Republican Liz Cheney Loses to Trump-Backed Challenger

Campaign buttons and a rope are displayed Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2022, at an Election Day gathering in Cheyenne, Wyo., for Republican Harriet Hageman, who is challenging Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., in the primary. (AP Photo/Mead Gruver)

JACKSON, Wyo. (Reuters) – U.S. Representative Liz Cheney, a fierce Republican critic of Donald Trump who has played a prominent role in the congressional probe of the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol, lost to a Trump-backed primary challenger on Tuesday, Edison Research projected.

Cheney’s defeat by Harriet Hageman marks a significant victory for the former president in his campaign to oust Republicans who backed impeaching him after a mob of his supporters stormed the Capitol building last year.

The fate of U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, who also voted in favor of impeachment and is facing off against another Trump-backed candidate on Tuesday, remains unclear. The polls for that primary, a nonpartisan format in which the top four vote-getters advance to the general election, have not yet closed.

With 18% of the expected ballots counted, Hageman led the Republican field with 65.1% of the vote, followed by Cheney with 30.3%, according to Edison Research.

Both Wyoming and Alaska are reliably Republican, making it unlikely that either’s result will influence whether President Joe Biden’s Democrats lose their razor-thin majorities in Congress. Republicans are expected to retake the House and also have a chance of winning control of the Senate.

The ousting of Cheney is nevertheless the latest sign of Trump’s enduring sway over the Republican Party. Trump, who has hinted that he will run for president in 2024, made ending Cheney’s congressional career a priority among the 10 House Republicans targeted for supporting his impeachment in 2021.

Cheney, the daughter of Republican former Vice President Dick Cheney, has used her position on the congressional committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack to keep attention on Trump’s actions around the Capitol riot, and his claims about the 2020 election, in a bid to persuade fellow Republicans the former president is a threat to democracy.

Cheney, in the House, voted to impeach Trump on a charge of inciting the Capitol riot, while Murkowski, in the Senate, voted to convict him on that charge. Trump was ultimately acquitted.

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