JACKSON, Wyo. — At a Wyoming cattle ranch surrounded by hay bales, a vintage cherry red Chevy and American flags, Rep. Liz Cheney conceded her Republican primary to her Donald Trump-endorsed opponent and hinted at the next chapter in her political career.
“This primary election is over,” she said. “And now the real work begins.”
Cheney referenced another Republican who lost congressional races before ultimately ascending to the White House, setting off speculation that Cheney might be eying a presidential bid in 2024.
“The great and original champion of our party, Abraham Lincoln, was defeated in elections for the Senate and the House before he won the most important election of them all. Lincoln ultimately prevailed, he saved our union, and he defined our obligated as Americans for all of history.”
Cheney addressed the audience as the sun set over the mountains in the distance, creating an awe-inspiring backdrop for the culmination of the year’s most anticipated GOP contest.
Trump is widely expected to mount a comeback presidential campaign in 2024 but has not confirmed his plan, possibly setting up a race that pits the two adversaries against one another if they both decide to run.
“I will do whatever it takes to ensure that Donald Trump is never anywhere near the Oval Office, and I mean it. I love my country more,” she said.
After leading this summer’s hearings of the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, U.S. Capitol riot, Cheney continued her assault on Trump and his legacy Tuesday. She lambasted the former president and his allies for shaping a Republican Party that accepts election conspiracies as dogma.
“As of last week, you must also believe that 30 career FBI agents who have spent their lives working to serve our country abandoned their honor and their oath and went to Mar-a-Lago not to perform a lawful search or address a national security threat, but instead with a secret plan to plant fake incriminating documents in the boxes they seized. This is yet another insidious lie,” Cheney said.
Cheney’s loss in one of this year’s most significant GOP primaries was expected, with two major polls showing her trailing Harriet Hageman significantly. The Wyoming Republican said she could have easily kept her seat had she bought into Trump’s lies.
“Two years ago, I won this primary with 73% of the votes. I could easily have done the same again,” Cheney said. “The path was clear, but it would have required that I go along with President Trump’s lie about the 2020 election.”
Cheney, elected to Wyoming’s at-large congressional seat in 2016, crossed Trump and the GOP base when she voted to impeach him over inciting the Jan. 6, 2021, mob attack at the Capitol, making her a target for a primary opponent.
The election night gathering was held in Teton County, Cheney’s home and the bluest county in Wyoming. Cheney’s guests mingled beneath a tent set up in the middle of a valley, with music from a live country band. Her father, former Vice President Dick Cheney, sat next to the stage.
Before most major networks had called the race, Cheney said she called Hageman to concede.
In a tele-rally for Hageman on Monday, Trump said of Cheney: “Few members of Congress in history [have] personally caused more damage to our republic than Liz Cheney.”