No sooner had Donald Trump given his blessing last week to Harriet Hageman’s candidacy against Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., than two other Cheney foes in the Republican primary next year abandoned their bids for Wyoming’s at-large House seat.
The withdrawals of former Laramie County GOP Chairman Darin Smith and two-time U.S. Senate hopeful Bryan Miller — both of which came Thursday just hours after Trump issued a strong endorsement of Republican National Committeewoman Hageman — are expected to enhance Hageman’s chances of taking out the two-term Cheney.
Both of the erstwhile contenders told reporters they would support Hageman — a clear sign of the punch Trump’s endorsement has among Cowboy State Republican.
GOP sources in the state said they expect state Rep. Chuck Gray, whose candidacy has been primarily funded by the candidate and his father, was very likely to exit the race and also back Hageman.
Another contender is state Sen. Anthony Bouchard, who was reelected last year but faces a tough decision. With redistricting coming up fast, any state Senate district that is changed in any way will have to have a new election in 2022. So Bouchard, whose district is certain to be changed, will have to decide whether to continue his challenge to Cheney or run again in his Senate district.
In endorsing Hageman, who lost a bid for nomination as governor in 2018, the former president underscored his distaste for Cheney, who he labeled a “warmonger.”
“Harriet has my complete and total Endorsement in replacing number one provider of sound bites, Liz Cheney,” Trump wrote in his Save America PAC.
Cheney responded to the Trump-blessed Hageman challenge with a two-word tweet: “Bring it!”
Jack Mueller of Cheyenne, a past national chairman of the Young Republicans, spoke for many party activists in his state when he recalled, “I supported Liz [for Congress in ’18]. I also led the charge in our [Republican] county committee to censure her after she voted for Trump’s impeachment. She called me after that meeting. I accused her of forming a cabal with [Democratic House Speaker Nancy] Pelosi. She said that was unfair . . . but now she is on the ‘witch hunt’ committee [investigating the Jan. 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol] appointed by Pelosi, I wonder what her answer would be this round.”
If Bouchard and Gray join Miller and Smith in exiting the race, Hageman will have votes taken from her only by what Mueller calls “small fry” [three obscure candidates] and be better-than-even money to take out Cheney.
According to a late-July McLaughlin poll among likely Republican voters in Wyoming, a whopping 72% have an unfavorable opinion of Cheney.
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for The Patriot Depot. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.