Liz Cheney 2024?

She's almost certainly going to lose her House seat. Can she get a promotion?

Via Taegan Goddard, I see that embattled Wyoming Congresswoman Liz Cheney is contemplating a run for the presidency in 2024.

She tells CNN’s Jake Tapper that she’s currently focused on her job as co-chair of the January 6 Committee and “representing the people of Wyoming” but allows “I’ll make a decision on 2024 down the road.” She adds,

But I do think as we look towards the next presidential election, as I said, you know, I believe that our nation stands on the edge of an abyss and I do believe that we all have to really think very seriously about the dangers we face and the threats we face and we have to elect serious candidates

Cheney has certainly raised her profile during the hearings and has rightfully earned praise for being one of a handful of elected Republicans willing to stand up to Trump and for the rule of law. That, alas, is likely to hurt her politically.

She is almost certainly going to lose her job as Wyoming’s lone US Representative. As the AP notes,

Cheney’s unrelenting criticism of Trump from a Capitol Hill committee room represents the centerpiece of an unconventional campaign strategy that may well lead to her political demise, at least in the short term. Many Cheney allies are prepared for — if not resigned to — a loss in Wyoming’s Aug. 16 Republican primary against Trump-backed challenger Harriet Hageman.

Indeed, she seems to be resigned to her fate and is barely campaigning for re-election.

But as primary day approaches, there is also a pervasive belief among Cheney’s team that her unorthodox strategy in 2022 may put her in a stronger position for the 2024 presidential contest. Cheney’s fierce anti-Trump message as vice chairman of the congressional committee investigating the insurrection has strengthened her national brand while expanding a national network of donors and Trump critics in both parties who could boost a prospective White House run.

Cheney has yet to finalize any decisions about 2024, but she has not ruled out a presidential run as a Republican or an independent.

“The single most important thing is protecting the nation from Donald Trump,” Cheney said in interview with ABC News that aired Friday. She said she would make a decision about a potential White House bid “down the road.”

Cheney is one of very few national Republicans I would seriously consider voting for in 2024. But, if she can’t win a Republican primary in her home state, how would she win the party’s presidential nomination?

Cheney, the 55-year-old daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, is perhaps the best known among a small group of so-called “Never Trump” Republicans weighing presidential bids for 2024. They include term-limited Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan and Cheney’s only Republican colleague on the Jan. 6 commission, Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., who opted not to seek reelection this fall.

Trump would likely dominate a large field of presidential primary opponents should he run again, as he has said he will. But there is also a notable group of Republican voters eager to move past Trump and his continued fight to overturn his 2020 election loss.

I really, really like the idea that, if the anti-Trump forces were to band together behind a single candidate, they could take back the party. It didn’t happen in 2016 because, frankly, it wasn’t obvious which of Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and John Kasich they others should have rallied behind. At this point, though, it’s really, really doubtful there are enough anti-Trumpers to defeat Trump or, should have not run, a strong representative of the Trump Wing of the party like Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.

Still, few believe that an outspoken Trump critic could ultimately prevail in a Republican presidential primary. The vast majority of Republican voters still approve of Trump.

And while her allies may be optimistic about her long-term future, Cheney would certainly like to avoid a blowout loss next month in her home state.

It won’t be easy.

Facing consistent and credible death threats, she has been forced to abandon traditional retail campaigning, trading public rallies and town halls for private events where her presence is often revealed to the public only after their conclusion, if at all.

She has essentially been excommunicated by the Wyoming Republican Party, which voted last year to censure Cheney before deciding to stop recognizing her as a Republican altogether. Local GOP offices offer yard signs for Hageman and many other Republicans on the ballot but not Cheney.

Left with few options, she has turned to Democrats for help. Her campaign website now features a link to a form allowing voters to change their party affiliation to Republican to participate in the Republican primary.

Her likely-to-fail strategy in Wyoming—getting enough Democrats to participate in the Republican primary to overwhelm the actual Republicans—is actually more plausible for a presidential run. There aren’t many Democrats in Wyoming, which Trump won by 43 points in 2020—his largest margin anywhere. It’s conceivable that, if President Biden runs again and is more or less unopposed in the Democratic primaries, a lot of Democrats would hop on the Cheney bandwagon.

It is, however, highly unlikely. Pundits and political strategists talk about cross-over campaigns, whether to noble or nefarious purposes, all the time. They almost never succeed. (Indeed, I can’t offhand think of a successful case; I qualify only because I can’t definitely rule one out.) It’s hard enough to get people to turn out to vote in a general election, much less an opposing party primary.

It’s noteworthy, too, that if Cheney were to overcome all of the odds and become the GOP standard-bearer in 2024, her halo would instantly come off. While she would almost certainly do better with true independents than Trump did, Democrats would portray her as Trump 2.0.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2024, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Not the IT Dept. says:

    She’s doing the job she was elected to do – ironically, it will cost her her seat but welcome to America in the 21st century – but let’s not go to pieces about this. There are still real policy differences between her and Democrats, and even non-Trumpian Republicans, and courage in doing her duty won’t wipe those out.

    The logic escapes me: she’s doing a good job in the Senate so let’s remove her from the Senate? Many pundits seem to think the only job worth having is the Presidency but what exactly is she supposed to do in the job if she can’t find that magic wand that supposed to be in the Oval Office? Let her stay where she is.

    3
  2. MarkedMan says:

    It seems to me that one way for a State party to pass into irrelevance is to fall into a vicious cycle of extremist primary voters picking extremist candidates, who drive away more rational party members, leaving a higher percentage of extremists behind. Lather, rinse, repeat. This happened to the Republicans in California and appears to be in the process of happening in Maryland, where a popular moderate Republican Governor is leaving office due to term limits and the Republican Primary voters picked a guy who literally thinks the South should re-secede.

    Can this happen at a national level? Perhaps. Much is made of the fact that those Congress-critters driven from the party are anti-trump, but it’s also true that they also include some of the last Republicans to actually care about policy and legislation. Cheney has zero chance of being nominated, but that is also true of anyone else who spends time on anything but crazy talk.

    3
  3. Jen says:

    Democrats would portray her as Trump 2.0.

    Well, policy-wise, she’s probably not that far off, is she?

    It is possible to think that she’s doing the right thing on the Jan. 6 Committee and still not want to have her running the country. That’s precisely where I am, and it most certainly would be important for Democrats to make clear that despite her valiant work to protect democracy, she doesn’t share the policy desires of the Democratic Party (or most Americans, in fact).

    Realistically, I don’t see how this happens. Even if the “Never Trump” Republicans band behind her, you’d have to have a protracted primary with the vote fractured among multiple pro-Trump candidates for an extended period in order to accumulate the delegates necessary.

    7
  4. wr says:

    What she is doing on the committee shows her to be a person of great strength and integrity, putting her duty above her career.

    And while those would be great qualities to find in a president, we don’t elect a president simply to demonstrate integrity. We elect a president to show integrity while trying to enact a series of policies. And I personally believe that every policy she would push would be terrible for the country and the world.

    It would be nice if there were some honorary position to give her to celebrate her committee work. But that ain’t what the presidency is. So I will cheer on what she’s doing now and oppose like hell any candidacy for the presidency.

    9
  5. Barry says:

    This is just another set of lazy and frankly evil reporters deliberately ignoring the monster stories in front of them, because those would require some actual work.

    1
  6. Sleeping Dog says:

    Cheney’s narrow path to the nomination is the same one that TFG followed. Take advantage of the “winner take all’ R primary structure. For it to work, she will need to be the only Never Trumper with the trumpist lane crowded with Trump, DeSantis, Rubio, Cruz et.al.

    Her FP would definitely be different from Trump’s, but domestically she’d be a standard R. No, we wouldn’t like her, but what she would represent would be a returning to ‘normal’ politics. As president, she’d moderate the R’s and drive off the fringe crazies. I can’t imagine, she’d put up with MTG, Boubert and others.

  7. Kathy says:

    It’s conceivable that, if President Biden runs again and is more or less unopposed in the Democratic primaries, a lot of Democrats would hop on the Cheney bandwagon.

    the question is how many Democratic voters are politically savvy enough to vote Republican in the Summer and Democratic in the Fall. Put another way, for Liz Cheney in the primaries and against her in the general election.

    1
  8. charon says:

    She can run as an independent, great way to raise your visibility, career enhancer post office-holding, she can probably get plenty of financial support from more traditionalist donors who would like the GOP knocked off its current trajectory.

    Sore loser laws in most states would mean no GOP primaries though.

    1
  9. charon says:
  10. Matt Bernius says:

    I wonder how far away we are from a galaxy brain writing an editorial suggesting that Biden should drop Harris and pick Cheney as a running mate on a “unite the country” ticket.

    13
  11. James Joyner says:

    @Matt Bernius: I swear I’ve seen that one two or three times already.

    3
  12. gVOR08 says:

    @Matt Bernius: @James Joyner: An elderly Biden as prez with a Cheney as veep again and quite possibly Speaker McCarthy next in the line of succession. Along with a SCOTUS trying to submerge us in guns and a Secret Service that may be turning into the Praetorian Guard. You’ve certainly brightened my morning.

    4
  13. CSK says:

    @Matt Bernius:
    McCain-Lieberman.

    3
  14. Scott F. says:

    Cheney’s righteous indignation concerning Trump and the insurrectionists in her party is on display, but I suspect she’s mostly upset because the Trumpists are strangling the golden goose that was the Republican Party in the before times.

    I’ve seen nothing from her that would indicate she’s against the minority favoring rules that served her party well even before Trump came along – she represents Wyoming, so she’s a prime beneficiary of the legal imbalance in our system. Now you’ve got Trump, making it all about himself, drawing attention to the need for electoral reform with his Big Lie, and sullying the GOP brand with his public affection for the crazy element in the base that had been kept more or less under wraps in earlier days.

    The Republican Party had a good thing going with the Gingrich-ification of their politics. That branding reached prominence when Cheney’s father sat in the White House. Now Trump has tarnished the Cheney family business, so of course she’s miffed.

    4
  15. Kathy says:

    @gVOR08:

    ..and a Secret Service that may be turning into the Praetorian Guard.

    One time the Praetorian Guard murdered the emperor, Pertinax, and auctioned off the throne to the highest bidder.

    Tell me that’s not the most Cheeto Benito thing that ever happened in Roman history.

    4
  16. CSK says:

    @Kathy:
    Pertinax = Pence.

  17. gVOR08 says:

    Over at Balloon Juice mistermix has a somewhat more cynical take. He points out that she’s always had problems politically in WY as she’s not really from there. Her first foray, trying to primary incumbent Sen Mike Enzi in 2014 didn’t go well, and you may remember generated a certain amount of merriment over a falsified application for a resident fishing license. She then settled for the House seat and refrained from challenging the other senator.

    IIRC she become connected with WY because her father needed to not be from the same state as W after he picked himself to run as W’s veep, and he had a second (third? twelfth?) home in WY, where he actually did grow up. Mistermix presents Liz as always having ambitions as a DC insider. She actually has significant foreign policy experience. I wonder if she might angle for a Biden cabinet position. Apparently she and her husband, a big time DC lawyer, own a house in McClean VA, but Senators Kaine and Warner both seem secure. So maybe she will go for prez.

    2
  18. Matt Bernius says:

    @James Joyner:
    It’s definitely low-hanging fruit for the bipartisanship at all costs crew–especially folks who need to keep feeding that beast.

  19. Gustopher says:

    If she were to run, it might not be to win, but rather as an “issue” candidate and to promote a book.

    Her issue would be that Trump lost in 2020, is dangerous, and that she is going to be a gadfly the entire way in an effort to destroy him and anyone who sucks up to him.

    The book would be written by a ghost writer, and is a time honored semi-grift.

    4
  20. Michael Reynolds says:

    @wr:

    It would be nice if there were some honorary position to give her to celebrate her committee work.

    Oh, but there is: a commentary spot on CNN or even MSNBC, a book deal, the ‘conservative’ seat on The View, replacing Judge Judy. . .

    4
  21. dazedandconfused says:

    When the Trump fever breaks ( which I believe is inevitable – only question is when) I expect it to break hard, and the masses who supported Trump may very well be in the mood for someone of character and integrity. If she is perceived as a winner their media will rally hard behind her, very hard.

    2024 or 2028? If I had to bet it would be the latter.

    1
  22. Gustopher says:

    @Matt Bernius: No, no, Biden should step down, because he is old, and we should get a Harris-Cheney ticket, or perhaps after a contested Dem primary we could get a Buttigieg-Cheney ticket.

    If you can unite a gay man with a woman who refused to go to her gay sister’s wedding… you’ve got something special.

    5
  23. Jen says:

    @Gustopher: It’s funny that you should mention Buttigieg, as when it was noted above that she might be angling for a cabinet position, my thought was “the bone that usually gets thrown is Transportation Secretary, and Buttigieg is already in that job…”

  24. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Jen:
    UN ambassador.

    1
  25. Kathy says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Presidential medal of freedom? Not a post per se, but, you know.

    Or maybe ambassador to the Court of St. James.

    @dazedandconfused:

    All fevers break, eventually. Some do so only at death.

  26. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    The first problem she’d have to overcome in running is the whole no Representative has ever been the top of the ticket in either party. (I’m sure that someone will look up the one time in the past this has happened “to put cracker in his place” if I’m wrong. (It IS the internet, after all.) But I recall reading that very factoid sometime at OtB, so I’m pretty confident.) Beyond that, other than Dr. Joyner finding his way home at long last, who’s going to vote for her? Sure, she could get the Not/Never FG vote, but that’s what? Couple dozen votes nationwide (So okay, 3 or 4 thousand)? And any number of those principled and “good” Republicans are just a likely to go with DeSantis or Cruz or any number of people who are just as disgusting at FG but not named “Trump” and as a consequence, will be “completely not FG.”

  27. Mister Bluster says:

    @dazedandconfused: …the masses who supported Trump may very well be in the mood for someone of character and integrity.

    …and John Bonham will rise up out of his grave.

  28. CSK says:

    @dazedandconfused: @Mister Bluster:

    I think the very thing that most appealed to the majority of MAGAs was Trump’s total lack of character and integrity.

    2
  29. Gustopher says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: Lincoln was (former) Representative when elected President.

    He had run for Senate, back when Senators were chosen by the state legislature, and the Republicans got the majority of the votes, but did not win the majority of the state legislative races (gerrymandering strikes again!) so lost the Senate seat to Stephen Douglas.

    Yes, I had to check Wikipedia for that.

    He effectively won the popular vote but lost the electoral vote. And it was before the Republican Party lost its way. It’s really is a tiny summary of everything our hosts post about.

    2
  30. dazedandconfused says:

    @CSK:

    Yes, but look at the Germans. They suffered a jackass and for decades later elected only extremely boring, sane people. Hot stoves instruct bigly.

  31. CSK says:

    @dazedandconfused:
    Well, there are jackasses, and then there are jackasses. Trump’s a class by himself.

    1
  32. Michael Cain says:

    @Jen:

    …my thought was “the bone that usually gets thrown is Transportation Secretary, and Buttigieg is already in that job…”

    Assuming they’re trying to deepen the bench, Buttigieg is due to move to someplace more important come January. Given how well he’s handled interviews, that seems reasonable.

  33. dazedandconfused says:

    @CSK:

    Nevertheless, I have great confidence that when Trump is on the outs the Horde will turn to FOX* for advice, and they can be trusted to guide them towards someone, anyone, who is viewed as a winner and has the correct letter behind their name. What Trump teaches us is policy means nothing, the Horde can be convinced of anything. Anything at all, and that may well include mentioning Trump once being a Democrat and a contributor to Hillary every time they can work it in.

    *and friends, of course.

    1
  34. Grewgills says:

    Democrats would portray her as Trump 2.0.

    She wouldn’t be Trump 2.0, she’d be Cheney 2.0, which is arguably worse.

    One of the best descriptions I saw of Trump early on was “malevolence tempered by incompetence.” She would be competent.

    3
  35. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Gustopher: Thank you! I knew someone could do it.

    Okay. The row has been plowed historically for a Cheney run. She’s good to go: tanned, rested, and ready!

  36. Kari Q says:

    If she’s serious about stopping Trump as job one, then her best move would be to run as an independent to siphon off the “Don’t like Trump but can’t bring myself to vote for a Democrat” vote. There may not be many of them, but it shouldn’t take many to ensure that Trump can’t win.

    3
  37. Ken_L says:

    Democrats would portray her as Trump 2.0.

    I doubt it. They’d portray her, accurately, as the second coming of Dick Cheney. Liz Cheney has no more chance of winning a Republican primary than Mike Pence or Nikki Haley, i.e. none. She could well be 2024’s Kristol candidate – she’d certainly get more support than David French or Evan McMullin. The problem is that Democrats and journalists have done such a first rate job of making her the face of the ‘responsible’ right, she may well peel off more Biden than Trump voters.

    BTW the insufferable Tom Friedman proposed a Biden/Cheney ticket months ago. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/11/opinion/democratic-ticket-liz-cheney-2024.html

  38. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    Liz Cheney has no more chance of winning a Republican primary than Mike Pence or Nikki Haley, i.e. none.

    I think you’re wrong on that. Nikki Haley a lot better chance of winning a Republican Primary that Liz Cheney does. Nikki Haley might even be able to win the South Carolina primary.