CHEYENNE — The Wyoming Republican Party issued a statement highlighting an outpouring of opposition from its members in response to U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., voting to impeach President Donald Trump on Wednesday for his role in the U.S. Capitol riot that occurred a week earlier.
The party issued the statement late Wednesday night, a few hours after Cheney joined nine other Republican representatives in voting to impeach Trump for his role in inciting the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, making him the first president to be impeached twice.
“The wind in Wyoming has been horrendous today – with gusts up to 65 miles per hour,” the statement begins. “That is nothing compared to the whirlwind created by Representative Cheney’s announcement that she would be voting to impeach President Trump and her subsequent follow-through of doing just that.
“There has not been a time during our tenure when we have seen this type of an outcry from our fellow Republicans, with the anger and frustration being palpable in the comments we have received. Our telephone has not stopped ringing, our email is filling up, and our website has seen more traffic than at any previous time,” the statement continues. “The consensus is clear that those who are reaching out to the Party vehemently disagree with Representative Cheney’s decision and actions.”
It is unclear whether the party received comments in favor of Cheney’s vote, as well. Requests for additional comment from Wyoming GOP Chairman Frank Eathorne had not been returned by press time Thursday.
In a call with Wyoming reporters Wednesday, Cheney said the pro-Trump riot at the Capitol “was an attack on the very heart of our republic,” leaving her with no option but to impeach.
“I will continue to talk to and hear from my constituents all over Wyoming … but when it came down to it, the president of the United States inciting a mob to attack the Capitol and interrupt the democratic process, and then, while the violence played out, refusing to take steps to stop it, is, in my mind, absolutely high crimes and misdemeanors,” Cheney said. “There’s just simply no question, and so this was a vote that did not have anything to do with party or with politics.”
In a bulleted list detailing “the nature of the comments and outcry we have received,” the Wyoming Republican Party outlined several criticisms of Cheney, including that she denied Trump due process through her vote, that she “aligned herself with leftists,” and that she was helping Democrats “smear the entire conservative movement and all Republicans.”
“We, as a Party, respect our elected officials and assume that they will respect and represent their constituents,” the statement concludes. “We are receiving the message loud and clear that what happened yesterday is a true travesty for Wyoming and the country.”
The party’s online post drew mixed responses in the comments section, though local opposition to Cheney’s decision had already emerged the day before. After being posted Tuesday night, a Change.org petition titled “Recall Liz Cheney” had gained more than 22,000 signatures by Thursday afternoon.
However, despite the pushback, Cheney’s prospects against any 2022 primary challenger remain strong, according to University of Wyoming political science professor Jim King.
“She’s made contacts across the state, and that network doesn’t go away,” King said in an interview Thursday. “Any elected official relies on the people who aren’t party activists to be elected. … It’s the people who identify with the Republican Party that aren’t involved in Republican politics. They don’t join the party. They don’t attend party events. They don’t go out and campaign. They just go vote.”
“Those are the people that any elected official really relies on, and those people are not going to be influenced by whether the Republican Party of Wyoming put out a statement disagreeing with a decision she made,” he continued.
Regardless of her decision Wednesday, Cheney would face a right-wing primary challenger in the 2022 election, King said. However, he noted Cheney, who first won her House seat in 2016, has a strongly conservative voting record in Congress, in line with the state’s other federal delegates in recent years.
King acknowledged the Wyoming Republican Party has been “more assertive” as an organization in pushing its agenda in recent years, but he was skeptical of any lasting effects of Cheney’s impeachment vote.
“It’s a situation where the party right now is a bit more energized, but I don’t think that’s going to translate 18 months from now into anything that really damages Rep. Cheney’s career,” King said.