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Cheney: We Have a Responsibility to Fight For, Rebuild Republican Party

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney still believes in the conservative values of the Republican Party and wants to continue to fight for them, she told Wyoming reporters on Thursday morning.

“I don’t think [the party] is irrevocably broken, because this is a party with an unbelievable history, the one of Abraham Lincoln and Ronald Reagan,” she said during a news conference. “I think we have a responsibility to fight for and rebuild that party. The country needs a Republican Party.”

Cheney’s comments came just 24 hours after House Republicans voted to remove her from her No. 3 position in Republican leadership as the party’s House Conference chair. The vote was taken in response to her ongoing skirmish with former President Donald Trump over his allegations of election fraud during last year’s general election.

Cheney told reporters the Republican Party shouldn’t be hijacked by a cult of personality, referring to Trump and his most fervent supporters. Some of those supporters have called Cheney a traitor for her vote in January to impeach Trump, but she noted prior to the impeachment vote, she had voted with him around 93% of the time.

“There are millions and millions of Republicans who are very worried about the direction the party is going and don’t want the party to be dragged backward by a former president,” she said. “Some of them are not as public as others, but it’s our duty to stand up for these things.”

In the case of the riot at the Capitol that led to five deaths, Cheney said Trump crossed a line that should never be crossed, not only by the comments he made immediately prior to the storming of the Capitol, but also in his refusal to call for help. Former Vice President Mike Pence was ultimately the one to call in the National Guard, hours after the attack began.

“I think people have been betrayed by the former president,” Cheney said Thursday. “He is perpetuating lies and saying things that are fundamentally not true. Those of us who swear an oath to the Constitution have a duty to uphold that oath.”

Cheney is expected to be replaced as House Republican Conference chair by U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York, although no timeline has been officially set.

Trump celebrated Cheney’s removal from her position on Wednesday.

“I watched her yesterday and realized how bad she is for the Republican Party,” Trump said. “She has no personality or anything good having to do with politics or our Country. She is a talking point for Democrats, whether that means the Border, the gas lines, inflation, or destroying our economy. She is a warmonger whose family stupidly pushed us into the never-ending Middle East Disaster, draining our wealth and depleting our Great Military, the worst decision in our Country’s history.”

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Cheney Opponents Praise House Republicans For Ouster

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Republican challengers to U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney in her congressional re-election campaign are praising House Republicans for removing her from her position as House Republican Conference chair on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, both of Cheney’s Wyoming colleagues declined to comment specifically on the ouster, but vowed to continue working with Cheney on issues important to Wyoming.

“House leadership decisions are up to the House caucus, but I look forward to continuing my work with Rep. Cheney and Senator Barrasso to do what is best for our state,” said U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis.

U.S. Sen. John Barrasso echoed a similar sentiment to Lummis.

“Wyoming has a three-member delegation,” he told Cowboy State Daily. “All three of us will keep standing up for Wyoming and fighting the attacks from the Biden administration. Today’s vote in the House doesn’t change that. I look forward to continuing to work closely with Liz Cheney and Cynthia Lummis on behalf of the people of Wyoming.”

Both Sen. Anthony Bouchard, R-Cheyenne, and Rep. Chuck Gray, R-Casper, celebrated the news in the hours following Cheney’s removal from her position as the No. 3 ranking Republican in the House of Representatives. She is expected to be replaced U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York, although no timeline has been officially set.

“Republican members of Congress finally did what so many Wyomingites have longed to do — get rid of Liz Cheney,” Gray said in a statement Wednesday. “While Wyoming voters must wait until 2022 to also vote her out, this is a welcome first step and shows Republicans are serious about making sure our party doesn’t sell out to socialist Democrats the way Liz Cheney already has.”

Gray added that Cheney is siding with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez while continuing to “falsely” attack former President Donald Trump, a development he said was “disgusting.” He again criticized Cheney for voting to impeach Trump earlier this year and for recently fist-bumping President Joe Biden when he gave a joint speech to Congress.

“Wyoming voters gave her a chance to prove that she could effectively represent them and she has failed us miserably,” Gray said. “Today’s vote exposes Cheney for who she really is and is a good reminder that she can’t keep fooling Wyomingites like she did when she moved here to buy herself a seat in Congress.”

Like his colleague and opponent, Bouchard also celebrated Cheney’s removal, saying she was ousted because Republicans were the party of “America First” and Cheney refused and failed to represent this idea.

“Building the wall, reopening America and bringing American jobs back, opposing endless war, and stopping our enemies like China,” Bouchard wrote on his social media Wednesday. “That is AMERICA FIRST and Liz Cheney despises it. We must FIRE LIZ CHENEY! Vote Anthony Bouchard for Congress!”

Denton Knapp, a U.S. Army veteran who has become the sixth challenger to Cheney, said Wednesday’s decision shows that Republicans nationally are as unhappy with Cheney as he believes Wyoming residents are.

“That’s been coming for a long time,” he told Cowboy State Daily. “Not only does Wyoming disagree with her, but also the Republicans nationally.”

However, the move was criticized by Wyoming Democratic Party Joe Barbuto, who said Cheney’s ouster showed the Republican Party was more focused on defending a failed president and his lies than doing the work of the American people.

“In Wyoming and across the nation, the GOP is willfully choosing to build their party on a foundation of misinformation and falsehoods,” Barbuto said. “It’s a decision they will come to regret and voters will remember for many election cycles to come.”

Congressional candidate Darin Smith did not respond to Cowboy State Daily’s request for comment.

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Wyoming Republican Party Explains Situation Behind $52K FEC Fine

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A $52,000 fine levied against the Wyoming Republican Party by the Federal Election Commission stems from the late reporting of joint fundraising activities with the Republican National Committee and the campaign to elect Donald Trump as president in 2016, the party has announced.

The party has been fully reimbursed for the fine by the Republican National Committee, thanks to the efforts of current Chairman Frank Eathorne, it said in a “status report” published on its website.

“Current Wyoming GOP Chairman W. Frank Eathorne was successful in securing for the Party donated funds to cover the entire civil penalty,” it said. “As a result of his efforts the State Party will not be out any money, having now been made whole.”

In the post, officials explained that the violations occurred in 2016-2017, before the party’s current leadership team was in place.

“The current Wyoming GOP leadership team was surprised to learn in 2017-2018 about an alleged FEC violation that occurred during the previous Republican Party administration,” it said. “Not one of the current leadership team had any knowledge of, or participation in, the decisions leading up to either the joint fundraising agreement or the alleged violation. However, the current Wyoming GOP leadership team was tasked with addressing and resolving the matter.”

The statement said the three reporting errors which occurred over a four-month period happened while Matt Micheli was the party chairman.

The reporting issues arose stemmed from an agreement Micheli entered into with the Republican National Committee and the Trump campaign for joint fundraising activities, which is a common practice among both parties.

Micheli retained a small Utah accounting firm to handle the accounting and reporting obligations under the agreement, and the Wyoming GOP noted that there were both state Democratic and Republican parties who made the same errors as Wyoming in “failing to fully satisfy the specific FEC reporting requirements during the same time frame.”

“Wyoming, in other words, was not alone in the error that was allegedly made,” the party said.

The party has now retained a different accounting firm with extensive experience in campaign finance.

The statement also addressed the party’s fundraising efforts.

“We are also pleased to report that our fundraising has been strong, and we are meeting our financial planning goals. Despite the fact that COVID has hindered our ability over the last year to hold in-person events, we are not only gaining donors, but the average amount donated by each has increased,” it said. “Our numbers for 2021 compare favorably to past years, and we have every expectation that the donations will continue. We are a grassroots organization supported by grassroots conservatives who understand the importance of what we do.”

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Cheney is On Her Own; Barrasso, Lummis, Gordon Offer No Support

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Wyoming’s top elected officials are offering no support for U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney as she fights to retain her U.S. House leadership position.

However, two of the three, Gov. Mark Gordon and U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis, vowed to continue working for Wyoming regardless of the outcome of a vote to remove Cheney as chair of the House Republican Conference, the No. 3 position among Republicans in the House.

“We have to remember that (House Speaker) Nancy Pelosi and (Senate Majority Leader) Chuck Schumer are the real threats to Wyoming,” Gov. Mark Gordon told Cowboy State Daily on Monday. “Regardless of what the House does, I’ll continue working with our delegation to protect our Wyoming’s way of life and advance a conservative agenda.”

Last week, U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise, R-Lousiana, confirmed that he is now backing U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-New York, for Cheney’s position. Former President Donald Trump is also expected to endorse Stefanik for the job.

Lummis spokeswoman Abegail Cave directed Cowboy State Daily to a statement the senator gave to the KROE radio station in Sheridan last week about the Cheney situation.

“I served in the House for eight years and I was a member of the Republican conference there,” she said. “[Cheney] is currently the spokesman for that current conference and it’s up to them to determine who they want to lead.”

Lummis added that she didn’t comment on matters in the House of Representatives and how they conduct their business. She noted that during her time in the House, former House Speaker John Boehner lost the support of the conference, which led him to step down and by replaced by former House Speaker Paul Ryan.

“I know how difficult these times can be, having been through it when I was in the House,” Lummis said. “All I can say is, House Republicans will do the best thing for their conference. And I’ll just leave it at that.”

U.S. Sen. John Barrasso did not respond to Cowboy State Daily’s request for comment.

However, when asked by Fox News host John Roberts if Cheney should be replaced, he dodged the question, speaking instead about the importance of returning Republicans to the majority in Congress.

“I chair the conference in the Senate,” Barrasso said. “And we’re focused on the future and taking back the Senate in 2022. We need to be together as a team.”

This isn’t the first time. Two weeks ago while appearing on ABC News, he said the same thing when host Martha Raddatz asked him if Cheney hurt the Republican Party.

“We need to focus on the 2022 elections, so that we can win back the House win back the Senate, get united on the things on which we agree, and then successfully stop the far extreme efforts of this Biden administration and those that are taking the country towards socialism,” he said.

Cheney has faced growing backlash among her Republican colleagues (and many Republicans and conservatives in general) for her vote to impeach Trump following the Capitol riot on Jan. 6. She was one of 10 House Republicans to do so.

Since then, Cheney and Trump have been locked in a battle of sorts, with the former president regularly throwing barbs her way. She recently commented on his claims that he truly won the presidential election, saying anyone who believed that the election was stolen was spreading lies and turning their back on the rule of law.

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National Pollster Dick Morris Thinks Chuck Gray Can Beat Liz Cheney

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A conservative political analyst told Newsmax recently that he believes Rep. Chuck Gray, R-Casper, can beat U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney in next year’s House primary election.

Dick Morris, author, analyst and former adviser to President Bill Clinton, told Newsmax over the weekend that Cheney was a “gone goose,” adding there is no “split” in the Republican party, but instead a divide of 99% versus 1%.

“She’s a dead duck in Wyoming, where there’s very good candidates including a guy named Chuck Gray who I think is going to beat her in the primary,” Morris said.

Six candidates have announced they will run against Cheney in the August 2022 primary race for Wyoming’s lone congressional seat, with more candidates expected to announce their intentions to run later. The latest candidate to announce was Denton Knapp, a retired U.S. Army colonel who has been living in California since 2017.

Gray, R-Casper, announced his run against Cheney following her vote to impeach former President Donald Trump after the riot at and invasion of the U.S. Capitol earlier this year.

Gray and his legislative colleague Sen. Anthony Bouchard, R-Cheyenne, have both been critical of Cheney’s refusal to stand by Trump.

“Dick Morris hit the nail on the head by calling out Liz Cheney for her betrayal of Republican voters and her refusal to represent the people of Wyoming, who she tricked into voting for her in the first place,” Gray said. “As the polling shows, I am the most likely to beat Cheney in 2022 because I am the only conservative in this race who has the proven record to show that I will fight to defeat the very same radical socialists in Washington, D.C. that Liz has voted with.”

Gray added that his record shows he is the kind of proven conservative fighter who will put Wyoming first that Wyoming Republicans are ready to rally around.

Cheney dominated in the first quarter of 2021 when it came to fundraising, bringing in more than $1.5 million in donations. Bouchard and Gray came in second and third, respectively.

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Retired U.S. Army Colonel To Move Back To Wyoming To Run Against Cheney

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A man raised in Wyoming who spent 30 years with the U.S. Army is returning to his hometown to run for Congress.

Everett “Denton” Knapp told Cowboy State Daily he will be arriving in Gillette on Tuesday to begin the process of becoming a Wyoming resident so he can challenge U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney in her re-election bid.

“I’ll be getting my beautiful bucking horse license back,” he said. “I am not wasting time. It’s time to come home.”

Knapp, who currently lives in Orange County, California, said one of the issues he will run on is dissatisfaction with recent votes and statements by Cheney, including her vote to impeach former President Donald Trump.

“It means something when you see your state is represented by elected officials who do not follow what their constituents want,” he said. “I feel Wyoming has lost trust in our elected official and I think the nation has lost some trust in the election process and I want to get that back.”

The retired colonel stressed he has been a “longtime fan” of the Cheney family.

Knapp said as a member of Congress, he would also focus on things that are “broken” in the federal government, such as the immigration system.

“I understand what immigration means and what the process is,” said Knapp, who added his own mother was from Japan and became a naturalized citizen after much hard work. “And there has to be a process.”

Knapp was raised in Gillette and won an appointment to West Point, which began his 30-year career in the U.S. Army. He was nominated for the school by former U.S. Rep. Dick Cheney, along with Cheney’s colleagues U.S. Sens. Al Simpson and Malcom Wallop.

Knapp went on to serve around the country and the globe for 30 years, including multiple combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. He retired as a colonel in 2017 and moved with his wife Heather to California so the two could be with their family.

For the last several years, Knapp has served in the California State Guard and has served as the director of veteran services for Goodwill Industries of Orange County.

Knapp said he has kept abreast of Wyoming’s issues and challenges with regular visits to the state to see his parents and brother, Christopher Knapp, who is a member of the state House of Representatives.

“I’ve not lived there, but I’ve paid attention to what’s going on,” he said. “Because I am a Wyomingite, I stayed a Wyomingite. I’ve been brown and gold my whole life.”

Knapp, the seventh candidate for Wyoming’s lone U.S. House seat, admitted he is entering the 2022 primary race a little behind some of the other candidates.

“I’m a fast learner,” he said. “I’ve got some catching up to do.”

He added he plans to attend this weekend’s meeting of the Wyoming Republican Party’s Central Committee in Cody.

Knapp said he would like to discuss the race with the other candidates challenging Cheney for the party’s nomination in 2022.

“We’ve got some months here, we have to figure out as a group of candidates what is best for the state,” he said. “If what’s best for the state is to defeat the incumbent, then we have to communicate with each other and not sabotage our efforts to take care of the Wyoming people.”

Darin Smith, a Cheyenne attorney and businessman, announced last week he will run for the office. 

Other candidates include state Sen. Anthony Bouchard, R-Cheyenne, and state Rep. Chuck Gray, R-Casper.

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ABC Host Spars With Barrasso About Biden’s Infrastructure Bill

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A host of ABC’s “This Week” interrupted an interview with U.S. Sen. John Barrasso over the weekend to challenge his claims about President Joe Biden’s proposed infrastructure bill.

Barrasso appeared on the news program to discuss the proposed $2 trillion infrastructure bill and congressional Republicans’ $548 billion counteroffer and repeated claims about the bill made recent weeks, including the statement that only 6% of Biden’s bill goes to roads and bridges and that there was more money in the bill for electric cars than “traditional” infrastructure.

Host Martha Raddatz quickly said this was an incorrect claim.

“The 6% for roads and bridges figures you and other GOP leaders have cited has been fact-checked multiple times,” she told Barrasso. “The total amount for what you have called traditional infrastructure, roads, bridges, waterways, public transit is more than 25% of the Biden plan. So, do you want more?”

Barrasso did not object to the fact check, instead saying he has been working with U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia, on traditional infrastructure projects in this new bill.

“So I actually believe there’s a deal to be had if we leave things out like the Green New Deal, and recyclable cafeteria trays and climate justice, because $500 billion to $600 billion of infrastructure is a massive amount of infrastructure,” Barrasso said.

He said if the administration would go back and look at his infrastructure bill which passed unanimously when he chaired the Senate Environment and Public Works committee, the issue would be solved.

“I voted for it, Bernie Sanders voted for it. It focuses on building faster, better, cheaper, smarter, it focuses on the things that people think of as core infrastructure that the president talks about — his hard infrastructure,” Barrasso said.

The total proposed $2 trillion package focuses on job creation, traditional infrastructure spending and investment in certain areas such as funding for care workers and for childcare to be offered at workplaces.

When Raddatz tried to change the topic to President Trump’s continuous attacks on Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Wyoming colleague Rep. Liz Cheney and if that hurt the Republican Party, Barrasso punted stating that we needed to “get beyond all of that.”

“We need to focus on the 2022 elections, so that we can win back the house win back the Senate, get united on the things on which we agree, and then successfully stop the far extreme efforts of this Biden administration and those that are taking the country towards socialism,” he said.

Raddatz didn’t act surprised that Barrasso reeled off GOP talking points instead of answering the question as she chuckled when thanking him for appearing on the program.

“Okay, that question not exactly answered, but we appreciate you coming on this morning, senator,” she said.

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Cheney Fists Bumps Biden; Bouchard, Gray Respond With Impeachment Calls

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A fist bump exchanged between U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney and President Joe Biden before Biden’s joint address to Congress on Wednesday night has drawn the ire of Cheney’s congressional opponents.

While attending Biden’s speech on Wednesday night, Cheney could be seen fist-bumping with the president, who was not shaking hands due to the coronavirus pandemic. Biden fist-bumped multiple other politicians as he entered the House of Representatives’ chambers.

However, this friendly gesture was seen as a slight against the Republican Party, as Sen. Anthony Bouchard, R-Cheyenne, and Rep. Chuck Gray, R-Casper, noted on their respective social media accounts.

“The lady in blue, @RepLizCheney is probably the only republican allowed in the room,” Bouchard wrote on Twitter. “She is a disgrace and fails to represent the people of Wyoming. #embarrassing#resign#impeachlizcheney. Let’s get her out! Help me fight!”

Bouchard wrote two posts about the fist-bump, encouraging impeachment of the representative.

“Never Trump RINO Liz Cheney spends her time attacking Donald Trump but fist bumps her pal Quid Pro Joe Biden,” he wrote Wednesday night. “Liz Cheney cares more about being liked by the Fake News Media, Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi than she does about standing up for America. FIRE LIZ CHENEY!”

Gray’s message was more subdued, but offered a sentiment similar to that of the Cheyenne senator.

“Liz, fist bump your way right out of Wyoming. We need to fire Liz right now,” he wrote.

Both men linked their messages to their respective campaigns, telling prospective voters to donate to them. They each launched their campaigns in the wake of Cheney’s vote to impeach former President Donald Trump, who she blamed for helping to incite the riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

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Cheney On Biden’s First 100 Days: “An Unfortunate Time For Wyoming”

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney said Wednesday that President Joe Biden’s first 100 days in office has been an unfortunate time for Wyoming.

During a call with Wyoming reporters on Wednesday afternoon, Cheney spoke about her expectations ahead of Biden’s first speech in front of both congressional houses.

“Even thought it’ll look different, the message we’ll be hearing from President Biden will be the same that we’ve been hearing since his first days in office,” she said. “It’s been a really unfortunate time, in terms of policy demand, particularly for Wyoming.”

She criticized Biden’s decision to stop construction on a border wall between the United States and Mexico first implemented by President Donald Trump.

“There are supplies that have already been purchased, we’ve already appropriated contractors that could easily be used to complete construction of the wall in places where we know people are coming across illegally,” she said.

However, since the Biden administration halted construction, taxpayers are footing the bill for both the materials and contractors, neither of which are being used.

Cheney has supported the border wall for some time, noting in the call that the U.S./Mexico border was being controlled by drug cartels who also are engaged in human trafficking.

“I would hope that we would begin to see a change in policy but I don’t believe we will,” she said, adding that she expected to see more policies enabling situations like the border crisis.

She reiterated sentiments expressed by her colleague, U.S. Sen. John Barrasso, that the situation at the border is both a national security and humanitarian crisis.

This is not the first time the representative has addressed Biden’s “lax” policies regarding immigration, joining in with Barrasso last month to criticize the president regarding undocumented immigrants crossing the border.

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Lummis Blasts Biden For Being Partisan On Infrastructure

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis this week questioned the motives behind President Joe Biden’s latest infrastructure bill, noting that the legislation only has support from congressional Democrats.

During a speech on the Senate floor Monday, Lummis called on Biden to unite the two parties in Congress so they can work together on the proposed $2 trillion package.

“Honestly, I am hard pressed to remember a time when infrastructure was not bipartisan,” she said. “In 2021, this should be no different. If President Biden wants to truly unite the nation, he can start by working with Republicans on the most basic bipartisan issues.”

She said it was “perplexing” that Biden, who campaigned on a message of bringing the nation together, was pushing a “blatantly partisan bill.”

“While much divides Congress these days, infrastructure, as that term is understood by most Americans, is a bipartisan issue,” Lummis said. “As such one would assume President Biden would want to find some common ground in order to build relationships in Congress and address the needs of every citizen.”

The infrastructure package focuses on job creation, traditional infrastructure spending and investment in certain areas such as funding for care workers and for childcare to be offered at workplaces.

In particular, Lummis addressed the current backlog in funding that the nation’s highways and bridges face. 

“Right now, we have a highway trust fund that we can’t actually trust,” she said. “Since 2008 we have been relying on general fund transfers to pay for our roads and bridges, instead of fixing our user fee model to keep the trust fund solvent.”

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