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Wyoming GOP, Cheney trade barbs after she calls party leaders 'radical'

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Anti-Cheney protest

Hundreds of people gather in front of the Wyoming Capitol on Jan. 28 in Cheyenne for a rally condemning Rep. Liz Cheney, who angered many Republicans when she voted to impeach then President Donald Trump.

The Wyoming Republican Party and Rep. Liz Cheney continue to trade barbs, this time over her comments suggesting the leaders controlling the state GOP are radicals.

The back and forth started with Cheney’s statements on the anniversary of Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, when she spoke out against radical elements of the Wyoming Republican Party apparatus.

“There are people in the state party apparatus of my home state who are quite radical. And some of those same people include people who were here on Jan. 6th, include a party chair who has toyed with the idea of secession,” Cheney said in a Fox News interview Thursday. “So, there is a very radical element of the Republican Party in the same way that there is a radical element of the Democratic Party.”

The “party chair” is a reference to Frank Eathorne, the Wyoming GOP chairman, who raise the specter of secession in an interview last year days before President Joe Biden’s inauguration.

Over the weekend, the party responded to Cheney

“If Ms. Cheney wants to continue to pick a fight with the majority of Wyoming Republicans and accuse the vast majority of being deplorables and radicals, then of course she can continue that foolish ploy,” the Wyoming GOP statement read. “She can also continue to engage in the politics of personal destruction with other Republicans – which is her specialty and only real qualification to sit on the farcical January 6th Commission – but that is unlikely to improve her position in the polls.”

The GOP statement indicates that two straw polls will be held at a Jan. 22 party meeting: one to gauge sentiment on her criticism of the party and a second to determine which House candidate that state central committee members will be voting for in Republican House primary in August.

“Spoiler alert: the straw polls will very likely demonstrate the vast majority condemns her views and will be voting for someone else,” the state party wrote.

Cheney calls out Wyoming GOP officials one year after US Capitol attack

Straw polls, however, are not always a strong indicator of broader sentiment. For example, former Sheridan County GOP Chairman Bryan Miller defeated now Sen. Cynthia Lummis by a large margin in a 2020 straw poll at the state party convention, but Lummis coasted to victory in the Republican primary a few months later.

Cheney’s team responded Monday.

“Liz stands by her comments. She has always been a conservative Republican. Like many other Republicans across Wyoming, she is deeply troubled by those members of our state party who have taken dangerous, and in some cases unconstitutional, positions, such as advocating for secession,” said Jeremy Adler, a Cheney spokesperson. “Liz ran for office as a Constitutional Conservative; she cannot condone what happened on Jan. 6th, and she will never abandon her conservative principles.”

This back and forth follows multiple actions from the state party against Cheney.

In early 2021, the Wyoming GOP leadership censured her for her vote to impeach Trump. More recently, the state party narrowly voted to no longer recognize Cheney as a Republican, a move that is symbolic.

In an interview with the Casper Star-Tribune, Rep. Liz Cheney explained why she didn't fight a vote to remove her from GOP leadership following her criticism of Donald Trump's claims of voter fraud and vote to impeach the former president.

These actions against Cheney come in a year that has seen Wyoming’s lone representative steadfastly insist that former President Donald Trump helped to incite the Jan. 6 riot, which occurred as Congress worked to certify the presidential election.

The GOP’s statement went on to repeat the word “deplorables.”

“CNN will not be able to sell that “deplorables” tripe in Wyoming and save Ms. Cheney from an embarrassing defeat,” it read.

Cheney did not call anyone “deplorables” in any of her numerous Jan. 6 anniversary interviews.

Although the state party did not respond when asked what exactly the statement meant with that word, it is likely a nod to Hillary Clinton’s comment during the 2016 presidential campaign in which she called Trump’s supporters “a basket of deplorables.”

Labeling his voters that way caused severe backlash against Clinton and fed into the idea that she looked down upon them.

This is not the first time anti-Cheney groups have brought up Clinton.

A few months back, the Club for Growth, a fiscal conservative political action committee that has so far spent over $51,000 against Cheney in this reelection cycle, released a 30-second ad branding Cheney as a “Clinton Republican.”

With a slideshow of photos of Clinton, the ad starts, “Remember? She benefited from a famous political last name. She sided with Nancy Pelosi and attacked President Trump when he was in office. She supported impeachment and she continues to attack President Trump today.”

Clinton, a Democrat, and Cheney have drastically different politics and views.

Cheney’s criticism of Trump and her impeachment vote has made Cheney’s reelection effort harder than ever before. Previously, she’s coasted to reelection. This time, she faces a formidable challenge from Harriet Hageman, the Trump-endorsed candidate.

While the views of Wyoming GOP’s leadership on Cheney are clear, according to state statute, the state party can’t endorse or spend money on a candidate in the primary.

Follow state politics reporter Victoria Eavis on Twitter @Victoria_Eavis

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