Liz Cheney Faces First Primary Challenger As GOP Backlash Continues Over Impeachment Vote
UNITED STATES - SEPTEMBER 30: Republican Conference Chair Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., left, conduct a news conference on the China Task Force report in the Capitol’s Rayburn Room on Wednesday, September 30, 2020. The report outlines bipartisan action to combat threats from China. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

Rep Liz Cheney (R-WY) drew her first primary challenger as she continues to face blowback over her vote to impeach former President Donald Trump.

Wyoming state Sen. Anthony Bouchard filed on Wednesday to run against Cheney for her seat as the state’s at-large representative in the House. The threat to Cheney’s seat comes as reportedly dozens of House Republicans are calling for her removal from leadership of the House Republican caucus.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has continued to stand by Cheney after her decision to back impeaching Trump and voting for an article that charged Trump with inciting a violent mob that raided the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. McCarthy voted against the measure, but he has promoted a need for differing opinions within the caucus to push back against Republicans who want Cheney to step down from her leadership position.

“This is the same leadership team, with the ranking members and others, that came five seats away from winning a majority when everybody in America thought we were going to lose twenty seats,” McCarthy said on Thursday.

“We allow differences of opinion inside our conference. They’re welcomed. But I think there’s questions that need to be answered, style in which things were delivered. At the end of the day, we will unify because our policies are right,” he continued. “Do we have growing pains? Yes we will. But we will do it in our private manner of a conference that we hold every time, and we’ll have it next week.”

The push within the House GOP to push Cheney out of her spot in leadership has grown to encompass a majority of its members. According to Politico:

The most immediate threat to Cheney — a push by Trump loyalists to oust her as conference chair — has gained momentum inside the House GOP, although the process is complicated and could still sputter out. But at least 107 Republicans, or just over a majority, have communicated to the leaders of that effort that they would support removing Cheney from leadership on a secret ballot, according to multiple GOP sources involved in the effort. Others are threatening to boycott future conference meetings if she remains in power.

Reps. Elise Stefanik and Lee Zeldin, both from New York, have privately signaled interest in replacing Cheney, according to Politico.

Cheney put out a statement before she voted for impeachment justifying her decision, saying of Trump’s actions on Jan. 6, “There has never been a greater betrayal by a President of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution.”

“The President of the United States summoned this mob, assembled the mob, and lit the flame of this attack. Everything that followed was his doing,” she continued. “None of this would have happened without the President. The President could have immediately and forcefully intervened to stop the violence. He did not.”

House Freedom Caucus Chair Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) called for Cheney’s removal on Jan. 12, one of the first lawmakers to publicly do so.

“I don’t think she should be the chair of the Republican conference anymore,” Biggs said in an interview on Fox News. “The reality is she’s not representing the conference; she’s not representing the Republican ideals.”

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