Bill Sniffin: Can Liz Cheney Campaign Rise From The Political Ashes?

Bill Sniffin writes: Liz Cheney has become one of the most high-profile politicians in America. She is the darling of the mainstream media, which universally hates Trump.

Bill Sniffin

June 12, 20227 min read

Sniffin 1
(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

By Bill Sniffin, publisher emeritus

U. S. Rep. Liz Cheney is hoping her appearances on the primetime Jan. 6 hearings will boost her reelection chances out here in Wyoming. I am not so sure.

She presented a powerful figure and even looked presidential. Her poise was impressive. Democrats and Independents across the USA were thrilled. Republicans? Again, I am not so sure.

Her main primary challenger Harriet Hageman does not need all 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 polls show the race is close, former President Donald Trump will come back to Wyoming to cheer on his designated candidate. Trump despises Liz Cheney. This is personal. Trump might make two more trips, if necessary. Her actions were a slight to him because of her earlier vote to impeach him. And now with her high-profile role as vice-chairman of the Jan. 6 hearings, the stakes just got higher.

The Jan. 6 hearings

The Jan. 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 U. S. Capitol building on Jan. 6, 2021.

With her anti-Trump stance, Cheney has become one of the most high-profile politicians in America. She is the darling of the mainstream media, which universally hates Trump.

Trump cannot afford to have Cheney 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 be held today, here is an early 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 victory for Hageman over Cheney.

Although Cheney has raised over $10 million compared to Hageman’s $2 million, her 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. This 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 dependable Republicans like Jack Speight, Rita Meyer, and John Turner praising her. These are all prominent members of the moderate wing of the state’s Republican party.

Despite her new-found media influence, what hurts Cheney is that she has lost most of her political clout in Washington, D.C. In most things GOP back there, she has become a pariah. She used to have amazing powers in the past but today in the U. S. Congress, much of that has disappeared.

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 flashing eyes, and her turquoise jewelry. Not sure I would recommend that attire to a candidate running for serious political office, but it is her walking and talking logo.

Liz, meanwhile, has adopted an improved Hillary Clinton look. She is all business with slacks, a blazer, and big hair. As a mother of five children, Liz presents a pleasant appearance looking trim and ready to go to work.

Both gals are mentally sharp. If you are taking either of them on, you better bring your “A” game. Their debates will be fascinating. This could have the look of a Heavyweight Boxing Match.  

Liz’s secret weapon will be the 10,000 Democrats, Independents, and other Trump-haters who will cross over to vote in the Aug. 16 primary. I talked with two of them this week, Tom Jones and Alan Culver, who said they are definitely crossing over on election day. A statewide Democrat leader told me that every single Democrat he knows will be crossing party lines to vote for Liz.  

Harriet’s secret weapon is that no matter how hard you campaign, it is very hard to get voters to vote in that mid-August primary. Voters would just about want to be doing anything in Wyoming in late summer rather than stopping what they are doing and going to the polls. Hageman’s supporters will go to the polls. She needs to get 55,000 of them.

Last big fight was 2018

The last GOP contested primary like this was in 2018. Voting were 117,752 Republicans, 19,459 Democrats, and 2,598 independents. Estimates were that more than 8,200 Democrats and Independents changed their party affiliation 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 governor primary including gaining extensive name recognition. She ran a very efficient campaign spending less than half the money that Gordon, Friess, and Galeotos each spent, yet, she polled well. She was the top Republican vote-getter in five counties in that race, Campbell, Converse, Platte, Goshen, and Niobrara.

That same year in 2018, Liz outpolled Rod Miller 75,183 to 22,045 in the U S Rep race. The total was about 110,500 votes counting write-ins and other candidates.

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

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

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

Republican operative John Brown of Lander, who supports Cheney, said: “I’ve seen a lot of Hageman signs, especially up near Buffalo and Sheridan. It looks like that’s her stronghold. However, Cheney signs have just been distributed, and I’ve seen a few in Lander, but I’ve seen more in Riverton, which surprises me! I’m tempted to predict Harriet will win based on what I’ve seen early in ‘sign season.’ However, I suspect we’ll see more Cheney signs than you might expect,” he said.

Pat Henderson of Sheridan felt women would put Cheney back in office because of their disdain for Trump. He said: “I met my bride in college, married very shortly after. We have a daughter. We have grand-daughters. The ladies that I know in Sheridan and statewide are mostly married, have daughters, and now granddaughters like us. They do not support Hageman in large part because of her association and fawning to Trump as well as his vulgar actions. I do not support Trump or Hageman nor do many women and men friends and colleagues that I know in considerable part due to these severe character flaws.”   

This is shaping up to be the most expensive political campaign in Cowboy State history. If Hageman spends $2 million for 55,000 votes, it would be $36 per vote. If Cheney spends $10 million for the same number, it would be $181 per vote.

Two months during a primary season can fly by quickly. Hageman will now be caught up in parade season. Cheney has confined most of her campaign appearances to more intimate groups.

Cheney has the money and Hageman has the momentum. Unless there is some bombshell scandal coming, it looks to me like this race is Hageman’s to lose. Stay tuned.

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Bill Sniffin

Wyoming Life Columnist

Columnist, author, and journalist Bill Sniffin writes about Wyoming life on Cowboy State Daily -- the state's most-read news publication.