surrounding Cheney.

“I was denied funding because I did not learn to equivocally support the party platform,” Brown said. “And from that point forward, I made a commitment that I was going to stand up for what I believe in and what my constituents believe in. Not just what the party believes in. And that’s exactly what Liz Cheney is doing, and has been doing.”

Like Brown, Cheney — who voted with the former president more than 90% of the time during his time in office — represents a minority within the modern GOP. A YouGov/Economist poll released this week showed Cheney’s favorables among conservative voters at about 18% nationally. Another poll from several weeks ago showed about 44% of Republicans to be more loyal to Trump than the GOP. Numerous polls over the last several months have also suggested most Republican voters, if not believing the election was stolen, believe there were rampant irregularities, despite a lack of evidence.

That fissure in the party, some feel, could hurt Republicans’ chances to win again. 

“…the way of Donald J. Trump is ignorance, fear, greed, tribalism and hate, and supporting him is a recipe for disaster for the Republican Party and, ultimately, the United States,” said Peter Nicolaysen, former state committeeman for the Natrona County Republican Party.“We need to immediately shift to a real Republican with the qualifications as well as the quality to lead the Party, and Liz Cheney fits the bill.”

Marginalized moderates

With a sizable coalition loyal to Trump, some wonder if there is still an opportunity for politicians like Cheney in the modern GOP. 

If Republicans want to win back their majority, Cheney said in a press call with Wyoming reporters Thursday, that opportunity will be essential. That effort begins, she said, with Republican leadership standing up for the truth of what happened in 2020 and in the lead up to the Jan. 6 Capitol riots.

“We’ve seen conspiracy theories, we’ve seen people be misled, we’ve seen the current president push things that are not true,” Cheney said. “And I think it’s really incumbent on those of us who are elected officials, those of us who are in leadership positions, not just to sort of put our finger up and see which way the wind is blowing, but to take upon ourselves the responsibility to convey the truth and to explain to people what really happened. I think that’s leadership and I think that’s representation.”

Kyle Gamroth, a city councilman from Casper, considers himself as one of those seeking a return to civility in politics. At 32, Gamroth is currently one of the youngest members of council as well as the Natrona County Republican Party. While he supports many conservative policies, he dislikes Trump and, on the campaign trail last year, sought to avoid partisanship in favor of issues affecting Casper. In a four-way race, he was elected with 34% of the vote.

Kyle Gamroth. (City of Casper)

Gamroth said the policies of the state Republican Party — in particular an opposition to same-sex marriage — are incompatable with the views of many young people. Things like that have prevented the party from effectively engaging people in his demographic, he said. Nationally, the Trump vision of the party has also failed to resound with his generation, he noted: According to polling data, Trump’s weakest demographic was with voters aged 18-29. 

“I’ve been reluctant [to engage with the party] the entire time, but the past year especially,” Gamroth said. “The Republican Party that I would support, that I would proudly stand behind, that I believe would be a catalyst for change, is not a party based on the values, behavior and language of people like Trump. That’s the absolute opposite direction I feel the party should go.”

But with Trump’s grip on the party, some believe the rift in the GOP resembles  a “purge” of those whose ideology puts them at odds with those in leadership. 

Mark Christensen, a Gillette native and a former Campbell County Commissioner, is one of those individuals. The longest-serving commissioner on the board before his resignation last year, Christensen — who calls himself a “Reagan Republican” — was part of a group that helped build tens of millions of dollars in reserves, launch investment in carbon capture initiatives, and helped set the county on a sustainable fiscal path amid a downturn in coal revenues. 

In the lead up to the 2020 election season, however, Christensen said Campbell County took a sharp right turn. In the county commissioner’s race that year, two of his opponents ran on platforms heavy on abortion restrictions and gun rights. After floating a half-penny sales-tax increase he received death threats, he said. After his opponents dug up a restraining order his former wife filed against him, he said, he resigned with one year left in his term. (That restraining order was later thrown out by a judge in Colorado.)

Christensen is concerned the Republican Party as a whole is facing a similar shift, he said. He worries that many of his former constituents remained fiercely loyal to Trump — a man who never visited Wyoming during his presidency or campaign —- over Cheney, who he said he had worked closely with as a commissioner and who had helped deliver significant results for Campbell County. 

“I think there will be a reckoning in the party,” Christensen said. “I don’t know when it’s gonna be. But I would like to see it happen before [the next election], because I think Representative Cheney is exceptional. But I don’t know.”

Efforts to reclaim the party

There have been efforts by some, both at the state level and nationally, to reclaim the party, or at least reclaim a seat at the table. 

In Wyoming, activists have established political action committees to counter thousands of dollars in funding that have poured into the coffers of populist Republican candidates. Activists in some communities have sought to reclaim civility in the state’s political landscape through fundraising and candidate recruitment efforts. At the national level, a coalition of 150 Republican officials — including several former governors and members of Congress — have signed their own pledge to do the same.  

“I think that what we’re seeing at home is not dissimilar from some of the battles that we’re seeing nationally,” Cheney said Thursday. “I think for us in Wyoming, we’ve always been very committed to the Constitution, and very committed to everything that’s necessary to defend our rights and defend our freedom. And I think you do have somewhat of a battle underway. There’s no question about that.”

Facing re-election in 2022, Cheney believes a majority of Wyoming voters will ultimately vote for the individual they feel best represents their values, she said. 

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“It’s the beginning of a process,” she told reporters Thursday, one she plans to spend the next 15 months putting into motion. 

Gamroth thinks the party’s future depends on that happening, he said 

“Rebranding and redefining the party is what I believe is absolutely necessary,” Gamroth said. “In local Republican politics, I am the token millennial. I’m usually, by-far, the youngest person in the room and because of that, I’ve been asked to help recruit young Republicans. And the first question I have is whether Republicans are willing to change. There’s nothing attractive to young people about the party right now, so if the party is unwilling to change, then I don’t believe there is hope that you can recruit the next generation of Republicans.”

CLARIFICATION: This story has been updated to note the restraining order against Mark Christensen was thrown out by a Colorado judge. -ED.

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  1. As a Washingtonian fly fisher living within spitting distance of the great blue ribbon Yakima River, I undertake a hallowed annual fishing trip to Wyoming rivers where the sky blankets cerulean blue-like what is reminiscent of Heaven (to which I have yet to journey. or spit.) When I read the article concerning the “fall of Liz Cheney,” I thought the title was incongruous with the pioneering courage exhibited by her. It seemed to me her decision embodied true grit, although as a mere visitor to your state when it comes to true grit must admit I know little. Perhaps I have seen true grit portrayed in a movie or two but neither of those were anything more than a celluloid or digitized fantasy from Hollywood (the Duke not withstanding.)

    I ponder the words “:fall of Liz Cheney.” For some reason I immediately think of the common phrase “fall from Grace.” Why? i do not know. Just looking over the field to the East I see a fence post that has been there some fifty years and I reckon if I took a plumb bob to it on all sides it would hang true as the day it was posted. It is not falling over. Not even tilted. If that post is going to fail and fall it, will be because some outside force pushes it or rams it or tries to run over it.

    Seems to me Cheney did not “fall” from anything. She didn’t; quit. Didn’t run out. Didn’t drop out. Didn’t flinch one inch. Didn’t cater to the crowd nor her cronies. Seems to me she didn’t fall from anything. And politically speaking she didn’t fall from grace.

    Seems to me she will be elevated to Sainthood. And that is one helluva lot to say about a politician.

    Seems to me the river is calling.
    Time to spit..

  2. Well said Clover and Nelson.
    Parties aside Cheney’s strength should be welcome to all.
    Honesty and Integrity went out the window with Trump, all a bunch of spineless politicians afraid to speak your mind and heart.
    Don’t give up Gamroth, your strength for the youth in this state is paramount to removal of the old spineless likes of Barrasso

  3. … and just like that , HALF of Wyoming’s considerable clout in the halls of Congress vanishes in a puff of hot red smoke.

    Next year during the crucial mid-term elections, we get to watch Republicans run against each other instead of taking on Joe Biden’s contingent. The hue and cry will be ” Who’s more Trumpier ” ***

    *** unless Trump is in a 24/7 orange jumpsuit by then.

  4. This is an excellent article, Mr. Reynolds. All politics at all levels see various officials and the two parties struggling with various degrees of success or sincerity to understand where “things stand.”

    To say that confusion reigns is an understatement as we witness the aftermath of a stolen election, dishonest efforts to obscure that theft, a flat out assassination of Ashli Babbitt by a Capitol Police officer (whose identity is being studiously concealed), a dishonest, disgraceful DOJ persecution of the people who gained entry to the Capitol by overwhelmingly peaceful means (to include invitation by officers) when all those who engaged last year in actual riot, arson, looting, vandalism, battery, and murder are seemingly invisible to that same DOJ and state “responsible” authorities, a cowardly Supreme Court hiding behind a technicality of “standing” at a moment of constitutional crisis, utter nonsense about other courts “considering” election challenges and ruling on the merits against this crazy notion of election theft, and utterly fatuous attempts to make Trump’s invitation to the crowd of his supporters on the Mall to “peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard” into “incitement” to “insurrection” (it is to laugh). Give me a break, as the saying goes.

    Passing mention should be made after this litany of errors of the rather odd fact that Kamala Harris, the putative vice president of the U.S., is not, shall we say, constitutionally eligible to occupy and such office being what is known in polite company as someone who is other than a natural born citizen. If any election official or political candidate made mention of this rather amazing fact, I most certainly missed it. Anyway, there his nobody sits as the VP so help me and in yet another way our Constitution is simply ignored.

    These are the kinds of things that are well known to a great many people whose eyes are wide open to the state of things lo these many decades. If you want to get an idea of how badly just the Republican Party has failed in its duty to Americans, please read this article by Tal Bachman at American Greatness . The title’s a trifle blunt so I’ll merely post the link to the article here: https://amgreatness.com/2021/05/14/the-republican-party-sucks/

    If you want to know why the natives are restless these days and how little the thinking of establishment/RINO/neocon/Bushist empty suiters resonates with anyone vaguely to the right of AOC, this is the article for you.

    What seems most important to bear in mind these days is Trump didn’t so much as find his base as that his base, Joe and Joanne Blow, found him. He did a good job of gauging which way the wind was blowing and sensing the feeebleness of his opponents. But we went for him because the Established Order is so pathetic. Look at the lunatic spending, monetary debasement, wide open border, adulation of foreigners, pointless, reckless foreign military adventures, and sick obsession with the ultra fake idea that Russia is hell bent on undermining “our democracy” and grabbing Switzerland. Trump had not a few failures in his time as president but he was, above all, someone who just never would be invited to the parties and fundraisers of the established order. He was an outsider!

    So Trump, the Tea Party, and grand souls like Marjorie Taylor Greene, Lori Loomer, Tulsi Gabbard, Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Ron Desantis, or example, will gradually make the point that the so-called political class has utterly failed in its duty to safeguard the nation and look out for the welfare of the people. Any Wyoming politicians who want to try to weather this odd time by looking down their nose at Trump are welcome to do so but according to my analysis that dog won’t hunt.

    1. Give me a break..

      There was no “steal”
      There was no “fraud”
      Chrump lost

      Please live in reality

    2. “Passing mention should be made after this litany of errors of the rather odd fact that Kamala Harris, the putative vice president of the U.S., is not, shall we say, constitutionally eligible to occupy and such office being what is known in polite company as someone who is other than a natural born citizen.”

      Can’t you be original? Even slightly? What you said is so off-the-wall, not to mention off-base, that it’s funny. Seems like I remember similar absurd assertions not that many years ago. Try being original. I know that is a difficult to impossible feat for a conservative, but just try.

  5. The whole story is pretty amusing, watching from the peanut gallery. Trump’s power is lost, gone, lost forever. He most likely will not run for any office ever again. He will not risk losing again and surely he will if he takes that chance. Liz Cheney is playing the smart hand in a game where her opponents are relying of huffing and bluffing.

  6. I love the idea that Neocons (Bush Republicans), and Reagan Republicans who catered to the 1% and happily ignored a large majority of the working class, are the party’s saviours. It certainly worked in the past but is that the agenda going forward? Good luck with that. The party’s voters had enough of the establishment’s old ways and went for Trump to give the establishment the middle finger. Clean the swamp (not that Trump could or actually would).

    Keep in mind that the republican party pulled in more new Latino and new African American voters during the last election than the democratic party who were more concerned with pronouns than issues facing the majority of minorities.

    Growing the party’s base with African Americans and Latinos (Latinx if you’re a politically correct white liberal) is the future of the party. The future isn’t Neocons “reclaiming”, “rebranding” and “redefining” the party. It isn’t Reagan Republicans with their outdated playbook. The future is a more disciplined, more intelligent, more likable version of a populist agenda.

    Republicans would still control congress if the populist agenda was pushed by anyone other than Trump.

  7. I don’t like Trump’s posts either but I have looked past that and I have seen what he did for us Americans. Cheney cannot put the hatred of her family against Trump behind her and concentrate on the job she was elected to do. Maybe, just maybe, if Congress would do their job and we could see results as we did with Trump, they would have more positive support. What if Congress decided to protect our border……and founded a wall or decide to lower taxes instead of giving themselves raises???? Looking at America today and comparing it to 2019, 2020- have you noted the difference. How many people have invaded our southern border instead of following the law? Taxes are going up. Pipelines shutdown with unemployment rising. ETC.

  8. As one who wants to retire from the Sodom and Gomorrah of CA to Sheridan, I find the the immoral and unpatriotic backbone of some WY Republicans despicable. 50 years of placating radical Democratics created San Francisco. Protect WY or become CA!

  9. Jeff Wallack Sheridan
    I do not understand how an article can be published that is clearly one-sided? What happened to journalism practice and the training that both sides are inverviewed and quoted and all facts are verified?

    1. Agree 100%. Have been considering a move to Wyoming, but now, I am going to think long and hard about it.

      1. Terrific if this article stopped a leftist from soiling the great state of Wyoming.

    2. One sided? How so?

      The article spoke with Republicans who are disenfranchised with the GOP and the direction that it has gone and continues to go.

      Its unfortunate that chrump fan boys can’t separate truth from fiction. If a republican disagrees with the orange disgrace, then they are called RINO’s. If an honest article is published about the failures of chrump, then it is considered biased. Even Fox news can’t escape the wrath of the chrump zombies anymore.

      When will honesty be considered of value again?

    3. While I agree that this is clearly a hit job on Trump, and his agenda, I wonder if people would complain if a story better represented their viewpoint and not another?

      I am betting that those who deny bias would not be informed by a more “balanced” story. Nor would those who hate Trump but will agree that this is a one-sided story.

      Personally, I like a mix of stories from all viewpoints. They can be balanced or not.

      Even if balanced or unbalanced, that doesn’t mean it is informative.

  10. The situation with Liz Cheney is little more than the “Law of the harvest.” She decided that loyalty to her father, the former V.P. and his reputation was more important than loyalty to the folks that elected her.

    It’s no secret that Rep. Cheney has strongly objected to Pres. Trump’s criticism of the wars begun–and still ongoing–under the Bush/Cheney administration. As such, she has looked for every opportunity get back at Trump. The impeachment vote after he left office, and this weeks statements on harming Trumps political future are just the most recent examples. Her statements that her vote during impeachment was a “vote of conscience” lacks merit to anyone who has paid attention to their ongoing feud the past few years.

    To me it appears that the voters of Wyoming see Rep. Cheney as putting personal vendetta’s ahead of the desires of a majority of her constituents. Further, if there really is a “swamp” in Washington, they see her as part of it. As such, they no longer have confidence she will represent them, and they want her gone. The question is, will they still feel the same during the next election cycle?

    1. “Cheney… decided that loyalty to her father, the former V.P. and his reputation was more important than loyalty to the folks that elected her.”

      This statement, repeated by many in the GOP echo chamber lately, is utterly false.

      People who try to deflect attention away from the massive threat represented by Trump and his sycophants by resorting to baseless claims like the one above are not honoring their oath to protect and preserve the Constitution – an oath that applies to ALL true Americans whether or not we’ve publicly sworn it.

      Cheney’s very straightforward concern is: “her fellow Republicans… abandoning the rule of law and undermining American democracy…. Cheney, said the former president posed an unprecedented ‘threat’ to America with his repeated false claims that last year’s election was stolen.
      ‘Our duty is clear. Every one of us who has sworn the oath must act to prevent the unraveling of our democracy… Remaining silent, and ignoring the lie, emboldens the liar…. I will not participate in that, I will not sit back and watch in silence while others lead our party down a path that abandons the rule of law and joins the former president’s crusade to undermine our democracy.’ ”

      For True Americans, this is where the focus should stay. Not on mostly irrelevant, soon to be over wars on the other side of the world.

    2. People seem to forget that Liz Cheney represents all the people in Wyoming, not just the ones who voted for her.

      I have yet to see a credible source which shows that a majority of the 70% of voters who elected her would vote against her in a primary, especially given the procession of clowns lining up to run against her.

      Take into account that many Democrats will cross over to vote against the likes of a Gray or Bouchard and that adds up to Cheney winning the primary and cruising to re-election.

  11. I will never understand how so many “parotitic” Americans went from democracy loving to authoritarian demanding to the point of giving up personal freedom they claim to want by demanding loyalty to ANYONE (let alone Trump). This is not a nation of kings or false idols and we have fought wars to keep it from being one.