Bill Sniffin: Can Liz Cheney’s campaign rise from the political ashes?


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By Bill Sniffin, Editor Emeritus

U.S. Representative Liz Cheney hopes her Jan. 6 prime-time hearing appearances will boost her re-election chances here in Wyoming. I’m not so sure.

She presented a powerful figure and even looked presidential. His poise was impressive. Democrats and independents across the United States were thrilled. Republicans? Again, I’m not so sure.

Her primary primary challenger Harriet Hageman doesn’t need all of the GOP primary votes to defeat incumbent Cheney — she just needs more than Liz gets on Aug. 16.

Hageman will get both pro-Hageman votes and anti-Cheney votes. If the polls show the race is close, former President Donald Trump will return to Wyoming to cheer on his nominee. Trump despises Liz Cheney. It’s personal. Trump could make two more trips, if necessary. His actions were a slight to him due to his earlier vote to impeach him. And now, with her prominent role as vice president of the January 6 hearings, the stakes are only raised.

The January 6 hearings

The January 6 congressional hearings are an attempt to convince the American people that then-President Trump orchestrated the riots where thousands of people attacked and invaded the US Capitol building on January 6, 2021.

With her anti-Trump stance, Cheney has become one of America’s most prominent female politicians. She is the darling of the mainstream media, which universally hates Trump.

Trump can’t afford Cheney to win this race.

Although this is a Republican primary, I can see four distinct types of voters in this race: Pro-Cheney, Anti-Cheney, Pro-Hageman, and Democrats for Cheney.

If the Republican primary were to take place today, here is a first prediction:

Pro Cheney – 35,000.

Dems for Cheney – 10,000.

Anti Cheney – 25,000.

Pro-Hageman – 30,000.

This would result in a 10,000 vote win for Hageman over Cheney.

Although Cheney has raised more than $10 million compared to Hageman’s $2 million, his success in this race will come down to one simple goal. She must convince thousands of Wyoming voters over the next two months to change their minds and vote for her. It could be a tough sell.

Cheney’s job is to move the needle. She recently got off to a good start with a testimonial TV ad featuring reliable Republicans like Jack Speight, Rita Meyer and John Turner praising her. They are all prominent members of the moderate wing of the state’s Republican Party.

Despite her newfound media influence, what hurts Cheney is that she has lost most of her political clout in Washington, DC. In most GOP stuff there, she’s become an outcast. She used to have incredible powers in the past, but today in the US Congress, much of that is gone.

Let’s talk about styles. Politically, Cheney and Hageman are not far apart except for the Trump factor.

Hageman’s uniform is her black dress, her black hair pulled back to emphasize her bright eyes, and her turquoise jewelry. I’m not sure I would recommend this outfit to a candidate running for serious political office, but it’s her logo that works and talks.

Liz, meanwhile, adopted an upgraded Hillary Clinton look. She’s all business with pants, a blazer and big hair. As a mother of five, Liz presents a pleasant appearance, neat and ready to go to work.

Both girls are mentally sharp. If you’re going up against one of them, you better bring your “A” game. Their debates will be fascinating. It might look like a heavyweight boxing match.

Liz’s secret weapon will be the 10,000 Democrats, Independents and other Trump haters who turn up to vote in the Aug. 16 primary. I spoke with two of them this week, Tom Jones and Alan Culver, who said they would definitely make it through Election Day. A statewide Democratic leader told me that every Democrat he knows would cross party lines to vote for Liz.

Harriet’s secret weapon is that no matter how hard you campaign, getting voters to vote in this mid-August primary is very difficult. Voters would pretty much want to do anything in Wyoming come summer’s end rather than stop what they’re doing and go to the polls. Hageman’s supporters will go to the polls. She must get 55,000.

The last big fight was in 2018

The last GOP-contested primary like this was in 2018. The vote was 117,752 Republicans, 19,459 Democrats and 2,598 independents. It is estimated that more than 8,200 Democrats and independents switched party affiliations on Election Day to help elect moderate Mark Gordon over conservatives Foster Friess, Sam Galeotos, Taylor Haynes and Hageman.

Harriet spent $1 million and got 25,052 votes in that 2018 GOP gubernatorial primary, including gaining widespread name recognition. She ran a very effective campaign spending less than half the money Gordon, Friess and Galeotos each spent, but she sounded good. She was the top Republican voter in five counties in that race, Campbell, Converse, Platte, Goshen and Niobrara.

That same year in 2018, Liz edged Rod Miller 75,183 to 22,045 in the US Rep race. The total was approximately 110,500 votes counting written entries and other candidates.

A recent WPA Intelligence poll of Republican primary voters in Wyoming conducted on behalf of the Club for Growth PAC from May 24-25, 2022, showed Hageman leading Cheney.

The poll shows Hageman leading Cheney by 30 points and has the support of a majority of Republican primary voters in Wyoming.

  • A majority (56%) of primary voters would support Hageman if the election were held today.
  • Only a quarter (26%) would support Cheney.
  • State Senator Anthony Bouchard is at 12%. Six percent of primary voters are undecided.

Republican Agent John Brown of Lander, who supports Cheney, said, “I saw a lot of Hageman signs, especially near Buffalo and Sheridan. Looks like it’s his stronghold. However, the Cheney signs have just been distributed, and I’ve seen a few in Lander, but I’ve seen more in Riverton, which amazes me! I’m tempted to predict that Harriet will win based on what I saw at the start of the “season of signs”. However, I suspect we will see more Cheney signs than you might think,” he said.

Pat Henderson of Sheridan felt that women would return Cheney to power because of their disdain for Trump. He said: ‘I met my wife at university who was married very soon after. We have a daughter. We have granddaughters. The ladies I know in Sheridan and across the state are mostly married, have daughters, and now have granddaughters like us. They don’t support Hageman largely because of his association and submission to Trump as well as his vulgar actions. I do not support Trump or Hageman, nor do many female and male friends and colleagues I know largely because of these serious character flaws.

It’s shaping up to be the most expensive political campaign in Cowboy State history. If Hageman spends $2 million on 55,000 votes, that would be $36 per vote. If Cheney spends $10 million on the same number, that would be $181 per vote.

Two months in a primary season can pass quickly. Hageman will now be caught up in the catwalk season. Cheney confined most of his campaign appearances to more intimate groups.

Cheney has the money and Hageman has the momentum. Unless there is an explosive scandal to come, it seems to me that this race is up for grabs for Hageman. Stay tuned.

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