Cheney fuels talks over independent bid

Rep. Liz Cheney’s (R-Wyo.) comment that she won’t be a Republican if former President Trump wins the party’s presidential nomination in 2024 sparks talk that she could organize an independent race to the White House.

While Cheney lost her House primary to the former president’s endorsed nominee last month, her break from the MAGA wing of the GOP has made her the leader of the anti-Trump movement among Republicans and the -of the.

It’s unclear whether Cheney will run in 2024, whether she would run as an independent if she mounts a bid or what impact an independent bid could have on what promises to be another Trump-focused presidential election. But observers say she will continue to be an important figure on the national stage no matter what.

“She’s going to be one of the most important voices in politics for the next few years, whether or not she’s in Congress,” veteran Republican strategist Doug Heye said.

Talk of a possible Cheney presidential bid began almost the minute she lost her House primary and gave a speech that was both a concession and a vow to keep fighting. His comments over the weekend are the latest to catch the attention of political watchers, who are all eager to see how Cheney responds to a likely Trump presidential election in 2024.

Although the former president has yet to announce his intentions, reports suggest he could launch another White House bid soon after the November midterms.

“I’m going to make sure Donald Trump — I’m going to do everything I can to make sure he’s not the candidate,” she said during an interview with the Texas Tribune Festival on Saturday.

“And if he’s the candidate, I won’t be a Republican,” she added.

Additionally, the incumbent congresswoman said she would be open to campaigning for the Democrats ahead of November’s midterm elections.

Cheney – who has said she is “thinking” of a presidential race – remains one of the big wild cards ahead of 2024. Although third-party presidential campaigns have always failed, Cheney’s high profile means an independent bid has the potential to confuse the political calculus as GOP primary voters increasingly nominate far-right candidates for election, frustrating more moderate Republicans.

But even as chatter grows about the next presidential race, some observers caution against emphasizing Cheney’s message.

“There’s going to be a lot of stories between now and whenever there’s horse racing, what are his chances in Nevada or New Hampshire or whatever, and I think they are all going to miss the point,” Heye said.

“She is not talking about winning this or that constituency. It speaks to a much larger issue,” he continued, referring to concerns about the future of American democracy.

Cheney herself shared that sentiment in Texas over the weekend when asked about 2024.

“I think it’s really important not to get into horse racing right away. And I think about what we need as a country. And, you know, we have to step back from the abyss,” Cheney said. “And we have to recognize that, that there’s this shift going on in our politics, that the tectonic plates are shifting. And that means we all have a responsibility to say to ourselves, what are we going to do to make sure that our children, you know, know what it means to have peaceful transfers of power? And what are we going to do to make sure we don’t contribute to the crumbling of the republic? And I think that’s a much bigger question.

Still, as the most prominent face of the anti-Trump movement, Cheney is seen as a natural alternative for Republicans unhappy with the party’s direction under Trump, especially when it comes to bolstering candidates who deny the results of the 2020 presidential election.

The question is how many of those Republicans there are — and whether there are Democrats willing to go beyond praising her work against Trump and vote for her.

During his primary evening speech last month, Cheney called on “Republicans, Democrats and Independents” to stand with him “against those who would destroy our republic.” Additionally, Cheney promised to “do whatever it takes to ensure that Donald Trump is never near the Oval Office again.”

And Cheney reported that she was keeping her promise. Hours after losing his primary, Cheney launched The Great Task, a political action committee committed to preventing Trump from retaking the presidency. Additionally, Cheney will continue to make headlines before she leaves office, particularly as the House Select Committee she co-chairs completes its work investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol.

Meanwhile, Republican critics of Cheney argue his actions amount to agitation and ultimately won’t impact the GOP’s trajectory or the nation’s politics as a whole.

“Liz Cheney represents a group of Republicans who haven’t understood why people have embraced some of this populism both left and right,” Republican strategist Keith Naughton said. “They’re just pouting because they’re out of power and they don’t like Donald Trump.”

Over the weekend, Cheney specifically targeted Arizona Republican gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake and Pennsylvania Republican gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano for their denial of the 2020 presidential election results.

Lake, who is locked in a close race against Democrat Katie Hobbs, responded on Sunday by describing Cheney’s comments as a “gift.”

“This might be the biggest and best gift I’ve ever received,” Lake told Maria Bartiromo on Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures.” “Liz Cheney should probably change her voter registration. Turns out she really is a Democrat after all.

Underscoring the challenges Cheney faces in the GOP, a recent Morning Consult survey found that 66% of Republicans hold an unfavorable opinion of her. 21% said they had no opinion or had never heard of her, while 14% said they had a favorable opinion. The same poll found that 42% of independent voters said they had an unfavorable opinion of Cheney, while 48% of Democrats said they had a favorable opinion of her.

As for how the 2024 Republican primary might unfold, Trump and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis continue to lead the hypothetical pack.

“I think if she ran for president, I don’t think she would go anywhere. She would be the Evan McMullin of 2024,” Naughton said, referring to the former Republican who ran for president. running as an independent in the 2016 presidential election and currently running as an independent against Sen. Mike Lee (R) in Utah.

Yet even as large swaths of the GOP appear to have opposed her, some Republicans are more circumspect about whether Cheney might retain a place in the party.

“I don’t think we know the answer yet, and to some extent it depends on what happens in November and beyond,” Heye said.

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