Rep. Liz Cheney loses her primary in Wyoming to Trump-backed challenger

JACKSON, Wyo. — Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., a onetime House GOP leader and a daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, was ousted in a Republican primary Tuesday night, NBC News projects.

Former President Donald Trump’s name wasn’t on the ballot, but his shadow eclipsed the contest as he sought revenge for Cheney’s vote last year to impeach him and her work on the committee investigating his behavior leading up to the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. His hand-picked challenger, Harriet Hageman, defeated Cheney in a multi-candidate race.

Speaking to supporters here at length about Trump and the events of Jan. 6, Cheney acknowledged that she had lost. She said she had called Hageman to concede while seeming to draw a contrast with Trump, who refuses to admit he lost the 2020 election and continues to perpetuate the lie that a second term was stolen from him. She also hinted that she is not done in politics.

“This primary election is over,” Cheney said. “But now the real work begins.”

With her parents sitting in the audience, Cheney noted that she won her primary two years ago with more than 70 % of the vote and could have done the same Tuesday night if she adhered to Trump’s election lies.

“That was a path I could not and would not take,” she said.

And without specifying how, Cheney vowed to continue her crusade against Trump, who is likely to run for president again in 2024.

“We must be very clear-eyed about the threat we face,” she said, repeating a pledge to “do whatever it takes to ensure that Donald Trump is never again anywhere near the Oval Office.”

The Republican Party is important to her, Cheney added, but “I love my country more.”

The fight with Trump cost Cheney her spot in House Republican leadership last year and now her seat, but it also provided her with an elevated platform, a monster fundraising profile and the respect of some Democrats who reviled her father.

The split-screen images of Cheney — losing popularity at home, while her profile rose nationally — have sparked questions about whether she will seek the presidency or slip into another role that keeps her at the forefront of the bipartisan anti-Trump set.

In her concession speech, Cheney compared herself to Abraham Lincoln, a Republican who lost a Senate race before winning the presidency, ending slavery and winning the civil war.

Unbowed by her loss, Cheney compared Trump’s attacks on federal law enforcement following last week’s search of his Mar-a-Lago home to his actions before Jan. 6.

“Donald Trump knows that voicing these conspiracies will provoke violence and threats of violence,” she said. “It is entirely foreseeable that the violence will escalate further.”

Cheney is the final Republican to fall to a Trump-backed primary challenger after having voted to impeach him. Four of the 10 opted to retire, three have already lost primaries, and two survived primaries. In one of those two contests, Trump didn’t endorse a challenger.