Liz Cheney ‘thinking about’ presidential run following primary loss

Prominent critic of former US president will be ousted from Wyoming seat after November midterm elections

Liz Cheney said she would consider running for US president in 2024, after losing the primary contest for her seat in the US House of Representatives to a challenger backed by Donald Trump.

Ms Cheney, daughter of former vice-president Dick Cheney, has represented Wyoming in the House since 2017, but Republicans in the staunchly conservative state punished her for being one of the most prominent congressional critics of the former president.

Her re-election chances plummeted this year after she became vice-chair of the congressional panel investigating the January 6th 2021 attack on the US Capitol and voted to impeach Mr Trump, in defiance of the former president and Republican leaders.

Ms said she was now considering a run for president in 2024. “It’s something I’m thinking about, and I’ll make a decision in the coming months,” she said in an interview with NBC on Wednesday morning.


Following her loss on Tuesday, Ms Cheney said she could have won the primary, but it would have required embracing Mr Trump’s conspiracies about the 2020 election. “Our republic relies upon the goodwill of all candidates for office to accept the outcome of elections,” she said.

Ms Cheney noted that Abraham Lincoln had lost congressional races before winning the presidency, and went on to denounce “major elements” of her party who defended the January 6th rioters and to attack false claims about the FBI search of Trump’s home last week. “Poisonous lies destroy free nations,” she said. “Freedom must not, cannot and will not die here.”

Primary contests in Wyoming and Alaska on Tuesday were among the last ahead of November’s midterm elections. They offered a test of Mr Trump’s grip on Republican voters after the FBI’s search of his Mar-a-Lago estate and the start of an investigation into his handling of classified national security documents.

In Alaska, former Republican vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin, who favours Mr Trump and is running for the state’s only House seat, and incumbent Republican senator Lisa Murkowski, who is considered a moderate, both advanced to the general election in November.

A separate election, with Ms Palin in the running to fill the House seat in the meantime after the death of Don Young, the longtime congressman, was inconclusive. It will be decided in the coming days and weeks after Alaska is finished tabulating the votes based on its ranked-choice voting system.

Congressional candidates who have been openly critical of Mr Trump have had trouble winning Republican primaries. Tom Rice of South Carolina, Jaime Herrera Beutler of Washington and Peter Meijer of Michigan – who all voted to impeach Mr Trump over his conduct on January 6th – have lost their seats to candidates endorsed by the former president. Four others who voted to impeach Mr Trump decided not to run, and just two survived the primaries.

Trump-backed challenger Harriet Hageman had been leading Ms Cheney by nearly 30 percentage points in polls prior to the primary, leaving the daughter of the former vice-president with no illusions about the result.

“Today, no matter what the outcome, is certainly the beginning of a battle that is going to continue,” Ms Cheney told CBS as she cast her ballot on Tuesday.

“We’re facing a moment where our democracy really is under attack and under threat. And those of us across the board – Republicans, Democrats and independents who believe deeply in freedom and who care about the Constitution and the future of the country – have an obligation to put that above party,” she added.

After Mar-a-Lago was searched, Ms Hageman – who has also embraced Mr Trump’s denial of the 2020 election results – defended the former president, calling the investigation “political persecution”.

“If the FBI can treat a former President this way, imagine what they can do to the rest of us. It’s a 2-tiered justice system – one for elites & another for their political enemies,” Ms Hageman wrote on Twitter.

Even before Ms Cheney’s defeat was projected, Mr Trump and his allies were gleeful. Taylor Budowich, a Trump spokesperson, posted a picture on Twitter of Mr Trump dancing and wrote: “Bye Bye Liz Cheney”.

Ms Cheney said she was “ashamed to hear members of my party attacking the integrity of the FBI agents”, criticising the comments for putting “the lives of patriotic public servants at risk”.

But most notably, in her final, quixotic pitch to Wyoming voters, she launched an appeal for Americans to abandon the “Big Lie” perpetrated by Mr Trump and his followers about the 2020 election.

“America cannot remain free if we abandon the truth. The lie that the 2020 presidential election was stolen is insidious. It preys on those who love their country,” Ms Cheney said in a short video posted on Twitter.

Ms Cheney would face a tough battle to win the Republican presidential nomination in 2024, requiring conservative voters to turn their back on Mr Trump and Trumpism.

In her role as vice-chair of the congressional committee investigating the January 6th attacks, Mr Cheney has said evidence was growing that Mr Trump committed wrongdoing in connection with the assault on the Capitol and that the case for prosecution had become stronger. – Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2022