House Republican Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has endorsed the primary opponent of Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) in a history-making move in advance of this year’s crucial midterm elections.
McCarthy announced Thursday that he is supporting Wyoming Attorney Harriet Hageman for the Republican nomination against the never-Trumper Cheney. He told The Federalist that it is “readily apparent” that Hageman will be responsive to the needs of her constituents and will focus on “tackling our nation’s biggest problems.” He added that he looks forward to serving with Hageman “for years to come.”
McCarthy’s endorsement of Cheney’s top primary challenger follows years of attacks by Cheney against fellow Republicans and her voters. Cheney was removed from her role as the third-ranking House Republican last May by a landslide vote. After that censured by the Wyoming GOP, the state party voted to no longer recognize her as a Republican. The RNC asked Wyoming Republicans to no longer vote for her through a vote to formally censure her earlier this month.
McCarthy met with Hageman last month to discuss her candidacy. She told him that she is interested in serving on the Natural Resources Committee because of its importance to Wyoming voters and the public lands. Cheney previously served on that committee but had asked for assignments more in tune with her political interests in Washington in recent years.
Cheney also caused concern among party leadership when she endorsed the primary opponent of Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) in 2020. The candidate she donated to and endorsed received only 19 percent of the vote against Massie. She tried to explain her opposition to a sitting Republican as a “special case.”
Cheney’s appeal to progressive, never-Trumper and leftist politicians has helped her raise more than $7 million to date for this year’s cycle. That is more than double the amount she raised in the last two election cycles combined.
Hageman has meanwhile also received the endorsement of President Donald Trump. Her powerful endorsements will give Hageman a solid opportunity to raise campaign funds to compete with Cheney’s well-heeled supporters.
Recent polls indicate Cheney is in trouble in the state President Trump carried by the widest margin nationwide in 2020. Cheney has failed to poll higher than 29 percent in any poll among likely voters this year.