The situation must be desperate for her to resort to this.
Wait, why am I saying “must be”? The situation is desperate. We know that for a fact.
The NYT interviewed her in February and brought up the fact that her home state of Wyoming allows members of one party to re-register as members of the other on primary day and then to cast a ballot in their new party’s primary. Team Trump had quietly lobbied Wyoming legislators to change that rule, fearing that Cheney might get a huge crossover vote from Democrats that rescued her from a drubbing and returned her to Congress. A bill was drafted — but it never passed. Wyoming Dems remain free to vote in the GOP primary.
But Cheney told the Times that she wasn’t interested. “That is not something that I have contemplated, that I have organized or that I will organize,” she said when asked if she’d encourage Democrats to switch and support her.
Four months later, here we are.
— Reid J. Epstein (@reidepstein) June 23, 2022
This passage also appears on her campaign website:
I don’t get it. I mean, I get it, I just don’t get why she thinks the benefit of doing this outweighs the cost.
It’s true that there are Dems in Wyoming who want to vote for Cheney. The progressive group Stand Up America recently conducted a survey of members and asked them which politicians inspired them. A common answer: Liz Cheney, whom one described as “the only light in an otherwise pitch-dark Republican cellar.” The head of the group told the Guardian, “Would I also like Liz Cheney to support the John Lewis Voting Rights Act and the Freedom to Vote Act? Yes, I absolutely would. But I give her a tremendous amount of credit right now for the courage that she is showing, in trying to protect the very fact that our system of government is a democracy.”
It’s not that unusual for Wyoming Republicans to nudge Democrats there to support them in the GOP primary. The current Republican governor successfully did so in his last primary, notes the Times. The state is so lopsidedly conservative that Dem voters are better off trying to influence its direction by intervening in the other party’s primary than trying to elect one of their own in November.
In fact, crossing over to support moderates in elections dominated by Republican voters has become something of a trend for Democrats this year. They did it in Georgia’s primary, where they may have been the difference in Brad Raffensperger’s shocking victory in the secretary of state race without needing a runoff. They did it in Madison Cawthorn’s primary, where they may have provided the margin to send him home after a single term in Congress. They’re planning to do it in Utah’s general election, with the state party declining to nominate a candidate for Senate in hopes that Dems will back anti-Trump Republican Evan McMullin over Mike Lee. They’re doing it in Lauren Boebert’s primary in Colorado too:
Driven by fears of extremism and worries about what they see as an authoritarianism embodied in Ms. Boebert, thousands of Democrats in the sprawling third congressional district of Colorado have rushed to shore up her Republican challenger, State Senator Don Coram. Their aim is not to do what is best for Democrats but to do what they think is best for democracy…
“The center has got to re-emerge,” said Tom Morrison, a lifelong Democrat in rural Pitkin County who voted for Mr. Coram, not only in protest of Ms. Boebert but also of what he calls a rising concern about his party’s leftward drift…
Above all, many Democrats and Republicans say, the vast district needs help, and Ms. Boebert shows no inclination to take her job seriously. The San Luis Valley in the south is parched by drought. The Colorado River is at a low ebb. Income inequality between Aspen and Telluride and the struggling areas nearby has exacerbated housing prices and labor shortages.
I doubt there are enough Dems in her district willing to cross over to knock off Boebert, but they’ve got the right idea. If it can happen there, it can happen in Wyoming too, right?
Well, no. Wyoming is the reddest state in the country, which means Cheney has an insuperable math problem. Even if she turned out every registered Democrat in the state in the GOP primary, she’d still need considerable Republican support to put together a winning coalition. And she won’t turn out anything remotely approaching every Democrat in the state, needless to say. If anything, turnout among anti-Cheney Republicans should be especially high thanks to Trump’s hands-on intervention in the race, drawing voters’ attention to it.
So, the question: If Cheney is doomed, and she is, why make it easier for her Republican detractors to call her a RINO or a Democrat by publicly lobbying Democratic voters for their votes? One of her strongest retorts to her critics is the fact that she votes more conservatively than practically anyone in the House GOP caucus, certainly far more so than her successor in leadership, Elise Stefanik. Asking Wyoming Dems for their support creates a retort to that retort: “If she wins, she’ll be beholden to Pelosi and her party. Who knows how she’ll vote in the next Congress?”
I thought the whole point of her insisting on running as a Republican in the primary rather than as an independent in the general election was to refuse to concede the premise of MAGA trolls that she’s any less of a Republican just because she insists on holding Trump accountable for the “stop the steal” nightmare. By trying to woo Democrats, she’s handing those trolls a rhetorical bludgeon. And for what? So that she can lose 65/35 instead of 75/25? She should have kept her GOP credentials pristine — especially if she’s thinking of challenging Trump as a dark-horse nominee for the party’s presidential nomination in 2024.
I’ll leave you with this. Was this a bit of candy for her new supporters? I suspect it had more to do with defending the SecDef’s institutional prerogatives.
Liz Cheney sided with Armed Services Democrats to kill a GOP amendment that would’ve forced Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to rescind the covid vaccine mandate for the military or repeal his waiver to serve.
The vote was 27-32. (One off party-line.) #FY23NDAA
— Connor O’Brien (@connorobrienNH) June 22, 2022