Trump wants Wyoming lawmakers to change their election laws to block Liz Cheney from receiving crossover votes in the state’s GOP primary
John L. Dorman – February 19, 2022
- Trump on Thursday backed a Wyoming proposal that would end crossover voting in state primaries.
- The bill would cut off potential support for Rep. Liz Cheney, who has fallen out of favor with many Republicans.
- The measure would bar non-Republicans from requesting a GOP ballot and voting in another party’s primary.
Former President Donald Trump is pushing Wyoming lawmakers to back legislation that would bar Democrats and other non-Republicans from casting ballots in statewide GOP primaries, in a move widely seen as a way to sink Rep. Liz Cheney’s prospects for renomination by the party.
Cheney — who has clashed with Trump over his debunked election claims and the January 6 insurrection at the US Capitol — is set to face water rights attorney Harriet Hageman in a Republican primary in August.
The proposed legislation, known as SF0097 — which was introduced by Wyoming state Sen. Bo Biteman — would prevent Democrats, Republicans, and independents from switching their party affiliation on the day of the primary election to vote in another party’s primary.
On Thursday, Trump applauded the legislation through his spokesperson, Liz Harrington.
“This critically important bill ensures that the voters in each party will separately choose their nominees for the General Election, which is how it should be!” the former president said in a statement released on Twitter.
He continued: “It makes total sense that only Democrats vote in the Democrat primary and only Republicans vote in the Republican primary. This bill has my Complete and Total Endorsement and Support.”
Politico on Thursday reported that several of Trump’s political associates were privately advocating for passage of the bill, with several state Republicans pushing for the change to ensure that Democrats don’t switch parties to support Cheney in the GOP primary.
Hageman, one of several Republican primary challengers to Cheney, represents the congresswoman’s highest-profile challenge, as she has been endorsed by the former president and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California.
Trump and David McIntosh — a former Indiana congressman who now leads the conservative Club for Growth — both called Republican Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon in recent weeks in a bid to get his support for the bill, according to two individuals with knowledge of the situation who spoke with Politico.
Michael Perlman, the communications director for Gordon, told the outlet that while Gordon has had conversations about the bill, the governor was not being pressured to make changes.
“The Governor has had many conversations about this issue, including with President Trump and David McIntosh, however characterizing that as ‘pressure’ would be incorrect,” he said. “Governor Gordon is going to do what’s best for Wyoming and he respects the legislative process.”
Cheney has become a polarizing figure among state Republicans
The former president’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., tweeted in support of the proposal on Thursday, telling voters in the Equality State to “pay attention” to the issue. And Matt Schlapp, the American Conservative Union chairman who has close ties to Trump, tweeted that his organization might use support of the bill in scoring legislators.
“There was a big push this morning to get all of our MAGA influencers to push it and make a big deal out of it,” a GOP operative told Politico.
Last year, Wyoming legislators rejected a bill backed by Trump Jr. that would have mandated that candidates running in primaries receive a majority of the vote to avoid primary runoff elections.
When Cheney sought the GOP House nomination in 2016, she won with 39% of the vote in a multicandidate primary before cruising to an easy win in the general election. However, if a runoff election law had been in place at the time, the runner-up in the GOP primary could potentially have consolidated a majority of the vote in a second contest and defeated Cheney.
While speaking with The New York Times earlier this month, Cheney insisted that she would not ask Democrats to vote in the Republican primary to support her candidacy, despite her flagging popularity among base voters.
According to The Times, only 31% of Wyoming Republicans had a favorable opinion of Cheney in a recent private poll, compared to 60% who viewed her unfavorably.
The congresswoman has deep roots in the state, as her widespread name recognition is inextricably linked to that of her father, former Vice President Dick Cheney.
However, she has forged a polarizing legacy as a result of her criticism of Trump.
Cheney quickly ascended the GOP leadership ladder, becoming the House Republican Conference Chair only two years after joining the lower chamber. She was a reliable supporter of Trump’s agenda for the vast majority of his tenure in the White House.
That changed after January 6; she harshly criticized the former president’s response to the riot and his continued claims of a stolen election, eventually voting to impeach him for for incitement of insurrection.
After being stripped of her leadership position, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California tapped Cheney to serve as the vice chair of the January 6 select committee, which has continued to probe the riot in the face of deep opposition from Trump and most congressional Republicans.