by Eric Lendrum
In the latest blow to Congresswoman Liz Cheney’s (R-Wyo.) re-election bid, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) has endorsed her biggest primary opponent.
As reported by CNN, McCarthy issued his endorsement of Harriet Hageman on Thursday, declaring that he was “proud to endorse Harriet Hageman for Congress.”
“[Throughout] her career,” McCarthy’s statement continued, “Harriet has championed America’s natural resources and helped the people of Wyoming reject burdensome and onerous government overreach.” In another statement to Fox News host Sean Hannity, McCarthy said that “Wyoming deserves to have a representative who will deliver accountability against this Biden administration. Not a representative that they have today that works closer with Nancy Pelosi, going after Republicans instead of stopping these radical Democrats from what they’re doing to this country.”
Hageman, a former member of the Republican National Committee and candidate for Governor of Wyoming in 2018, responded to McCarthy’s endorsement: “I am very grateful for Leader McCarthy’s strong support, and I pledge that when I am Wyoming’s congresswoman, I will always stand up for our beautiful state and do the job I was sent there to do.”
The move by McCarthy, a significant and rare instance of a member of party leadership coming out against an incumbent representative, is indicative of Cheney’s rapidly eroding popularity in the Republican Party. After the peaceful protests at the United States Capitol on January 6th, 2021, Cheney joined the Democrats in repeatedly and falsely labeling the protests an “insurrection,” and was one of ten Republicans in the House of Representatives who voted in favor of the second impeachment of President Donald Trump.
Since then, Cheney has repeatedly and loudly criticized President Trump, saying that the Republican Party should abandon the popular former president. Cheney is currently one of only two Republicans serving on the controversial and highly partisan committee investigating the January 6th protests, along with Congressman Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.). While Kinzinger is not running for re-election next year, Cheney intends to seek a fourth term in Congress this November.
As a result of her unpopularity, and particularly President Trump’s frequent criticisms of her in response, multiple challengers announced bids against Cheney in Wyoming’s single at-large district for Congress. Cheney currently faces four challengers, including Hageman, who has also been endorsed by President Trump. Cheney’s primary battle is widely seen as one of the most prominent clashes between the rising pro-Trump wing of the Republican Party, and the old guard of Bush-era Neoconservatives who oppose the president’s populist and nationalist agenda.
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