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Wake Up To Politics - August 17, 2022

Wake Up To Politics: Cheney 2024?
Wake Up To Politics - August 17, 2022

by Gabe Fleisher

Good morning! It’s Wednesday, August 17, 2022. Election Day 2022 is 83 days away. Election Day 2024 is 811 days away.

After primary loss, Liz Cheney looks ahead to 2024

As expected, Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney — the Republican Party’s foremost critic of former President Donald Trump — was defeated by a primary challenge on Tuesday, putting an end to her three-term congressional career. It wasn’t a close race.

With more than 95% of the vote reporting, Cheney’s Trump-backed rival, Harriett Hageman, currently has 66.3% of the vote to the incumbent’s 28.9%. That means Hageman won more than double the Wyoming Republican primary support of Cheney, the scion of a storied Wyoming Republican family.

Cheney’s significant local connections and family background were not enough to overwhelm the one issue that defined the primary race: fealty to Trump and support for his fictions that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from him.

“Two years ago, I won this primary with 73% of the vote,” Cheney said in her defiant concession speech. “I could easily have done the same again. The path was clear. But it would've required that I go along with President Trump's lie about the 2020 election... That was a path I could not and would not take.”

Liz Cheney conceded defeat on Tuesday. (Cheney’s office)

Trump and his allies celebrated the outcome. As his spokesman posted a video of the former president dancing, Trump wrote on Truth Social that Tuesday’s primary was a “wonderful result for America, and a complete rebuke of the Unselect Committee of political Hacks and Thugs.”

In her victory speech, Hageman proclaimed that “Wyoming has put the elites on notice: we are no longer going to tolerate representatives who don’t represent us.” (In Tuesday’s newsletter, I chronicled Cheney’s political evolution, but Hageman has had a notable one as well. During the 2016 Republican convention, she called Trump “racist and xenophobic” and tried to block him from winning the GOP presidential nomination.)

Bounced out of the only elected office she has ever held, Cheney is not expected to disappear from the political square. In fact, her entire concession speech — and subsequent media tour this morning — has been seemingly framed around fanning speculation about the soon-to-be former congresswoman launching a presidential bid in 2024.

“The great and original champion of our party, Abraham Lincoln, was defeated in elections for the Senate and the House before he won the most important election of all,” Cheney said, appearing to compare herself to one of the most admired leaders in presidential history.

She did not announce a White House bid right then and there, but Cheney did add that she will do “whatever it takes to ensure Donald Trump is never again anywhere near the Oval Office.” In an interview on the “Today” show this morning, Cheney admitted that she was “thinking about” running for president and said she would make her decision “in the coming months.”

Within hours of her primary defeat, Cheney filed papers to create a leadership PAC, a common move for budding presidential aspirants. The new organization will be called “The Great Task,” another nod to Lincoln: the line appears in his famed Gettysburg Address.

Harriet Hageman declaring victory in the GOP primary. (Tim Murtaugh)

Two years is a lifetime in American politics, of course, but it is very difficult right now to see any sort of path to the presidency for Cheney.

A Politico/Morning Consult poll from last week pegged Cheney’s support in a hypothetical 2024 Republican presidential primary at all of 2%, far behind Trump (56%), Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (18%), and former Vice President Mike Pence (8%).

She was tied with Utah Sen. Mitt Romney, former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.

And if you’re wondering whether the recent revelations that Trump is being investigated for his handling of classified documents might impact his GOP support, that poll was conducted entirely after the FBI’s search of Mar-a-Lago was public knowledge.

The law enforcement raid only served to help Trump among Republican primary voters, lifting his support from 53% in July to 56% now. In fact, Trump’s 2024 GOP support was the highest it had been in any Morning Consult poll since 2020; in the same poll, 69% of Republicans said the FBI’s activity at Mar-a-Lago was politically motivated.

A theoretical independent presidential bid by Cheney wouldn’t be likely to fare much better than a Republican primary run. Considering her anemic support among the Republican base (remember: 2%), it’s hard to imagine her taking many GOP votes from Trump.

On the other hand, if she were to drain President Biden’s support among independents and moderate Democrats and Republicans, a Cheney third-party run could merely serve to bring about the result she claims to fear most: another four years of Donald Trump in the White House.

More news you should know

Alaska results: The 49th state also held primary elections on Tuesday, but the results are far more hazy. With 69% of the vote reporting, Republican incumbent Lisa Murkowski is currently leading the all-party Senate primary with 43.7% of the vote. Close behind her is Trump’s favored candidate, Kelly Tshibaka, with 40.4%.

Both Murkowski and Tshibaka are guaranteed spots in the general election, along with the other two top vote-getters, who have yet to be declared because more votes must be tabulated. The four finalists will then compete in a ranked-choice election in November, where Murkowski might have an advantage because of her support among Democrats and independents

Meanwhile, in the special House election, Democrat Mary Peltola is currently in the lead with 37.8% of the vote, followed by Republicans Sarah Palin and Nick Begich, with 32.1% and 28.6%, respectively.

However, more than 30% of the vote has to be tabulated there too — and the race is also being governed by ranked-choice voting, so this tally only reflects partial results from the first round. After all of the first-round votes are counted, if no candidate has majority support, the candidate in last place will be eliminated and each of their supporters will have their vote transferred to whomever they ranked second. The winner of the race will not be known until at least August 31.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski is set to advance to the November election. (F. Julian Carroll)

Trump investigations: Former President Trump is rushing to hire a seasoned lawyer to represent him in the Justice Department’s investigation of his handling of classified documents, but a string of veteran attorneys have told him “no,” the Washington Post reports.

Meanwhile, per the New York Times, former White House lawyers Pat Cipollone and Patrick Philbin were interviewed as part of the probe, the most senior Trump aides known to have spoken to investigators in this matter.

At the White House: President Biden took a quick break from his vacation Tuesday to sign the Inflation Reduction Act into law.

The sweeping package is set to invest $370 billion in combatting climate change, allow the federal government to negotiate some prescription drug prices, extend enhanced Obamacare subsidies, cap seniors’ out-of-pocked drug costs, increase taxes on large corporations, beef up IRS tax enforcement, and put aside about $300 billion towards reducing the deficit.

Presidents Obama and Biden celebrate the bill signing. (Screengrab)

What’s going on in Washington today

All times Eastern.

President Joe Biden is on vacation at his home in Delaware. He has nothing on his public schedule.

Vice President Kamala Harris has nothing on her public schedule.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre does not have a press briefing scheduled.

The Senate is on recess until September 6.

The House is on recess until September 13.

The Supreme Court is on recess until October 3.

Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani will testify today before a special grand jury empaneled in Georgia to investigate efforts to overturn the state’s 2020 election results. Giuliani was recently informed that he is a target of the investigation.

That’s it for today. If you enjoy Wake Up To Politics, it’s always appreciated if you donate to support the newsletter or buy some merch. Or if you tell your friends and family to sign up at wakeuptopolitics.com.

If you have any questions or feedback, feel free to email me: my inbox is always open.

Thanks for waking up to politics! Have a great day.

— Gabe