By Leo Wolfson, Cowboy State Daily
Eight legislators are on the campaign leadership team of U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney, evidence of support within a body whose members have included vocal critics of the incumbent.
Cheney on Tuesday announced the members of her state leadership team, which included the group of moderate Republican lawmakers.
Few Wyoming officials generate more of a passionate response from residents than Cheney, seeking her fourth term in office.
Cheney and her opposition to former President Donald Trump have been a constant divisive force within the Wyoming Republican Party.
The legislators include some of the most long-serving lawmakers in the state, such as Sens. Charlie Scott, R-Casper, and Cale Case, R-Lander. Others on the list are Sens. Jim Anderson, R-Casper, Dan Furphy, R-Laramie, and Reps. Bill Henderson, R-Cheyenne, Landon Brown, R-Cheyenne, Clark Stith, R-Rock Springs and Danny Eyre, R-Lyman.
Cheney is facing several opponents in the August GOP primary for Wyoming’s lone House seat, including Harriet Hageman, who has been endorsed for the job by Trump. Other candidates include state Sen. Anthony Bouchard and veteran Denton Knapp.
Brown was one of state’s few legislators to voice support for Cheney after she voted for Trump’s impeachment and agreed to serve on the U.S. House committee investigating the incidents surrounding the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol.
Brown said serving on a team with other Cheney supporters is an uplifting experience compared to being a “lonely” voice in the Legislature advocating on Cheney’s behalf.
“I think the work Liz Cheney is doing is incredibly important and I’m very thankful to have her as our congresswoman,” he said. “I’m just happy to see more people stand behind her.
Furphy said Cheney’s courage, as demonstrated by her work on the Jan. 6 Committee hearings, is part of why he is offering her his support. He also said he agrees with her political stance on most other issues.
“I think she’s doing a very good job in Washington,” he said. “She can debate and stand up to the press. She can debate and express herself well.
On Tuesday morning, Cheney continued her role as vice chair on the Jan. 6 Committee.
“I would urge all of those watching today to focus on the evidence the committee will present,” she said in her opening statement. “Do not be distracted by politics. This is serious. We cannot let America become a nation of conspiracy theories and thug violence.”
Furphy added his home county of Albany tends to have more of a balance of Democrats and Republicans than most other counties in Wyoming.
“My local constituents are in favor of her,” he said. “I’m not worried about my constituents, although some Republicans might jump on me.”
Brown said he feels confident Cheney will win the race by a small margin.
He predicted that Bouchard will garner enough votes to split the ticket with other primary candidates, allowing Cheney to take a majority.
“There’s enough people supporting Bouchard to split the vote,” he said. “When it comes to Harriet, there’s a lot of people that see her as an establishment pick.”
The majority of legislators endorsing Cheney represent higher population areas in the state, with two legislators on her team coming from Cheyenne and two more coming from Casper.
In contrast, Eyre and Case, from Lyman and Lander, respectively come from areas with lower populations.
Eyre represents the most rural and deeply conservative district of the eight legislators who signed on to the leadership team. He is not running for re-election this fall.
“If I was running I might have given it (endorsement) second thoughts,” he said.
Eyre said Cheney has represented rural Wyoming well, although he wishes she would soften her tone when it comes to her role on the Jan. 6 Committee.
“But I do think Trump should be kept from ever running for office again,” he said. “The hallmark of our republic is a peaceful transition of power when someone wins an election and he tried to subvert that.”
Case, meanwhile, was recently censured by the Fremont County Republican Party for his support for Medicaid and other programs opposed by the party.
In fact, all eight of the legislators on Cheney’s team are considered “RINOs” (Republicans in Name Only) by wyorino.com, a private organization that ranks Republicans according to how they vote on conservative issues.
Hageman’s leadership team has been in place for several months and includes four current legislators: Rep. Chip Neiman, R-Hulett, Sen. Cheri Steinmetz, R-Lingle, Sen. Tim Salazar, R-Riverton, and Rep. John Bear, R-Gillette.
A few former officials have supported her as well, including former U.S. Rep. Barbara Cubin and former state Reps. Marti Halverson, Gary Piiparinen, Jim Allen and David Miller.
Other notables endorsing Cheney include former U.S. Sen. Alan Simpson, former Wyoming State Auditor Rita Meyer, former Wyoming Senate President John Turner and former Wyoming Supreme Court Chief Justices Marilyn Kite and William U. Hill.