TETON COUNTY—The way former Donald Trump-appointee Rob Wallace sees it, U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney scored a victory on Tuesday night. 

That’s one way of interpreting the congresswoman’s resounding loss in the Republican primary election this week, said the Teton Village resident, who was picked by the former president to oversee the National Park Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at the U.S. Department of the Interior. 

“Liz Cheney won and so did Harriet Hageman,” Wallace said, “to the degree that Liz is now free to follow her unfettered passion for tracking down the consequences of Jan. 6.”

“Look at her national profile: It’s sky high,” he added. “There’s a lot of interest in what she’s going to do next, and she now doesn’t have to worry about all the stuff she should worry about if she’s representing Wyoming.” 

Wallace was among the Cheney supporters gathered north of Jackson at the Mead Ranch on Tuesday night, when election results were rolling in. Moments after it became clear the congresswoman’s time in office was running short, Cheney told friends, family, donors and media gathered near a cattle pasture that she “easily” could have won another term. All it would take, she said, was going along with former President Trump’s lie about the 2020 election, which would have provided the once-popular politician and Wilson resident with a clear path to reelection. 

“It would have required that I enable the ongoing efforts to unravel our democratic system and attack the foundations of our republic,” Cheney said. “That was a path I could not and would not take.”

“Any debate about whether or not Wyoming is a Donald Trump state was put to rest.”

Rob Wallace, former assistant secretary for fish, wildlife and parks

Cheney lost to Trump’s pick to take her on, natural resources attorney Harriet Hageman, by an overwhelming 37% margin in Wyoming’s Republican primary election. There were 2.3 Hageman voters for every person who voted for Cheney.

“Any debate about whether or not Wyoming is a Donald Trump state was put to rest,” Wallace said. “I don’t know what it means, I just know that it is.” 

Cheney, a staunch conservative and daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, voted with Trump 93% of the time. She was popular in Wyoming through her first four years in office, topping her Republican challenger in the 2020 primary election by a 47% margin. 

Former Wyoming Governor Dave Freudenthal . (WyoFile)

“I guess that wasn’t enough,” said Dave Freudenthal, a former two-term governor of Wyoming. “Harriet Hageman is not going to vote on issues a lot different, if at all, than Liz Cheney did. If you think about the campaign, they didn’t disagree on anything of substance as it relates to Wyoming except for Jan. 6 and the election.” 

Cheney’s immediate reaction to the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol building was to repudiate Trump, and it earned her a quick slot on the former president’s list of enemies.  

“There’s no question the president formed the mob,” Cheney said the night of the attack. “The president incited the mob. The president addressed the mob. He lit the flame.”

Cheney was one of 10 congressional Republicans who voted to impeach Trump a week later. Now only two of them will be on the ballot in November. Cheney’s vice-chair role on the committee investigating the insurrection further solidified her reputation as a rare Republican who would not fold to Trump and parrot his disproven claims of election fraud. 

But the perception Cheney was feuding with Trump bought her no favors in Wyoming. The Wyoming Republican Party, chaired by Jan. 6 attendee Frank Eathorne, overwhelmingly voted to censure her last winter for her impeachment vote. Cheney’s support among her constituents fell off dramatically.

Exit scene

Brad and Kate Mead escorted Cheney onto the stage Tuesday. Brad is brother of former Wyoming governor Matt Mead and grandson of Clifford Hansen, a U.S. senator and Wyoming governor. Prior to publicly appearing, the Cheneys and Meads watched the election results roll in together and they could immediately see that her path to victory was “pretty tough,” Brad Mead said. 

Brad and Kate Mead, at right, hosted an event for Liz Cheney and her supporters at their family’s ranch on Aug. 16, 2022, the night the incumbent congresswoman was beaten badly in an attempt at reelection. (Mike Koshmrl/WyoFile)

Cheney didn’t wait until her odds were eliminated. She spoke around 8:15 p.m., and early on announced that she’d called Hageman and conceded.  

“But now,” she said, “the real work begins.”

The scene at the Mead Ranch was festive. The couple hundred donors, family and friends who attended listened to a cover band playing the Allman Brothers, ate tacos and barbecue, sipped wine and mingled. There were murmurs in the crowd that Cheney would directly segue from her defeat and announce a presidential run in 2024. She didn’t go there. But Cheney did hint at it and she quoted at length from Abraham Lincoln — a former president who was first defeated in House and Senate elections. 

Cheney was a little more specific when pressed on NBC’s Today Show the next morning. 

“That’s a decision I’m going to make in the coming months,” the congresswoman said of a potential presidential run. “It is something I’m thinking about.” 

The Cheney campaign also modified itself immediately after her election loss, filing paperwork to convert the campaign committee to a leadership PAC named The Great Task — a phrase from Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. 

“In coming weeks, Liz will be launching an organization to educate the American people about the ongoing threat to our Republic, and to mobilize a unified effort to oppose any Donald Trump campaign for president,” Cheney spokesperson Jeremy Adler told Politico.

Trump has repeatedly hinted at his own 2024 presidential run, including during a stop to stump for Hageman in Casper. Polling data suggests he has retained his favorability among Republicans, and in fact is gaining popularity. Trump-endorsed candidates, meanwhile, have fared generally well, though their election success has proven a mixed bag, including in Wyoming. Hageman, his pick for secretary of state, Chuck Gray, and his pick for treasurer, incumbent Curt Meier all won Tuesday, though another Trump pick, Brian Schroeder, was narrowly defeated in the primary election for Wyoming superintendent of public instruction by Megan Degenfelder. 

Odd alliance

Although she lost badly, Cheney was able to mobilize an unconventional, cross-party alliance of supporters in Wyoming’s Republican primary. Outside the town recreation center in Jackson, Ian Jan “Tarzan” Campbell explained after voting how he changed his registration to Republican to vote for Cheney and others because he’s “vehemently, obnoxiously anti-Trump.” 

Ian Jan “Tarzan” Campbell (Mike Koshmrl/WyoFile)

At the time, Campbell was hopeful, though unsure, whether crossover voters like himself would be enough to make a difference. 

“I pray,” he said, “and I’m an atheist.” 

Several people WyoFile interviewed spoke favorably about how Cheney went out, sticking to her convictions. 

“I admire her so much, and I’m impressed by her courage,” Brad Mead said. “I think this is just the start for her.” 

Former U.S. Sen. Al Simpson (R-Wyoming) said that Cheney knew all along “the perils of what she was doing.” The 90-year-old Cody resident, a member of Cheney’s campaign leadership team, said that he had no special insight into whether she’s going to run for president, but thought that she has what it takes to take Trump on directly. 

“It ain’t through, because of her dedication to democracy, the Constitution and the government of the United States,” Simpson said.

There’s a big reservoir of voters, he said, who are waiting for a woman with “power and smarts.” 

“She speaks without forked tongue,” Simpson said of Cheney. “She’s the only person speaking with guts and courage and savvy and smartness. Let her rip. If she wants to get in the race there’ll be plenty of Americans who’d like to jump right in there with her.” 

Simpson didn’t make much of the end, for now, of the Cheneys’ politicking for Wyoming. A family political dynasty, he said, doesn’t mean much these days.

“My dad was a governor and U.S. senator, and if I were to run this year they would have beat my ass,” Simpson said. “I know where I am: I’m high on the range of the RINOs.”  

Dick Cheney sits at the Mead Ranch on Aug. 16, 2022, awaiting remarks from his daughter, Liz Cheney. The congresswoman’s parents, her husband, Phil, and four of her five children attended the event, during which she conceded that Harriet Hageman had won the Republican nomination for Cheney’s current seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. (Mike Koshmrl/WyoFile)

The Cheneys’ political dynasty in the Equality State started in 1978, when Dick Cheney, then a former White House deputy chief of staff during the Ford administration, was elected to Wyoming’s lone slot in the U.S. House of Representatives. Liz Cheney followed in her father’s footsteps and won the same seat 38 years later, though not before a failed attempt at unseating incumbent Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyoming). 

Freudenthal, the former governor, said that any attempt to characterize the Cheneys’ political legacy is premature. 

“Our capacity to estimate that [legacy] in the present, history has proven that we’re generally wrong,” he said. “What that legacy is, is unknown.”

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. While I supported Liz, it seems that she really didn’t want to get reelected. Very little in-state campaigning, no shaking hands/kissing babies etc. and hobnobbing with the Jackson gazillionaires doesn’t bode well with the rest of the State. While I despise the 2 faced opponent, if Liz didn’t want the job, she should not of entered the race

  2. I am a FORMER Republican who was unsettled by Donald Trump’s campaign for President in 2015. It was disturbing enough, that I to changed political affiliation, and hold the flag with respect again. I too would not fall to Trump and am Grateful for Liz Cheney for stepping out from his rule of power and control. We will see what the future holds…
    Thank You Liz Cheney for standing up and not continuing to fold to Trump.
    Lynn Porter
    Wyoming Resident 1981-2015.
    Married to a 4th generation Wyomingite.

  3. Perhaps no surprise that I (and many) agree with Rob Wallace when he observes that Cheney kinda won because “she now doesn’t have to worry about all the stuff she should worry about if she’s representing Wyoming.”

    I’ve thought for 18 months that a loss would not really bother her. And I go a step further – that she was so “over it” all by 2022 that she almost self-sabotaged her campaign (with surprisingly scant spending, a gift-to-Hageman strategy of almost totally laying off her through the early months, and her own absence from the campaign trail). Why would she do that? So she could gracefully move on from a Wyoming-centric career to what really motivates her these days – the national stage and keeping Trump away from the presidency.

    Which is to say that in her heart of hearts I don’t think she really wanted to be re-elected. There’s more important things for her to do than represent Wyoming. She’s said as much any number of times in any number of ways.

    So I guess it’s so long Liz. God’s speed.

    1. Bruce, for the past 3-4 months I thought all along that Liz was scuttling her own ship. While I supported her, now I wish she wouldn’t of ran at all then perhaps a very strong moderate candidate could of won this primary. Instead, it was a guaranteed ticket to DC for the ‘hag. In hind sight, all along Liz was essentially a carpetbagger. She first tired to pull a coup on Enzi then big money (much of it of Cody Wy origin) put her in DC 3 terms ago. Hopefully the ‘hag experiment will go very badly and in 2 years perhaps we can try to recover from the orange man and his trumpanzees

  4. While I dislike most of her political views and policies I would give Ms Cheney a standing ovation on her truthful, well said defense of the United States Constitution. It is clear throughout his life Trump has performed many criminal acts on all levels of the law. Sexusl misconduct, tax and bank fraud, civil right’s abuses and I can unfortunately only guess at the possible reason someone would have kept compartmentalized top secrets in his basement. Sure, Hageman has more then likely won the lone US House seat Wyoming has in Washington but I will give her a chance to see how much of the toxic Trump Kool-Aid she has drunk. Then l will comment on that!

  5. Good article, Mike. Any person, who risks everything for the USA, will likely succeed. (Don’t we just love an underdog?) Wyoming chose a “Trump rubber stamp.” But they also catapulted Cheney onto the national stage. With all the money flowing into her campaign coffers, she almost has to run for higher office.

  6. Liz Cheney wants to be president? In what party does she plan to run? The Democrats won’t have her and neither will the GOP. She has burned her bridges with the GOP. The new GOP is the party of the working class, against illegal immigration, for an economically strong America not bogged down in endless pointless wars. The new GOP recognizes the Chinese Communist party threat and knows a prosperous America is the world’s only hope. Cheney is a relic of a past. Thank God.

    1. I find. Is so disheartening that so many fellow Wyoming citizens support the single most corrupt President in the history of the United States. I guess some of these people missed numerous articles about the what 2500 lawsuits against workers who built his casinos and building paying pennies on the dollar for their work leaving many companies bankrupt and middle class people without a job and paychecks. Then the bank fraud and tax fraud. Declaring his supposedly poorly built building are worth sometimes 5 or 10 time what they are really worth for the insurance but when tax time came around they would lower that at time by 30x it’s value to avoid taxes. Who made this tax shortage, well if you can’t figure this one out then your blond but we already have good reason to suspect this. Remember today the Chief Financial Officer of the Trump Organization just pleaded guilty to 15 charges under a plea deal that says he will have to go to jail for only 5 months unless he get caught in a lie when the trial comes up, then like Trumps claims on the value of his building the five months could go to 15 years!

    2. The new Republican Party is the party of insurrectionists, criminals, fraudsters and know-nothings. It has people like Eathorne and Ide who were present at the insurrection, proponents of the big lie like Hageman and Gray, all the historical and political illiterates that Putin could possibly want and apologists and front men like Fred Harrison. What a pathetic assemblage! Although it is a majority in Wyoming and other backwards places like Alabama and Mississippi, it is a minority in America.

  7. I will just say Liz Cheney stood up for our Constitution and rule of law. Wyoming is standing up for a grifter and criminal. I am saddened to see this. Will Wyoming be saying Heil Hageman?

  8. Rather than dividing the Republican party and guaranteeing a Biden win (a disaster), Ms. Cheney would do better by supporting an alternative to Trump, and not herself, e.g., Cotton, Rubio, Desantis, etc. Conversely, if Trump runs, Biden might win. It is the ONLY way Biden could win. A crusade against Trump will simply guarantee he will run, given his ego driven stance. Deliberately splitting the party into a jan 6 debate is a losing strategy.

  9. Cheney’s obsession with Trump hatred is one of her biggest problems. I do not think she will have another office as long as she concentrates on that hatred and how to destroy him. Personally, I think it is a clash of 2 huge egos.

    1. I don’t know. How about simple ignoring the 15 years of various wrongdoing and Trump enablers that allowed it to go. But yesterday it all coming to pieces on so many layers it’s going to be fun to see how well he swims in a flood. Ad for his followers and enablers, after all this comes out they can pick another despot to forgive, I’d say Putin he looking like he needs some support also!

  10. I can’t recall the last time an incumbent for national office lost in the primary by nearly 40%. A stunning result.

  11. I’m surprised that it didn’t bother the Hageman voters that she is a “shape shifter,” i.e. she was vehemently anti -Trump until she saw she could win the Wyoming Republican primary if she wasn’t. Wow, Wyoming values are not what they’re cracked up to be, are they! As for Liz, no way she could win the presidency once the electorate in the big states look at what she stands for ( no reproductive rights, for instance, a hot button ). She’s smart and eloquent and great on Trump, who hopefully will be in prison by 2024, but as far as Dems and independents go, that’s about it .

  12. “I guess that wasn’t enough,” said Dave Freudenthal, a former two-term governor of Wyoming. “Harriet Hageman is not going to vote on issues a lot different, if at all, than Liz Cheney did. If you think about the campaign, they didn’t disagree on anything of substance as it relates to Wyoming except for Jan. 6 and the election.”

    Sorry Mr. Freudenthal…6/1 is a big, big difference. Its a matter of right over wrong, TRUTH over Lies, and above all, Democracy over sloppy authoritarian behavior…shame on you! Steven L. Hanft & Family

  13. I hope she chooses to run for president in 20204. We, the people, need to stop Trump ever holding another office!

  14. If there is a lesson in the Trump phenomenon it is that many of our neighbors are not the rational adults we thought they were. If there is a lesson in Cheney’s loss it is that Wyoming, once a model of reasonable conservatism, is now a cesspool of ignorance and reactionary anti-government hatred.

    1. Not sure how you came to that conclusion she lost due to her never ending hatred didn’t she?

    2. Forgive me, then, for flaunting my “irrationality” when I say I would like to go back to gas prices at less than $2 a gallon, and that I don’t want to build my life and freedom around recharging an electric vehicle. Likewise, I don’t like the thought of concerned parents being labeled “terrorists” when they speak up at school board meetings, or the thought of male-equipped students being allowed in girls shower rooms. I don’t like wars, something that was absent from the Trump Administration. I prefer WWIII doesn’t occur. I don’t like inflation and shortages, (Really foaming at the mouth here, I guess) and open borders to the point of no borders at all. Irrational. That’s me.

    3. That is the best example that correctly describes the newCult of Trump that says it’s the Republican Party of Wyoming. So sad, I too thought that my fellow citizens had better better horse sense then this! Sadly I was completely wrong!

  15. Living in Germany and being a former resident of Wyoming-near Meeteetse-, I have been following the election results. As expected, Ms. Cheney lost but what she stands for is to be celebrated. She would make a great president.

  16. “I say this to my Republican colleagues who are defending the indefensible: There will come a day when tRump is gone, but your dishonor will remain!” Rep-WY (R)- Hon. Liz Cheney, 9. June 2022 – 6. Jan. Insurrection Hearings, US Capitol

    Trust me, I’m no fan of Father Cheney, who was party responsible for the illegal Iraq War ‘W’ created and disagree with Ms. Cheney on many issues, but she has shown courage, honesty in the 6J hearings. She has stood up for nation over party, democracy over rude authoritarianism, and above all, TRUTH over lies!

  17. Cheney was eaten by the monster she helped create which is the current Republican psyche. She has no where to go. The majority of the Republican Party has caught Trump’s malignant narcissism. Intellectual integrity doesn’t matter. In fact as Cheney proves, it’s taken as an insult. The article above should be about “Where Does The Wyoming Ship Of Alternative Reality Sail From Here”? Cheney cannot be portrayed as on a “crusade”. Her tether to intellectual integrity is too important to be personalized and characterized that way. Just more encouragement for the passion for cults of personality. Step it up!

  18. Citizens in the USA are sick and tired of career politicians and dynasty families like the Bush, Cheney and Clinton’s. Liz Cheney did NOT represent her constituents. She used the backs of good Wyoming people to advance her political career. So did her dad. The apple does not fall far from the tree. She should now follow her passion. The federal government is bloated and corrupt. All energies should be put into making the government a lean well working machine. Going after Trump only increases half of the country passion to see him as President again. Get over the mad derange syndrome about Trump. Move past January 6th. China is taking over AI. That is the real threat. Silly Americans. We focus too much on tabloid news. Biden is a puppet right now. Too old to be effective leader. So is Trump. We need good folks in government that can lead and not divide with hate.

  19. GOODBYE!! Finally the Bush-Chaney dynasty appears broken! Now time to oust McConnell/Graham in 2024 and hopefully other Rhinos as well. As well as many Democrats and get some leaders and stability with common sense and get USA back on track. Good bye to a do nothing but enrich one’s self congress person

  20. So let me get this straight, it was a “mob” that “attacked” the Capitol, even though it was Capitol security that let them in? Were they armed? Was it a “mob” who rioted after George Floyd’s death or were they “Mostly peaceful protesters”? Honest question, and I won’t hold my breath to see if you publish this comment.

    1. Sorry, but this is a false equivalency. With the help of ‘Trial by combat’ Giuliani, ‘Don’t recall’ MTG, MindlessMcCarthy & Co. invoking Mein Kampf as his play book, the ‘Lord of Chaos, Lies & Insurrection gaslighted his MAGA racist mob to the Capitol.

      Also remind of a 17 yr . old, named Kyle Rittenhouse, who should have been home studying for his next Biology or Chemistry test, but instead illegally crossed state lines with an AR15 and horribly fumbled into violence, shooting 3 people, and wound murdering one of his victim! Don’t even respond with ‘smoke & mirrors’ saying he was defending or standing his ground…the boy should have been home studying, Basta

      Unfortunately, the ‘Neanderthal gene’ is alive and well in 21st Century humans.

      1. He was found not guilty but I’m sure you’d love to do away with double jeopardy and have him tried again.