By Leo Wolfson, State Political Reporter
U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney continued her departure from Republican Party loyalty on Saturday, saying she will campaign against GOP nominees for governor in Arizona and Pennsylvania. Both candidates – Kari Lake of Arizona and Doug Mastriano of Pennsylvania – have questioned the results of the 2020 presidential election.
“That’s the kind of thing we cannot see in our party. We cannot see an accommodation like that,” Cheney said at a festival put on by the left-of-center Texas Tribune on Saturday. “And I think it’s very important that we be clear about that.”
Lake is the Republican nominee for governor in Arizona, running against Democrat Katie Hobbs in the general election.
“I’m going to do everything I can to make sure Kari Lake is not elected,” Cheney said.
Lake shot back in an interview on Fox News on Sunday, mentioning Cheney’s primary election loss in August.
“That might be the biggest, best gift I’ve ever received,” Lake said. “I mean, the people of Wyoming can’t stand her. I’m pretty much sure that the people of Arizona don’t like Liz Cheney.”
A Larger Effort
Lake, along with the Arizona Republican nominees for secretary of state and attorney general, have called for decertification of the 2020 election.
Cheney has consistently spoken out against those who question the results of the 2020 election, saying this rhetoric and its corresponding actions is an attack on the U.S. Constitution and one of the root causes of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.
Former President Donald Trump has been at the forefront of 2020 election claims. Cheney also said Saturday that she will leave the Republican Party if Trump wins the party’s nominee for president in 2024.
“If he is the nominee, I won’t be a Republican,” she said.
Although Cheney did not clarify specific candidates she plans on supporting in Arizona and Pennsylvania, she said her campaign against Lake and Mastriano could include endorsing their Democratic opponents.
Candidates from the Independent-Green Party and Libertarian Party also are running in the Arizona governor’s race, and candidates from the Green, Libertarian and Keystone Party of Pennsylvania are running for governor in that state.
“The Independent voter and the moderate Democrats and the moderate Republicans around this country want sanity,” Cheney said. “And they want responsibility. And they want to know that their elected officials are serious.”
Although Cheney said she as supported Republican Virginia Gov. Glen Youngkin because he “hasn’t bought into the toxin of Donald Trump,” she also criticized him Saturday for supporting Lake.
President Joe Biden’s 2020 election wins in Arizona and Pennsylvania were some of the most contested results in the nation, with many Trump supporters levying claims of fraud and irregularities. The claims were almost entirely unsupported.
Arizona’s governor race will be of particular interest to watch, as Biden was the first Democrat to win that state since 1996. If Lake does not win the election, it could be a sign that voters are still unwilling to give Trump their support and a bellwether for his chances in the 2024 presidential election. Conversely, if Lake wins, it could be a positive sign for Trump’s 2024 hopes.
Pennsylvania is a traditional swing state and will be another important marker for the 2024 election.
Mastriano has not yet responded to Cheney’s comments.
He was at the Capitol on Jan. 6 and, like Lake, has been one of the driving voices behind Trump’s claims the 2020 election was illegitimate. He proposed giving the Pennsylvania Legislature the power to designate its own slate of presidential electors and pushed for a “forensic audit” of the 2020 election.
“I think we have to do everything we can in ’22 to make sure those people don’t get elected,” said Cheney. “We have to make sure Mastriano doesn’t win.”