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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Cheney’s Options and Democratic Strategy

In the wake of her overwhelming defeat in the GOP primary for Wyoming’s sole House seat, Rep. Liz Cheney has some important decisions to make about her future. One of them is what to do with her remaining war chest, estimated at $7 million.

This morning pundits are buzzing about whether Cheney will run for President in 2024 as a Republican, Independent or Democrat. If her primary goal is truly to stop Trump from becoming president, the latter two options don’t make much sense. As an independent candidate, she would likely help Trump by draining votes that would otherwise go to the Democratic nominee. Her running as a Democrat is a non-starter as well, since she has a solid record of opposition to Democratic policies, which would alienate too many Democratic voters. But running for President in the GOP primaries could help defeat Trump, even if he wins the Republican nomination. Writing at The Daily Beast, Sam Brodey explains:

….Heading into the final stretch of the primary, Cheney was sitting on a remarkable campaign warchest of over $7 million, fueled largely by national donors.

That eye-popping sum of untouched cash is just one of the many things fueling speculation that Cheney might challenge Trump in the upcoming 2024 presidential election. While she herself has been coy about her plans, her 2022 campaign has at times looked more like a foundation for a longshot bid to stop Trump in 2024 than a reelection bid.

In Wyoming, Cheney was scarce on the campaign trail. Because of her pariah status among state and county-level GOP organizations—and amid serious concerns about her physical safety—her campaign consisted of private, invite-only events around the state….In Cheney’s defeat, Trump and the MAGA movement got the vengeance they craved for most. But, for Cheney, this may all be part of the plan.

“The one certainty is that she will not go away quietly,” said Tim Stubson, a former state lawmaker who ran against Cheney in the 2016 House primary and has since become an ally.

“Frankly, Trump has made it his goal to get her out of Congress,” Stubson said. “I think he may live to regret that decision.”

Brodey notes, further, “Cheney’s defeat caps a six-year run in Congress that found her, more often than not, allied with Trump and his GOP agenda. During her tenure, Cheney voted with Trump’s position over 92 percent of the time, according to FiveThirtyEight, and was a staunch critic of Democrats’ efforts to investigate and impeach him over his effort to pressure Ukraine into investigating Joe Biden.”

Cheney has given up a lot to her quest to stop Trump. Not so long ago, she was on the short list of possible candidates to be Speaker of the House, as an alternative to Kevin McCarthy. To her credit, she put her love for American democracy ahead of her career in congress. Yes, she still has a shot at the presidency. But at this point, she looks a lot more like a genuine patriot than a careerist. That’s a pretty fresh look for today’s GOP. If it doesn’t help her in 2024, but it may do so in 2028.

Brodey notes, “Publicly, Cheney had always been clear-eyed about the bargain she made. “If the cost of standing up for the Constitution is losing the House seat, then that’s a price I’m willing to pay,” she told the New York Times in one of the rare pre-primary interviews she sat for.” Apparently she meant it.

If Trump somehow survives the legal deluge gathering around him and his associates, he will likely have a bruising primary season thanks to Liz Cheney. That will be good for Democrats, and they can invest more in supporting their congressional candidates. If he goes down before then and Democrats have to run against Cheney in 2024, or if she simply gives her money to another Republican candidate, Dems will have a much tougher campaign in 2024, no matter who heads the top of the ticket.

One comment on “Cheney’s Options and Democratic Strategy

  1. Victor on

    Cheney needs to win Electoral College votes in just a few light red states. The only path for this is for Democrats not to nominate a candidate in those states.


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