By Bill Sniffin, publisher emeritus
The battle of the century ended in a whimper. Not a bang.
Plus, Wyoming’s day in the sun is over.
For a brief moment in time, the smallest state in the union provided the biggest story in the country.
Media and political junkies from across the country and around the world focused their attention on Wyoming’s race for U. S. Representative between incumbent Liz Cheney and Donald Trump-endorsed challenger Harriet Hageman.
Hageman slaughtered Cheney by an astonishing number. The vote was 113,025 for Hageman compared to just 49,316 for Cheney. It was a blow-out of gigantic proportions.
Perhaps even more amazing was that President Joe Biden, a Democrat, called Cheney to console her for her humiliating loss to the candidate endorsed by her arch-nemesis (and Biden’s) former President Trump.
To Run Was A Bad Decision
In the wake of her disastrous decision to run for reelection to the House seat she has held for almost six years, Cheney now has to figure out a way to avoid becoming irrelevant. Her only bastions of hope are finishing up her work on the Jan. 6 Congressional committee and perhaps landing a job at CNN or MSNBC.
But would they even be interested in her? Deep down, the Democrats have used her only as a way to get to Trump. Based on her crushing defeat Tuesday, does she have any credibility left? Outside of her hatred for Trump, do the Democrats and the left-leaning media have any further use of her?
The day after the election she said she is pondering running for president in 2024. What?
If her constituents out here in Wyoming who know her best destroyed her in such an ignominious fashion, where does she go from here?
And what makes her loss even more interesting is that just about the entire Democrat electorate in Wyoming crossed over on election day to help her out. Without them, this race might have been an 8:1 loss. This would have made her a laughable footnote in history. She would have gone down in political annals as spending more money per vote than just about anyone anywhere ever.
Cheney’s nonstop criticism of Trump made her a one trick pony and Wyoming voters both did not like the trick nor did they enjoy seeing it played over and over again.
Among all the national chatter about “anti-Trump” voters, most observers just did not correctly anticipate the amount of “anti-Liz Cheney” voters who were planning on going to the polls in Wyoming.
At least 30,000 Republicans who did not vote in 2020 went to the polls in 2022 to vote out Liz Cheney. This is amazing and just shows how sick and tired Wyoming citizens were of how Cheney was representing them back in Washington D. C.
This Race Was A Job Interview
I had to explain to dozens of national and international reporters that although this race looked like a proxy vote on Donald Trump, it was not. This was a job interview. And Cowboy State voters preferred the job applicant (Harriet Hageman) who promised to work the hardest for them compared to an applicant (Liz Cheney) whose goals were based on national issues. And the bottom line was the Wyoming voters did not agree with Cheney on any of it.
On Fox News Wednesday, Dana Perino said “out in Wyoming, voters are hyper-concerned about Wyoming.” She called Wyoming “a special place” and with the small population, voters were concerned about state issues more than national issues.
Aaron Blake of the Washington Post speculated that Cheney’s political career could be over, especially when it comes to running for president. He wrote: “The idea that Cheney would have virtually any shot at winning a national Republican primary after such a loss in her home state is, on its face, laughable. And Cheney is shrewd enough to know that.”
Coy Knobel has a lot of insights on political campaigning. He was press secretary for the late U. S. Sen. Mike Enzi of Wyoming for 24 years.
Coy writes: Usually the candidates themselves also go door to door, at least if it is a close race. Retail campaigning also means going to forums, parades, and big Wyoming celebrations throughout the summer. Incumbents/favorites will participate in as few debates as possible, because they have the most to lose and the least to gain, but in my experience, they are expected to show up. Show up and see people themselves. The candidates themselves do this. It is or at least it was expected of them. Wyoming people expect access. If they don’t get it for whatever reason, valid or not, it is a big factor. That is retail politics.”
Cheney was rarely seen in Wyoming during the campaign and did not even register as a candidate until at the last minute.
This campaign was memorable. I thought it had a chance to be close with all the cross-over voting but I failed to anticipate the huge anti-Cheney vote that was out there among folks who had not voted in years.
I have long respected the Cheney family. Still do. They served this state and their country well for a long, long time. But this is a devastating blow to the family legacy.
Another takeaway from the primary is the question about the relevancy of the Democratic party in Wyoming? Just 8,194 Democrats voted compared to 171,943 Republicans. These are truly unbelievable numbers.
In the end, to paraphrase Trump’s favorite line, the voters of Wyoming overwhelmingly told Liz Cheney Tuesday, “You’re fired!”