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Top GOP lawmaker Liz Cheney gets first primary challenger after voting to impeach Trump

Cheney: Trump attack on congresswomen "isn't about race"
Liz Cheney says Trump's attack on congresswomen "isn't about race" 06:10

Wyoming Congresswoman Liz Cheney, the third highest-ranked Republican in the House, has drawn a primary challenge just one week after she voted to impeach former President Trump over the insurrection at the Capitol on January 6.

State Senator Anthony Bouchard announced his campaign against Cheney on Wednesday, noting Mr. Trump's large victory margins in the state and suggesting Cheney's "long-time opposition" to Mr. Trump and her impeachment vote show "just how out-of-touch she is with Wyoming."

"Wyoming taxpayers need a voice in Congress who will stand up to Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats, and not give them cover. That's why I'm running for Congress," Bouchard said in a statement announcing his campaign.

Cheney, who was one of just 10 Republicans in the House to vote to impeach Mr. Trump, explained her decision in a blistering statement.

"[T]he President of the United States summoned this mob, assembled the mob, and lit the flame of this attack," Cheney said of Mr. Trump's remarks to a D.C. rally before his supporters stormed the Capitol. "Everything that followed was his doing."

"There has never been a greater betrayal by a President of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution," Cheney said.

In 2016, Cheney filled now-Senator Cynthia Loomis' open House seat in 2016, winning her primary by about 18 points. Since then, she has won her Republican primaries by at least 46 points, with her closest general election race still a 33-point margin. 

Bouchard has been a state Senator since 2017. In various Facebook posts, he's pushed the debunked theory that antifa took part in the attacks on the Capitol. He's also expressed admiration for newly elected Georgia Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Republican who has backed QAnon conspiracy theories and made racist remarks. Bouchard wrote in one post, "If only WY had representation in Congress—like U.S. House Representative Greene. Instead we have a Turncoat-Cheney."

House Republicans have slammed Cheney, the GOP caucus conference chair and daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, for being the most prominent voice in the House to vote for Trump's second impeachment. Ohio Congressman Jim Jordan, a staunch Trump ally, said last Wednesday that Cheney's support for impeachment is "totally wrong."

He argued that Cheney should be ousted by Republicans from her leadership post.

After her vote to impeach, the Wyoming Republican Party said there's been an outcry from fellow Republicans about her decision. "Our telephone has not stopped ringing, our email is filling up, and our website has seen more traffic than at any previous time," it said.

Mr. Trump won the state with close to 70% of the vote in 2016 and 2020.

Even before her latest impeachment vote, Cheney faced blowback from within the caucus and calls for her to resign from her leadership role because of repeated breaks with Mr. Trump. 

Another one of the 10 Republicans to vote for impeachment,

freshman Republican Peter Meijer of Michigan's 3rd District, has also already picked up a primary challenger for 2022 from veteran and businessman Tom Norton. Norton previously ran against Meijer in the open seat for Justin Amash's seat in 2020, and placed third in the Republican primary.

Kimberly Brown and Adam Brewster contributed reporting.

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