By Leo Wolfson, State Politics Reporter
Wyoming Democratic congressional candidate Lynette Grey Bull said an endorsement from U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney would unquestionably help her campaign.
“It would at least help people learn more about me and my campaign,” said Grey Bull, a Democrat from the Wind River Reservation.
On Thursday, Cheney endorsed Rep. Elissa Slotkin, a Michigan Democrat, in her bid for reelection. She also released a 30-second television commercial Friday opposing Republican candidates for governor and secretary of state in Arizona.
Grey Bull said that since Cheney was soundly beaten by Harriet Hageman in the August Republican Primary, her campaign team and members of the Northern Arapaho Tribe have reached out to the Cheney team multiple times requesting a meeting to discuss an endorsement, but have received no response.
“Our requests were ignored,” Grey Bull said.
Cheney campaign manager Jeremy Adler hasn’t responded to three Cowboy State Daily inquiries over the past two months about whether the congresswoman would consider endorsing Grey Bull.
Cheney has said on multiple occasions this fall that she would actively campaign against candidates who have questioned the results of the 2020 presidential election. Harriet Hageman, who beat Cheney in the August primary, is one of these candidates. During a forum in Casper in August, Hageman called the 2020 election “rigged” and a “travesty.”
Although Grey Bull admits she and Cheney espouse vastly different viewpoints, they both oppose former President Donald Trump and have confidence in the results of the 2020 election.
“She at least showed up at her debate, which I can’t say for Hageman,” Grey Bull said, referencing a Wyoming PBS debate earlier this month Hageman declined to participate in.
‘I Think I Would Be First In Line’
Although Cheney and Grey Bull ran against each other during the 2020 congressional campaign, it was a relatively clean race and free from any notable controversy.
Grey Bull said this is why she doesn’t understand why Cheney would take the time to help Democrats in other states, but not one in the state she is representing who is running against the woman who unseated her in August.
“It’s disappointing for those who want candidates that don’t contest the results when they lose elections,” Grey Bull said. “When it comes to an endorsement, I think I would be first in line.”
Grey Bull believes Cheney will run for president in 2024. A member of the Northern Arapaho Tribe, she also said an endorsement for a candidate of an indigenous population like herself could bode well for that campaign.
“Democrats, Independents and Republicans have backed Liz Cheney, who they have never backed before, and stood by her side,” Grey Bull said.
Cheney already has a favorable relationship with the tribe, earning an endorsement from the Northern Arapaho Tribe’s top governing official in July. That month, she also attended the 55th annual Ethete Celebration Powwow, so her snubbing Grey Bull’s and the Tribe’s request for a meeting is a surprising move, she said.
“People across the state supported her and Democrats crossed over to vote for her,” Grey Bull said.
Cheney’s endorsement of Slotkin and opposition to Republicans hasn’t come as a total surprise this week because she hinted last month she could make this type of action.
Hageman issued a short response to Cheney’s endorsement on Twitter on Thursday, retweeting a post made by Slotkin’s Republican opponent, Tom Barrett, where he criticized Cheney and called her a warhawk.
“We don’t need more warmongers,” Hageman said in her retweet, including a link to donate to Barrett’s campaign. “We need strong candidates like Tom Barrett who will fight the uniparty in DC.”
Joe Barbuto, chairman of the Wyoming Democratic Party, admitted he was unfamiliar with Slotkin during a Thursday interview with Cowboy State Daily. Although he said he generally supports the endorsement, Barbuto said he would rather see it go to Grey Bull.
“Liz makes it very clear how she feels about election deniers,” Barbuto said. “Maybe, something needs to be said to the public as far as an official recommendation.”
An Uphill Battle
Grey Bull’s chances of beating Hageman are extremely low. Hageman beat Cheney in the primary by about 38% of the vote. No Democrat has received more than 35% of the vote in a Wyoming congressional election since 2008.
However, if Grey Bull can pull a sizable portion of the 49,339 Cheney primary voters, it will likely be the best performance for a Democrat in Wyoming since that year.
Barbuto said he’s optimistic about Democrats’ chances in the upcoming election.
“In the House it’s going to be close, and it looks like in the Senate they’re going to be able to hold on to their majority,” he said.
Polls have been trending in a negative direction for Democrats nationally in recent weeks, with Republicans in contention for many House seats. Some of these seats are in districts that have not elected a Republican for decades. According to the New York Times, 42 of the 46 House races with more than $3 million in outside spending are districts President Joe Biden carried in 2020, and 11 are districts he won by 10% of the vote or more.
Cheney’s race with Hageman was one of those 46 races. Most of the more than $3.1 million in outside funding spent for Wyoming’s lone congress seat came during the highly contentious primary race.