Rep. Liz Cheney talks to Uinta County Herald reporter Kayne Pyatt Feb. 5, 2022 during the Wyoming Press Association convention at the Ramkota Hotel in Casper. (Katie Klingsporn/WyoFile)

The Wyoming Republican Party’s formal decision to turn against U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney raises the option for her to run as a Republican in the general election. This would be a rare opportunity to show the state the benefits of an open primary system like we have in 21 other states, and what it could do for Wyoming’s political and economic health.

Opinion

A year ago, the Wyoming Republican Party took the unusual step of censuring Cheney, and in early February the Republican National Committee took similar action. Now, the Legislature is taking action in an attempt to further hamper Cheney’s chances in the Wyoming primary by making it harder for voters to change party affiliation on election day. Former President Donald Trump has endorsed the measure, Senate File 97 – Change in party affiliation.

The state GOP is not simply putting its thumb on the scale, it is stepping on it. But the party’s position gives Cheney all the justification she needs to shift the contest to the general election.

I welcome such a move. For years I’ve opposed Wyoming’s primary system, where the 43% of voters who do not identify as Republican are effectively disenfranchised from participating in how they are represented. It has led to an increasingly insular political culture, where a handful of party elites decide what is best for the state, and then use the party apparatus to get what they want. That hardly looks like what the Founding Fathers had in mind.

Cheney has a chance to show the state what an open primary system looks like, by challenging Harriet Hageman to a contest where they both make their case to the whole state. And while Hageman probably won’t like it, she would have a hard time arguing that she doesn’t want to face the judgment of all Wyoming’s voters. If Hageman complains, Cheney merely needs to ask, “What are you afraid of?”

Furthermore, there is nothing Hageman can do to stop it. All Cheney needs is a $200 filing fee and 4,025 signatures. She won’t need to change her political beliefs and can still identify as Republican. She can stand behind her conservative rating of 96% (the same as Wyoming’s U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis, and eight points higher than Sen. John Barrasso) and her record of voting with President Trump 93% of the time (which is four points higher than Barrasso’s). 

I understand that moving the contest to the general election would have a strategic advantage to Cheney, although that’s not why I favor such a move. Cheney will likely have an easier time winning votes from the 43% of Wyoming who identify as Democrat or independent than those who vote in the Republican primary. Furthermore, Republicans who do vote in the general election are 15% more moderate than their primary counterparts, according to information from the firm Catalyst.

Cheney would also benefit from the state’s 33,000 college and university students, who vote more moderate than Republican primary voters. Disbursed throughout the state during the summer primary, they are hard to reach, hard to energize and frequently not living in the precinct where they are registered to vote. But by November, those same students are concentrated on campus, where get-out-the-vote efforts, establishing on-campus precincts and employing traditional activation efforts are easier.

Of course, in so doing Cheney would upset the GOP and some Republican voters. But those people are not going to vote for her anyway. Their wrath comes at no cost. Meanwhile, voters would get a taste of how an open primary might work in Wyoming.

The GOP has overplayed its hand this year, showing many Wyomingites that our current system is no longer healthy for Wyoming. Today the state’s Republican Party acts more like the politburo than a political party.

The effect has been a narrowing of ideology and a viciousness to how Wyoming candidates vie for public office.  I’d like to believe that the bulk of Wyoming is tired of the nastiness that has become normal in our state politics — when candidates never face the judgment of the whole state and are free to turn their backs to nearly half of Wyoming. But this vanishes if Cheney challenges Hageman to a statewide race. 

To win, each would need to appeal to all Wyoming families: Republicans, Democrats and unaffiliated alike. That feels like a refreshing change.

If Cheney and Hageman are required to make their case to the entire state, the Wyoming GOP elites will hate it because the power shifts to the voters. But to me, that looks a lot more like democracy.

Dave Dodson

David Dodson is a resident of Wyoming and an entrepreneur who has helped create over 20,000 private sector jobs. He is on the faculty of the Stanford Graduate School of Business where he teaches courses...

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  1. What’s the issue here, hasn’t Liz Cheney had enough disdain from Republican leadership? Do you actually want a candidate that has virtually 0% chance of winning the Presidency? Oh, now I get it!

  2. If democrats want to vote in a “conservative”, even a hated one that’s fine. Personally I don’t think Cheney has any principles and she’s likely to completely change her positions on everything and turn into a democrat once she’s elected anyway. Then the republicans can FINALLY be done with her

  3. Does the writer even live in Wyoming. My grandfather, Vernon Delgado, was a major fundraiser in Wyoming and 99% of Republicans dont like her. Funny enough her father Dick Cheney was an aid when and would get him coffee when he was the chairman of state Board of education in the late 60’s.

    Liz Chenny is to focused on the past. 90% of Republicans in Wyoming see the Capital protest as nothing more than a riot. Especially in comparison of the damage the black lives matters protest did.

  4. Is this fool even from Wyoming. My grandpa was a major fundraiser for the Republican party Vernon Delgado. Every Republican that has standing in the party hates her. She’s focused on the past and not the future. 99% of Wyoming voters believe that it was nothing more than a riot at the Capitol. Far less severe than the black lives matters riots that we saw.

  5. Liz Cheney has the right to run as a Republican from Wyoming on her own,and I hope she does. Let the real Wyoming voters, not the “political machine” decide whether she wins or loses. That is the TRUE American way!

    1. Liz Cheney wasn’t even born in Wyoming she was a transplant 6th grade. She needs to go back to Madison Wisconsin and run.

  6. liz cheney needs to leave wyoming and stay with the swamp people she agrees with.
    you don’t need to be in wyoming.!
    you don’t represent us !

  7. I Don’t do censorship. Rino Cheney needs to go home. She ran with the hare but hunted with the hound

  8. Ideologically speaking, I don’t believe that there is another political creature on this planet with whom I have disagreed with more or more often than I have disagreed with Ms. Cheney (and that list also includies her father). That said, I will also go on record saying: The girl has got some guts– Integrity –Tenacity –and this fall she will have my unwavering support at the polls.

  9. Maybe I’m missing something, but I see a blind spot in Mr. Dodson’s thesis: If Liz runs in the general, the 43% of Wyo Dems will vote for the Dem candidate, realizing that Liz v Harriet will split the R vote and provide a rare opportunity to take the seat, which Wyo and National Dems will enthusiastically pursue.

    A more likely scenario: Liz runs in primary and loses, then announces she is running for President, using Wyoming’s right wingnut Trump fascination as the foil. Wyoming had the highest percentage of Trump voters in the nation and the Wyoming Republican Party Chair is an Oathkeeper.

    1. Agreed! Like a lot of them she has served her country and needs to ‘return to the plough’ It was never intended to become a profession and is more like a mission. Come run, serve and go home!Term Limits is the key to managing such dreadful corruption.

  10. Great point and opinion thanks Dave. I think it is time to place a nail into this outside reasoning on closed primaries. I hope the Wyoming House defeats the reasoning for this bill now before their floor. I will gladly sign the petition, for I have already switched to the Republican party, in protest to this bill, along with not having to right to vote for any candidate within an open primary our Constitution states open election Article 1 Section 27.

  11. Mr. Dodson has a great idea. I have been trying to picture what will happen when Cheney wins the primary with her current lack of support from the Wyo GOP. If she is the candidate, how will Wyo GOP party provide support to the candidate chosen by the voters but not endorsed by the Wyo GOP leadership who also declared her ‘not Republican’? I predict an open primary would energize Wyoming voters and bring us to a new atmosphere of cooperation and compromise for the good of ALL of Wyoming people.

  12. The problem Cheney faces is she wasn’t born in Wyoming, didn’t grow up in Wyoming, didn’t graduate from high school in Wyoming, didn’t graduate from college in Wyoming, and until just before running for office, didn’t live in Wyoming. When she did move to Wyoming, she moved to Jackson, which is arguably, the least Republican part of Wyoming. A problem not unfamiliar to Mr. Dodson. Because of all this, some feel she is no more Wyoming than Nancy Pelosi.

    Wyoming voters chose to overlook those facts as long as they felt she was representing conservative Wyoming voters and values. But when she went after President Trump against the express wishes of a majority of her voters, she once again demonstrated that she represent interests and opinions that aren’t shared by a majority of Wyoming conservatives.

    She and many Democrats have tried to portray her votes as “courageous” and “patriotic.” Her problem is many Wyoming voters view it more as betrayal and a vote for the Washington D.C. “swamp.” She is raising lots of money, but how much of it is coming from the people whom she claims to represent?

    If she does win the primary, I think the Democrats have a real shot of winning her seat. Principally because so many conservatives would refuse to support her election, and just not vote at all.

    1. I’ve seen no evidence that her vote to impeach Trump went “against the express wishes of a majority of her voters”. And having voted 93% of them time with Trump and the GOP and don’t see how this “once again demonstrated that she represent interests and opinions that aren’t shared by a majority of Wyoming conservatives”.
      I also can’t believe how many people forget that Trump only got 7.2% of the vote in the Wyoming presidential primary in 2016. And, Trump backed Foster Friesse lost to Gordon in 2018. The pro-Trump, anti-Cheney tribe might be the loudest, but I think we need to see what the voters have to say.

  13. I think this would be a great idea and hope she does it. I don’t like her politics and never did but really, we need to show the Repubs in the nation and Wyoming that we can make up our own minds on who to vote for. I hate this bill they are trying to pass about cross over voting.

  14. First and foremost, you are assuming that Hageman is THE Republican candidate into the General election. We are an independent state and until May there are others who will be filing for the primary election. Trump’s endorsement does not make Hageman a shoo-in….. I have serious concerns for Hageman and will be watching actions and past history of others who may be filing.

  15. I’ll wait and see, what is discussed on 60 minutes, Sunday, I do believe we need to get an other, person running, besides these 2, I would not vote for either, Thought there was a Smith running, but it is early, let these 2 spend,Spend.

  16. Given Liz Cheney’s strong Republican credentials and her conservative voting record that is consistent with the views of most Wyoming Republicans, it might be a difficult move for her to make. She is a fighter and has the courage of her convictions. Yet, another Republican woman who made a bold move similar to what Dave Dawson is suggesting is Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski who, after losing the 2010 Republican primary to the Tea Party candidate, ran as a write-in candidate and defeated both the Republican and Democrat candidates in the general election. Murkowski was elected to a third term in 2016, running as a Republican. To run as a write-in is certainly a bigger lift than paying $200 and getting 4,025 signatures in order to give all voters, Republicans, Democrats and independents, an opportunity to vote for Cheney. So, if the crossover bill passes, I suggest she give serious consideration to bypassing the GOP Primary and, instead, running in the General Election.

  17. After the Bush – Cheney administration, I pledged I would never vote for another Republican. Than the Devil threw the orange fascist among us! I will be supporting Liz in the 2022 election.
    Any and all trump supporting politicians need to be flushed from public service!

  18. I couldn’t agree more with this viewpoint. It gives the general population an opportunity to weigh in on both issues and candidates. It is a much more democratic approach, and the voters will be able to better choose who they feel is the best candidate rather than have a political party choose for them.

  19. Liz is going to rick-roll Hageman and her small band of Trump/Chimp crossbreeds this November. Harriet is just going to be a bad memory in our rearview mirrors. “NO” Harriet, it is NOT your turn and will “NEVER” be. And afterwards, don’t go away mad, just go “AWAY”

  20. I’m all in in trying to break the kookiness of the modern day Republican Party that has fallen to the conspiratorial theories
    of Robert Welch and the John Birch Society. I never thought I would see it happen but it did.

  21. It is a given that the people who support Cheney will seek any way to cheat the majority out of a fair election. If they could harvest ballots and drop them off in the hundreds the way they did in the pivotal states in 2020 they would surely do so. I lived in California. The elections there are a travesty. Fake. Fake. Fake. Our house seat was stolen by a crook who had signs made that looked homemade. But, being a leftist, his paid crew mass produced the signs and they all looked exactly the same. They were put up early at every major intersection and left up well after the election. So a small group of paid people made them, and were not paid to take them down until we the people said something about the litter. Even so, the election was not won until well AFTER the real people were done voting and the truckload of harvested ballots magically appeared. Just enough to change the results. Always the way THEY do things. Half-hazard and unethical. But it gives the dead and undocumented their say, in my opinion. Stanford. That says enough. The goal is to make this election a travesty. The decent people in this state will not back down. Cheney needs to move her political machine to a coastal state where lies are the norm. Thanks to Wyofile for giving the majority a window into the true nature of leftist political scamming. Here we go again.

    1. 2020 called and it wants it “stolen” election nonsense back…it wasn’t true then, and it’s not true now.

  22. “I understand that moving the contest to the general election would have a strategic advantage to Cheney, although that’s not why I favor such a move.” Why would the vast majority of Wyoming voters who have already twice rejected this elitist coastal globalist (who still maintains his mega-mansion in California) subscribe to this attempt to undermine the will of the people and the election process that will likely reject Cheney?

    1. Dave. Why is it that Liz’s voting record of 93% with Trump is a good thing? Please explain to me how 4 years of Trump was a good thing.

  23. I agree with you Dave. I think it would be extraordinary for Congresswoman Liz Cheney proceed as your propose. She, and her family, particularly her mother Lynne, understand that the election belongs to the people. Together, we understand the imperative Madison implored us to guard against in Federalist 10 and avoid the concentration of power in a two-faction system.

    Lee Drutman wrote in Breaking the Two-Party Doom Loop:

    “American democracy is at an impasse. After years of zero-sum partisan trench warfare, our political institutions are deteriorating. Our norms are collapsing. Democrats and Republicans no longer merely argue; they cut off contact with each other. In short, the two-party system is breaking our democracy, and driving us all crazy.”

    Senate File 97 — with its explicit purpose of banning cross-over voting — is terrible for Wyoming citizens and thus our Constitutional order. With crossover voting, the candidate chosen has the greatest support among Wyoming citizens. It appears, however, that those behind Senate File 97 do not want that. Liz can avoid that political swamp by filing for ballot access and gathering her signatures, which ought to be simple enough.

    It appears that those in power and voting for Senate File 97 hold a cynical, non-trusting view of their constituents. I take the cynical view of these politicians.

    Senate File 97 was introduced, in my estimation, with the sole purpose of stopping Wyoming voters of all spots and stripes from signaling their approval of Congresswoman Liz Cheney for her commitment to Wyoming and the Untied States, to our Constitutions and to the Rule of Law. Hence, former President Trump’s involvement in Wyoming’s own business.

    Senate File 97, if passed into law, would ensure even less Wyomingites choose the candidate for their respective Party in the Primary. This would further entrench the two-party duopolistic doom loop and force the voters to chose the lesser of two evils rather than the candidate that best represents them and all of Wyoming.The last thing we want to do is bring the swamp home. Senate File 97 promises just that.

    If primaries are to remain, they must remain open to all, and voters must have the maximal latitude in choosing powerfully the candidate that they believe represents them. Anything else infringes on the citizen’s rights, liberties, and privileges.

    For these reason and more, I oppose Senate File 97 and support Liz taking an alternative, yet more direct, route to understanding the will of the people.

    I am on that same path.

    Casey William Hardison
    
Grand Coalition Party
    Candidate for US House of Representatives
    Wyoming-at-Large OO

  24. Hageman is a want-to-be and thinks it’s “her turn” in Washington. In reality, it’s only a very vocal minority clamoring for this table-turning woman who did the ole’ fashioned flip-flop.

    Come election time, Mr. Hageman, Liz Cheney will SQUASH you and your minority Trumpanzee Nation, which will have them retreating back into their holes. Ya’ll will be just a bad memory