SUBLETTE COUNTY—Natalie Strong took a moment outside of the All American Fuel convenience store in Big Piney to think back on Jan. 6, 2021, the day a violent mob stormed the U.S. Capitol. 

Strong was a little embarrassed to say it, but she was drawing a blank. The working mother didn’t have much of an opinion about U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney, nor did she have much say about her congresswoman’s role as vice-chair of the congressional committee probing the insurrection that played out 1,700 miles away some 18 months prior. 

“I couldn’t even tell you what happened on Jan. 6,” Strong said. “I have so much going on in my life, I really just don’t follow the news. It’s not my thing.” 

Strong’s lacking interest in the events of Jan. 6, and the U.S. House committee’s examination of the attack, was widely shared among the 19 Wyoming voters that WyoFile spoke with this week in rural Sublette County — high-desert gas-field country that’s home to small communities like Bondurant, Hoback Ranches, Daniel, Marbleton and Pinedale. The majority of randomly selected interviewees — nearly 80% — have paid no attention to the hearings that some theorize could lead to the criminal prosecution of former President Donald Trump. The handful of residents who had tuned into or read about the committee were skeptical of its motives and legitimacy. 

Natalie Strong outside the All American Fuel convenience store in Big Piney on June 21, 2022. (Mike Koshmrl/WyoFile)

“They had to hire Hollywood,” Valerie Wheeler, a bartender at the Den, said between serving customers at the Daniel Junction restaurant. “I’m serious, I don’t believe a word that comes out of their mouths.” 

A dim view of Cheney, a belief that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump and a perception that the insurrection is being overblown to shine Cheney’s star on the national stage were commonplace in Sublette County, where the population has slipped since a natural gas boom in the early 2000s. If such sentiments are as widespread as many observers believe, they jeopardize the electability of Cheney, who sailed to victories in previous House races, but now faces a formidable opponent hand-picked by Trump: Cheyenne attorney Harriet Hageman. 

Early polling from Hageman-aligned groups suggests the challenger is well in the lead. But Cheney’s campaign and proponents have bet big on winning hearts and minds through the incumbent’s leadership role in the high-profile select committee hearings and the body’s revelations about the Capitol Building attack. That strategy, however, depends on Wyoming voters paying attention and not having made up their minds. 

The approach carries significant political risk. While the second-term congresswoman has occupied the national stage, interviewing witnesses and laying out a case against the popular-in-Wyoming former president, Hageman’s been riding the state’s conventional campaign circuit for months

“As you will see in great detail in our hearings, president Trump ignored the rulings of our nation’s courts, he ignored his own campaign leadership, his White House staff, many Republican state officials, he ignored the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security,” Cheney said in her opening remarks of the first hearing. “President Trump invested millions of dollars of campaign funds purposely spreading false information, running ads he knew were false and convincing millions of Americans that the election was corrupt and that he was the true president. As you will see, his misinformation campaign provoked the violence on Jan. 6.” 

The Jan. 6 committee has held five hearings since with more anticipated in July — reportedly pushed back because of the emergence of new evidence. They’ve captured attention nationally. But not Natalie Strong’s or most of her neighbors’ in Sublette County.

Potential to sway?

While it’s unclear how many Wyoming residents are watching the Jan. 6 hearings, those who are tuning in aren’t catching it on the Public Broadcasting Service. WyomingPBS has opted to keep its normally scheduled programming, which includes shows like “Curious George” and “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood.” Station manager Terry Dugas told the Washington Post his outfit is airing the hearings instead on Create, a digital Wyoming PBS subchannel, because of cursing that sometimes occurs during testimony. 

“We have a commitment to the parents in Wyoming to provide a ‘safe harbor’ on our main channel for their children during the day,” Dugas told the Post.

Nevertheless, the Jan. 6 hearings are accessible to anyone with a broadband internet connection: They’re broadcast live over YouTube and elsewhere. 

State Sen. Cale Case (R-Lander), who’s been named to Cheney’s leadership team, has tuned into at least parts of the first four hearings, and said he’s talked to a number of Wyoming voters who are “glued” to the hearings.  

“It’s a small group of people and maybe an odd group,” Case said. 

Case said there are facets of the Wyoming GOP, albeit not its leadership, who are pushing back on Trump’s disproven claims, and the widely held belief, that large-scale, systematic fraud swung the election in favor of Joe Biden. 

“I can’t change it,” Case said of Wyoming residents believing Trump’s lie. “I just know that if we let them say it over and over again, it does become true for a lot of people.” 

The long-serving lawmaker, who’s been censured by the Fremont County Republican Party for stances that depart from Wyoming Republican Party leadership, said that he’s “proud” of Cheney for combating the misinformation and co-chairing the committee. 

“There is right and wrong here,” Case said. “I’m going to see it through to the end. I’m staking my own reputation on it.” 

So is Cheney, along with her job. 

A sign promoting Liz Cheney’s congressional opponent, Harriet Hageman, overlooks the Green River. (Mike Koshmrl/WyoFile)

Former five-term U.S. Sen. and Cody resident Al Simpson, another member of Cheney’s leadership team, said he “doesn’t’ give a damn,” even if she were polling 80 percentage points behind. The important thing, he said, is that Cheney is in the right. 

“This is the worst thing that’s ever happened to America. This destroys democracy,” Simpson said of Trump’s attempts to overturn the election. “At some point in time, her words will go down in the books. At some point in time, [Trump] will be gone, and my Republican colleagues who are for him will be dishonored.” 

In the meantime, Simpson isn’t counting Cheney out. There’s still nearly two months to go until the Aug. 16 primary, and until then voters will learn more about Trump’s role inciting the Jan. 6 insurrection. That information  could change the equation for Cheney and her Trump-aligned challenger, he said. 

“People in Wyoming are open-minded and closed-mouthed,” Simpson said. 

Cheney spokesman Jeremy Adler declined an interview request for this story. So did the Hageman campaign. In an emailed statement, Adler said the committee expects to reveal many more facts that will provide a more complete picture of what happened leading up to Jan. 6 and on the day itself. 

Deep skepticism 

Some Wyoming voters and politicos have already written the Jan. 6 committee off. 

“There is clearly an agenda, and I say that because they’re not showing both sides,” Lincoln County Republican Party Chairwoman Marti Halverson said. “It’s so choreographed I don’t believe what I’m seeing.” 

Donald Trump, Jr. made stops in Jackson and Alpine in June to promote the candidacy of Harriet Hageman, who’s running against incumbent U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney in the Republican primary election Aug. 16. (Mike Koshmrl/WyoFile)

Halverson, a former state representative, caught up with WyoFile last week  at the Alpine Civic Center during a Donald Trump, Jr. visit to promote Hageman. A couple hundred Star Valley residents showed up on a Wednesday morning to attend, offering hearty applause in response to jabs directed at Cheney. 

“Harriet will carry Lincoln County for sure,” Halverson said, “but I’m not going to make any prediction as to by how much, because there are pockets of supporters of Representative Cheney.” 

Just north in Teton County, where Cheney owns a home, Republican Party Chairwoman Mary Martin is keeping a neutral stance in the primary battle: Unlike Halverson, she didn’t attend a Trump, Jr. event in Jackson the day prior. Among the Teton County GOP, there are two “very distinct camps,” she said. 

Some [party members] have been totally insulted with what [Liz Cheney] has said about the Republicans in the state of Wyoming, and others will tell you she’s the bravest person on the planet.”

Teton County Republican Party Chairwoman Mary Martin

“Some have been totally insulted with what she has said about the Republicans in the state of Wyoming,” Martin said, “and others will tell you she’s the bravest person on the planet.”

Teton County conservatives’ reception of the Jan. 6 committee hearings is also evenly split, she said: Some are intently watching, while others think it’s a “big propaganda advertisement” for Cheney’s political campaign.

The dichotomy is tilted more toward skepticism in Sublette County, where nearly 80% of voters cast ballots to reelect Trump-Pence in the 2020 election. 

Cora rancher Pat Noble in his pickup truck outside the Den Restaurant and Bar at Daniel Junction. (Mike Koshmrl/WyoFile)

From the parking lot outside the Den at Daniel Junction, Cora rancher Pat Noble took a moment to share his views. Noble isn’t one to watch TV — he finds it too one-sided — but has listened in on the committee hearings when he can over the radio. 

“I try to get a well-rounded [presentation] of an issue before I base an opinion,” Noble said, “but it’s kind of hard to find it.” 

As for the Jan. 6 events at the Capitol, Noble thought it was a “shame it went that far,” but he believes the insurrectionists’ cause was righteous and that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump. He doesn’t believe, from what he’s heard listening to the committee hearings, that they’re giving the former president a fair shake. 

“They’re so head-bent on trying to get Donald Trump pinned on it,” Noble said. “Why are you focusing on that when there’s so many things you can focus on?” 

Of the 19 Sublette County residents WyoFile spoke with, only one openly stated that Joe Biden is the rightful president of the United States. 

“I’m a professional myself, so I trust the professionals on what they have to say,” Pinedale resident Antolin Barraza said of the election results. “Whether the outcome was what I wanted or not, I’ll leave it up to them.” 

Antolin Barraza enjoys a cocktail at Wind River Brewing Company in Pinedale on June 21, 2022. (Mike Koshmrl/WyoFile)

Barraza, an engineer, voted for Trump. Like most of his fellow residents who agreed to talk, he was tuned out of the Jan. 6 committee hearings. In fact, he didn’t even know they were happening. 

“Almost irresponsibly, sometimes you don’t pay attention to some of these things,” Barraza said. “We’re too busy playing around in the mountains and living the life and enjoying what’s around us. We have that privilege.”

Correction: This story has been updated to correct where funding came from for U.S. House race polls. —Ed.

Mike Koshmrl

Mike Koshmrl reports from Jackson on state politics and Wyoming's natural resources. Prior to joining WyoFile, he spent nearly a decade covering the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem’s wild places and creatures...

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  1. Every president inherits the past administration mismanagement or in Trump’s case, a booming economy and a well managed 8 year administration, that allow him to bathe in its success and bragged about it, but in short 4 years it was the larger transfer of money at tax payer expense, with the inability to track who and how much they got as the records are conceal! Increased the national debt and undermine a pandemic, what we are experiencing is the repercussions of his doings and the shitty oil industry that is taking advantage of the situation, by the way the owners are Republicans, And what Trump try to do to remain in power is LOW! Undermining the core of this country, its Freedom and Democracy, take those 2 away and you will become a slave of the 1%, I don’t know about you, but I didn’t born to be one!

  2. My father was a combat wounded vet of WW2 and I served in the USAF during Vietnam. Apparently there are far to many people in Wyoming that dont care about the values he and millions of others fought and died for. Liz Cheney is a brave woman but sadly that takes second place to Trump worship.

    1. No Chaney served in military. She could of enlisted as well but didn’t. Biden Harris Pelosi Schiff Schumer neither Clinton Rice. Obama McConnell AOC. Feinstein and long long list never served either

  3. 1/6/21,,,,a government of the people, for the people, by the people,,,,how often are we reminded of this, constitutionally, maybe it went a little too far, for both “sides”, but when the government is reminded that It is The Peoples Government,,,,the Polititians really dont like being reminded of the fact, big G or Little g. And we are seeing proof of it.

  4. If the Wyoming vote was rigged, why did Trump carry Wyoming? I am so sick of hearing from the bunch who worship Mr Trump. This is the United States of AMERICA not United States of Trump. The man did some things that needed done while in office, but he was voted out, get over it! Pull up your big guy pants and get with the program of trying to improve America.

  5. I disagree with Al Simpson’s statement that “people in Wyoming are open minded and closed-mouthed.” While that is correct for some, many people in our state are decidedly closed minded, cut off from reality, impervious to any information that does not comport with their pre-existing beliefs. The statements of various people in this article prove it.

  6. Chaney should form GOP committe to investigate the open border at Mexico. Far more deaths and destruction there on Biden/Harris hands then ever happened on 1-6

  7. I am flabbergasted there is so much apathy in Sublette County about the January 6th hearings! January 6th was one of the biggest threats to our democracy in decades. This is embarrassing for Sublette County. Hopefully residents of other Wyoming counties are not equally apathetic? Wow!

    1. Earl you are wrong on your opinion. The greatest threat to USA is events that lead up to 1-6. That is the threat. A coup did take place with faulty voting system and no forensic examination of system took place. Plenty of evidence out there. Just never heard in any court. Then to hold these people as political prisoners! That is Russia China Iran n Korea tactics. Not USA.

  8. Kudos to WyoFile on printing one!!!!!
    I think the most comments ever. But, very frightening, at least to this reader.
    A lot of high temperature finger pointing at THE OTHER.
    My facetious suggestion is that we all go in front of a mirror and point our finger at that SOB staring at us. Then go and try and have a nice day!
    Thanks Mike Koshmrl for coming down here to hear what at least a few of us think.

  9. Let’s face it, Cheney is interested in Cheney, how much of her life has actually been lived in the state? Has she ever worked for a business inside of the state? Phooey on smooth talking points, let’s have someone who works at a job inside fo the state and knows it. I believe she was living in the east near DC when she decided to run, and returned at least for the run back here.

    1. If you care about integrity, progress and competency she is the best option… BE REAL! For clowns at the circus, the cover will cost you about $14 Dollars, you will have a good laugh and is not going to temper with your future.

  10. Voters won’t be fooled. Cheney is courting Democrats in her mailers to crossover and vote for her, and just voted for Democrat gun control. Democrats here love and endorse her over the singular issue of trying to prevent Trump from running in 2024. She’s clearly more aligned with Democrats and losing conservatives daily.

  11. Apparently, a hell of a lot of people in Wyoming never had a civics class in high school. So when a tyrant tries to overthrow the democratic government we have lived in for so long, they dont notice or dont care. Hope that Wyoming can ever be a place where people can see these dangers right under their nose is dwindling. Ms. Cheney is doing a wonderful job for her country, and for you others in Wyoming who have yet to figure that out.

    1. If committe was to be fair/impartial then investigate what lead up to cause the 1-6 demonstration. Investigate the dominion voting machines. A forensic investigation was needed. Investigate the Zuckerburg voter manipulation he funded. How about the ballot harvesting? Go to the root cause of 1-6. Wisconsin Michigan Arizonia Georgia had more then enough voter irregularities. Chaney will lose seat as GOP she will then run in her home state of Virginia as Democrat. She is not about to give up her gravy Train of life.

      1. There was no voter fraud on the scale you want. It doesn’t matter how many times you repeat it, it will not make it true.

        It’s ridiculous that chrump lemmings continue to believe unproven lies and nonsense conspiracy theories.

        1. Mr. Davis. You can’t honestly say that. Not until Dominion machines are forenisically audited and looked at. Wisconsin alone had 100,000 dead voters vote democrat. Problem is they all or majority had same b day. 1-1-1918! The evidence is there in Georgia as well. Just because Court would not look at evidence. Doesn’t mean it not there. Also all I said. Let’s look at EVERYTHING. NOW THEN HOW ABOUT AOC CALLING FOR INSURECTION OVER THE SUPREME COURT RULING? Elected person calling for violence? Shummer him self threatened the SCOTUS! Chuck that is a crime in its self. Your wrong in your opinion chuck

  12. LIZ CHENEY VOTED FOR RED FLAG LAWS IN WYOMING. THIS MEANS ANTI-GUN BIDEN HAS MILLIONS OF DOLLARS TO CONFISCATE WEAPONS FROM ANY CITIZEN.
    LIZ CHENEY VOTED TO ALLOW WYOMING GUN OWNERS TO SURRENDER THEIR HUNTING RIFLES. THE RED FLAG ORDER ALLOWS STORM TROOPER ATTACKS ON OUR HOMES.
    UINTA COUNTY DEMOCRAT JUDGE GREER HAS ALREADY CONFISCATED HUNDREDS OF FIREARMS. NO WARRENTS JUST RAID HOMES AND TAKE THIER OLD MDL, WINCHESTER OR NEW .44 S&W.
    THIS RED FLAG LAW AND MILLIONS OF TAX PAYER DOLLARS WILL END OUR OWNERSHIP OF PRIVATELY OWNED FIREARMS.

    1. “*WyoFile does not fact check every comment but, when noticed, submissions containing clear misinformation, demonstrably false statements of fact or links to sites trafficking in such will not be posted.”

      Think this meets the misinformation criteria?

  13. It is difficult to see all the hatred on both sides and what that hatred is doing to our country. It would be nice to return to the days when news, like in Wyo File, simply is what happened without brainwashing us in how we should think. I like to feel that I’m capable of reading and analyzing for myself. It’s kind of hard to believe anything that comes out of Washington or the media now. I appreciate the format that lets us read what people in our state think.

  14. Bottom line for Cheney is she flipped off a majority of the voters in Wyoming. Voting to impeach Trump for alleged wrong doings is one thing that could be argued to be principled. But agreeing to be on a Nancy Pelosi committee, that many Wyomingites feel, is little more than a dog and pony show kangaroo court, is taking it 500 steps too far. She has now turned herself into an advertisement for the Democrat National Committee, and is now complicit in seeking to get Democrats elected. In doing so, Cheney decided to represent herself and her father, who both hate Trump. Trouble is she wasn’t elected to represent herself. Her task moving forward is to seek to gain broad based support from Democrats willing to cross over for the upcoming primary. She sure as heck isn’t going to win majority support from her own party. The one she actually claims to be a member of. Let’s see if she can pull it off.

  15. So sad that so many do not understand why they are able to have what they have. Understand that a Constitutional government and nation of laws has protected the U.S. from foreign aggressors, and stabilized the geopolitical landscape, and fostered a stable economy. Sad they do not understand that the nation is sliding into authoritarianism simply because people are lazy, poorly educated, self indulgent, and believe that their ignorance is just as valid as others knowledge.

  16. Because we live in America we have enjoyed the freedom to chose (within the law) how we live. If we decide to allow a few people to make decisions for us there is a risk that one day we will no longer have that freedom. Your voice may not be heard and the information you get could very well be censured. Every citizen should vote to preserve that rights. I applaud the entire committee and it’s finding that’s elected officials doing their job defending our constitution.

  17. A wonderful example of the disdain the establishment media and establishment politicians have for Wyoming voters who dare to oppose the establishment.

  18. If you don’t listen to the evidence, you are not an informed voter, so you shouldn’t be voting.

  19. Please don’t say “especially in Pinedale.” Not everyone in Sublette County can be painted with the same brush. My respect for Sen. Al Simpson is renewed yet again by his comment – “People in Wyoming are open-minded and closed-mouthed.” Wish we had more like him!

  20. There’s only one party interested in maintaining some semblance of a representative democracy. A few individuals from the other party still have some shreds of integrity and belief in (and actual knowledge of!) the Constitution, but only a very few. Repeat lies often enough and too many start to believe them as truth. This country is at a very dangerous tipping point. Makes one wonder, “Is crime still illegal in this country?” I guess some want to hear all about the other side of that issue…

  21. It is pretty clear that the populace has less reverence or understanding of the Constitution or how our government works. Wyoming has also been bathed in right wing ideas for years through the mouth of Rush Limbaugh and Fox News. If the populace keeps hearing lies, they will believe them, especially in Pinedale.

    Putting a man over the Constitution means the end of our Republic and republicans are the ones cheering it on.

    Believing in a stolen election when they are performed at the county level by professionals and volunteers that know the value of accepting a non violent way to decide the people that will represent the Constitution is ludicrous. Especially in today’s society when there is far more oversight and mass communications. Its clear our forebearers cared about the Constitution while today’s electorate thinks we elect a king every 4 years.

    I find it interesting Wyoming PBS is not showing the hearings due to concerns over strong language…..WOW….If Hageman wins the primary, it will be the moment the USA lost its form of government and the people will have voted for it. Sad.

      1. Eye opening in how ridiculous the claims are? Your 2000 mules “documentary ” has been shown to be lies and half truths.

        Get out of the echo chamber you currently reside in, and you might be a bit more critical of the nonsense that is spoon fed to you.

  22. Thats the way it is in Wyoming. Thats how the orange menace was elected president in the first place.

  23. I can’t believe people who say they “aren’t showing both sides”. What other side is there? Most the testimony is Trump appointees, Trump staff or elected Republican officials from across the country! These where the people evolved, these were the people who could have stolen the election for Trump if they didn’t have any ethics, these are HIS people testifying about how there was no evidence to his claims or for them to do what he was asking them to do! McCarthy CHOSE not to have more Republicans on the committee and the Senate Republicans CHOSE to block any investigation at all! So the “other side” CHOSE not to show up because there is no other side because there was no stolen election!

  24. The hearings demonstrate that Donald Trump was desperate to do anything to keep on being President. If logic prevails, Liz Cheney will retain her seat in the U.S. House of Represetnatives.

  25. Simply sad that so many chose not to be informed about the insurrection of the Capitol and listen to the nearly exclusive Republican insiders testimony. I wonder if ardent Trump supporters really understand what change they are encouraging for our country – a possible autocratic government. Not one nation under God; but one nation under a narcissistic demigod.

  26. Ron White: “You can’t fix stupid”. I love Wyoming. It’s my home. But I’ve had it with narrow minded brainwashed politics and voters in Wyoming. The GOP chairman is a Proudboy and has corrupted the party. He wouldn’t be allowed in the door in any other state due to his past record as a cop in Worland.

  27. Go Liz Cheney! I guess the people of Wyo. will never change. They seem to never loose they’re greed and hubris.
    Cheney is a hero and most of the state doesn’t even know it!

  28. Another typical Wyofile piece. You say “Cheney, who sailed to victory in previous House races”…oh really? Here’s an inconvenient fact for you…if it weren’t for our messed up voting system with no primary runoff Cheney probably would have lost. Why do I say that? Because she won with only 40% of the vote. That means a whopping 60% voted for someone else! Cheney is no different than Adam Schiff and so many other politicians. They are liars, corrupt and have a serious case of Trump Derangement Syndrome. Cheney is now openly courting Wyoming Democrats to cross-over in the primary to vote for her. Yep that’s the other messed up part of our voting system the RINOS won’t change in Wyoming. Because they also can win without getting a majority vote. So Cheney now courts and promotes what is basically cheating and gaming a broken election system. How “ethical” of her! And of course the Dems are falling in line! How ethical of them! Draining the cesspool of corruption in this Country is the only thing that will truly save us.

    No election fraud? If that was true, Joe Biden who rarely left his basement to campaign and Cheney who doesn’t campaign in Wyoming but prefers to conduct her clown show of J6 hearings would know they could never truly win an election that way. So just like Biden who may have gotten 81 million ballots but most likely NOT 81 million votes, Cheney is probably hoping a broken election system open to cheating will get her another term, I pray every day it won’t happen. We will know in a couple months.

    1. The cess pool of this country is Trump. How many of his “very good people” have been indicted? Why did he meet Putin with nary a person to report the conversation? The list of atrocious behavior and likely crimes by Trump is almost endless. His political career is a sad commentary on our nation.

    2. ‘2000 Mules’ documentary explains it all…..if you can find it. Liberals don’t want it seen, so keep taking it down!

      1. Please point to a single documented instance of fraud in “2000 Mules”–I’ve seen it, not hard to find–and there is not a shred of evidence of fraud.

    3. Please explain how voting for any candidate you are eligible to choose, regardless of party affiliation is “cheating and gaming…”

    4. You are so right in every aspect of your comment. I get very tired of the left wing comments supporting Cheney. They continue to believe she supports the Constitution but has done nothing for the people arrested on trespass charges and jailed for over a year without a trial. Due process and speedy/fair trials are a bedrock belief in our Republic. She doesn’t care. The left wing politicians and news media also conveniently forget an actual insurrection by the left wing mobs while Trump was in office. They burned a church across from the White House and Stormed the White House injuring many Secret Service agents
      Crickets on this, but horror on January 6. Selective horror doesn’t become Cheney or the left. They obviously don’t know a real insurrection when they see it, OR is it all just politics cause they hate Trump. My fervent hope is that Cheney will lose dramatically.

      1. NO one, left or right has “stormed the White House” since the British in the War of 1812. Get your facts straight!

    5. Amen. Remember her home is on the east coast close to DC and she returned to Wyoming to run for congress. Her Dad’s name was almost a guarantee.

  29. I can’t imagine sailing your ship into congress from the lies of the biggest windbag the country has ever seen.