A trio of satirical billboards attacking a primary opponent to the re-election campaign of U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney has gone up in Casper just days before a scheduled appearance by former President Donald Trump.
The billboards mostly address the prior support of Harriet Hageman for Cheney and her opposition to Trump, themes referenced during the campaign before, but never as pointedly or publicly.
One billboard shows Cheney and Hageman standing together and quotes Hageman’s 2016 statement where she described Cheney as a “proven, courageous, constitutional conservative,” a remark she made while stumping for the congresswoman in 2016.
The quote is followed by the words “Thanks Harriet!” in response.
Hageman, who won Trump’s endorsement for her Republican primary race against Cheney, worked for Cheney as an unpaid adviser during her short-lived 2014 Senate campaign.
In the same endorsement speech she gave for Cheney, Hageman rebuked Trump, referencing with displeasure the remark he made to GOP leaders in 2016 after becoming the presumptive presidential nominee to “sit down and shut up.”
A second Cheney billboard references a quote Hagemen gave to the New York Times in 2016, when she called Trump “the weakest” candidate in the 2016 Republican primary, as well as labeling him “racist and xenophobic.”
A Cheney response to this quote is printed as well, with the words “Ouch. That hurts” appearing next to Hageman’s comments.
A third billboard is directed at Trump supporters expected to visit Casper on Saturday for a rally with Trump and Hageman.
With a header reading “From the Desk of Liz Cheney,” the congresswoman welcomes those traveling to town for the rally and encourages them to “Support our local businesses and spend lots of $$$!”
Cary Miller, Hageman campaign manager, said Hageman’s comments quoted on the billboards were taken from a period when she both supported Cheney and opposed Trump.
“Like most Wyomingites, Harriet Hageman originally supported Liz Cheney, and had questions about Donald Trump when he was a candidate,” Miller said. “Also like most Wyomingites, Harriet quickly came to regard President Trump as one of the best ever on the issues that are important here. At the same time, Liz Cheney went in the other direction.
“Harriet Hageman is right where most voters are now: still supporting Donald Trump, and horrified at how Liz Cheney has become a political lackey for Nancy Pelosi,” she continued.
Hageman’s campaign has also been using billboards to urge people to vote against Cheney.
Cheney supported Trump during his 2016 run and reiterated her support for him after the release of his “Access Hollywood” recording in which he bragged about groping women.
Although she voted with Trump more than almost any other member of Congress when he was president, she criticized his handling of certain foreign policy issues and vehemently opposed his efforts to overturn the 2020 election results. This animosity reached a peak as she accused Trump of instigating the Jan. 6 Capitol attack.
The billboards were welcomed by Rob Wallace, a chief of staff to the late U.S. Sen. Malcolm Wallop and former Gov. Jim Geringer.
“I’m glad to see her getting involved in such a public way,” said Wallace, who was also appointed by Trump to serve as a U.S. Department of Interior assistant secretary for Fish, Wildlife and Parks.
Wallace said billboards don’t necessarily attract many swing or oppositional voters, but are effective tools for catching the attention of past and current supporters.
“In my past experience, billboards reinforce past supporters,” he said. “It shows them you’ve got your sleeves up and are in the game.”
Wallace said he also appreciated the “injection of humor” Cheney used, a contrast to the “sharp-elbowed tone” he had seen earlier in this race.
“It makes you smile a little bit,” he said.
Cheney is not the first to use humor during the race however. In March, Hageman released a spoof website called “Liz Cheney for Virginia.”
The website, LizCheneyForVa.com, portrays Cheney as a Virginia resident who is working for the priorities of that state. According to web traffic analytic resource SEMrush.com, the spoof website received around 1,500 page views in April.
Cheney’s campaign has greatly outraised and outspent Hageman’s so far. Through March 31, Cheney’s campaign had raised $10.1 million and spent $3.5 million. Hageman’s has raised $2.06 million and spent $986,606, according to Federal Election Commission records.
Until the release of these billboards, Cheney hadn’t released much advertising directly against Hageman, instead placing a focus on internet ads touting Cheney’s own campaign.
Neither candidate has filed for office yet, now 12 days into the filing period, a surprising move considering both women have expressed their commitment to running in the high profile race. In contrast, Gov. Mark Gordon submitted his filing for re-election the moment the period opened on May 12.
If the congressional race were to start today, longshot candidate Anthony Bouchard would be the only registered Republican running in the primary election.
“With the filing deadline on Friday, everything will ramp up from here on out,” Wallace said.