By Leo Wolfson, Cowboy State Daily
U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney is instructing Wyoming Democrats as to how they can change their party registration to vote for her.
In campaign literature recently disbursed in Wyoming, Cheney explained the process of changing party affiliation in Wyoming in time for the primary election on Aug. 16.
Instructions for how to complete this process are also listed on her campaign website, directing voters to fill out a registration form and submit it to their county clerk’s office at least two weeks before the primary.
In Wyoming, voters can charge their party registration up until primary day at the place where they cast their ballots or when they fill out their absentee ballot.
“Liz is proud to represent all Wyomingites and is working hard to earn every vote,” said Jeremy Adler, a spokesman for Cheney, explaining the literature.
While not specifically encouraging Democrats to change parties to vote for Cheney, the literature does seem to endorse crossover voting, the practice of joining the opposing political party to influence the outcome of its primary election.
The practice is opposed by many Republicans in Wyoming and many have expressed fear this tactic will negatively affect the chances for Cheney challenger Harriet Hageman to beat Cheney in the Republican primary.
The topic has brought so much attention that former President Donald Trump weighed in on the matter and backed a bill in this year’s legislative session that would have required people to change their party affiliations about three months prior to a primary election or between the primary and general elections.
“It is sad that a Republican would need Democrats to game the system by switching party affiliation for the sole purpose of helping an otherwise unelectable Republican,” said State Sen. Bo Biteman, R-Ranchester, who sponsored the crossover bill.
“This proves those people wrong who falsely claimed that crossover voting was not an issue during the debate over my bill to stop crossover voting,” he said. “It is not fair that Democrats get to have a say in who the Republicans nominate for the general election.”
Sen. Anthony Bouchard, R-Cheyenne, who is running against Cheney and Hageman, said he wasn’t surprised by the campaign strategy, calling it a continuation of the influence of out-of-state money and lobbying interests pervading the race.
“There’s millions of dollars being spent from outside Wyoming to influence this race in the lowest population state in the country,” he said. “That’s where politics has went.”
“Liz Cheney told the New York Times that she wouldn’t be encouraging Democrats to raid the Republican primary, but I guess the drive to hold onto power is just too strong for her to keep her word,” said Carly Miller, Hageman’s campaign manager.
“What Cheney doesn’t understand is that Democrats will drop her like a bad habit after she’s no longer useful to them on the January 6th Committee. She’s in No Man’s Land — Democrats just see her as a temporary tool, while Republicans are fed up with her completely,” she said.
Joe Barbuto, chairman of the Wyoming Democratic Party, said he has received comments from many members in his party saying they have received the mailers. Although he said he assumed this campaign literature was also being sent to unaffiliated voters, he has not heard of a single Republican receiving one.
Barbuto suspects this is a sign that the Cheney campaign is in trouble.
“It’s an interesting strategy,” he said. “Maybe they have some internal polling that indicates she thinks she is in significant trouble in this race.”
“Switch For Wyoming”
One of the Wyoming races cited as an example of crossover voting was the 2018 gubernatorial primary, when Gov. Mark Gordon was elected as the GOP candidate over candidates deemed to be more conservative, including Hageman and the late Foster Friess.
A small group called “Switch for Wyoming” encouraged voters to cross over and vote for Gordon in that election.
But the claim that crossover voting changed the result of this race is most likely false, as Gordon won by around 9,000 votes. The GOP added around 8,200 registered voters on primary day that year, but the Democrats lost only about 1,800 registrants, while independents and other third-party registrations dropped by about 2,700 voters.
Earlier this week, eight Republican state legislators endorsed Cheney as part of her leadership team. One was Rep. Landon Brown, R-Cheyenne who said he had no issue with her recruiting Democrats.
“I received the flyer and I don’t honestly have a problem with Americans exercising their God Given right for voting in whatever race they want to,” he said to a Republican constituent in an email.
Barbuto said he has not heard much enthusiasm for Cheney among his party members and is skeptical she will get enough support from Democrats to affect the outcome of the election. Cheney was rarely mentioned during the Democratic Party’s state convention earlier this month.
But other Democrats have said they have heard of many in their party planning to vote for Cheney in the primary.
Although he said in a Twitter post in May he would never vote for Cheney, Rep. Mike Yin, D-Jackson crafted legislation last year that would have allowed for any voter to vote for any candidate at primary elections. The bill failed to receive introduction in the House.
During Trump’s presidential term, Cheney voted with him 93% of the time.
Cheney’s differences with Trump center almost entirely on his attempts to overturn the results of the 2020 election and his alleged role in causing the riot at the U.S. Capitol on June 6, 2021. On Thursday afternoon, she continued her role as vice chair on the House committee studying the circumstances surrounding the riot.
“It can be difficult to accept that President Trump abused your trust,” Cheney said. “That he deceived you. Many will invent excuses to ignore that fact. But that is a fact. I wish it weren’t true. But it is.”
Cheney noted she has voted against President Joe Biden 89% of the time.
“ I am a conservative Republican. I disagree strongly with nearly everything President Biden has done since he has been in office,” Cheney said in a statement last November. “His policies are bad for this country. I believe deeply that conservative principles: limited government, low taxes, a strong national defense, the family — the family as the essential building block of our nation and our society, those are the right ideals for this country.”