AUGUST 22, 2022
Rep. Liz Cheney (R., Wyo.). – Photo Credit: patrick t. fallon/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Rep. Liz Cheney (R., Wyo.) said on Sunday that her political focus after leaving Congress would go beyond challenging former President Donald Trump’s hold on the Republican Party to include opposing candidates who promote Mr. Trump’s false claim that the 2020 election was stolen.
“I’m going to be very focused on working to ensure that we do everything we can not to elect election deniers,” Ms. Cheney said on ABC. “We’ve got election deniers that have been nominated for really important positions all across the country. And I’m going to work against those people. I’m going to work to support their opponents.”
Ms. Cheney, the most prominent of the House Republicans who voted to impeach President Trump on a charge of inciting the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol, lost her GOP primary election last week. Hours after her loss, she filed with the Federal Election Commission to transfer the remaining cash from her federal campaign account to a new political-action committee. She had more than $7 million in cash on hand at the end of July, according to FEC filings.
Ms. Cheney’s stature as a leading critic of Mr. Trump and her presumed ability to raise money have generated broad interest in her next steps in politics. If she took action this year, her comments could translate into support for Democratic candidates in some races. In states including Nevada, Pennsylvania and Arizona, Republican nominees running for Congress, as well as for statewide offices such as secretary of state and governor, have promoted the idea that the 2020 election was stolen and that President Biden is an illegitimate president.
Ms. Cheney, in the interview Sunday, cited as potential targets Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Josh Hawley of Missouri, as well as Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, all of whom are Republicans with presidential ambitions. Of the two senators, she said that both “took steps that fundamentally threatened the constitutional order and structure in the aftermath of the last election. So, in my view, they both have made themselves unfit for future office.’’
The two senators objected in writing to certifying the results of the 2020 presidential contest. A photograph of Mr. Hawley with a raised fist earlier that day in solidarity with the Trump supporters surrounding the Capitol has become an iconographic image of Jan 6.
Representatives for Messrs. Hawley and DeSantis didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. A spokesman for Mr. Cruz said that “Sen. Cruz doesn’t need or want soon-to-be-former Rep. Liz Cheney’s endorsement, and he wishes her the best of luck in the 2024 Democrat presidential primary.”
Ms. Cheney didn’t offer details about the chance that she would run for the presidency in 2024 or, if she did run, whether it would be as a Republican or an independent. “Any decision that I make about doing something that significant and that serious would be with the intention of winning and because I think I would be the best candidate,” she said.
Ms. Cheney’s landslide primary loss last week was another indicator of Mr. Trump’s ability to shape the Republican Party. Ms. Cheney was defeated by Harriet Hageman, an attorney who had Mr. Trump’s endorsement.
Another test of Mr. Trump’s influence will come with this fall’s Senate elections. In some states, including Georgia and Pennsylvania, Republican candidates who won their primaries with Mr. Trump’s support are now lagging behind in public opinion polls. In other states, top-tier Republicans, including Gov. Chris Sununu of New Hampshire, chose not to run for the Senate, despite appeals to do so from some party leaders.
Mr. Sununu on Sunday acknowledged the difficulties facing some Republican Senate candidates. In a year when Republicans seemed poised to win many Senate seats, they are now fighting for a narrow majority, Mr. Sununu said on Fox.
“We’ve got to start focusing on closing this deal, making sure we cross the finish line with good candidates winning back the Senate. I think we are going to win back the House. But the Senate—instead of being a guaranteed 54—New Hampshire could be that 51st vote now,’’ he said, referring to GOP efforts to build a majority in the 100-seat Senate. “And I think it’s going to be.”
“I still think those Republican candidates can win,’’ he said of GOP Senate nominees in Pennsylvania and Georgia. “I think they are good candidates. But they are having a much harder time than they frankly should have in what should be a wipeout year.”
A spokeswoman for Herschel Walker, a Republican who is running for a Senate seat from Georgia, said that “beating an incumbent candidate is never easy but Herschel is a good candidate, and he’s going to win.” A spokeswoman for Republican Senate candidate Mehmet Oz, who is running to fill an open Senate seat from Pennsylvania, didn’t respond to a request for comment.
Last week, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) said that “there’s probably a greater likelihood that the House flips than the Senate,” and that in such statewide races, “candidate quality has a lot to do with the outcome.”
Mr. Trump on Saturday chafed at Mr. McConnell’s analysis. “Why do Republican Senators allow a broken down hack politician, Mitch McConnell, to openly disparage hard working Republican candidates for the United States Senate,” Mr. Trump wrote on his media platform, Truth Social. “He should spend more time (and money!) helping them get elected.”
Ms. Cheney, who is the vice chair of the Jan. 6 select committee investigating the attack on the Capitol, said that she still hoped that the committee would hear testimony from former Vice President Mike Pence, who resisted pressure from Mr. Trump to stop or delay the certification of the presidential contest. She suggested that it was still possible that the committee would ask Mr. Trump to testify. Committee members have wrestled with the question for months.
“I don’t want to get in front of committee deliberations about that,” she said.