As the news has reported, Rep. Liz Cheney (S-Wyo) has been voted out of her position as House Republican Conference Chair, publicly because her ongoing, escalating war of words with former President Trump has been deemed divisive and contrary to her responsibility as a member of the House’s GOP leadership.
It’s interesting that those ranking above her in the leadership have had a change of heart since the first time House Republicans voted on whether to remove her as Conference Chair. Other than her continued rancorous exchanges with Trump, what could have been happening behind the scenes to cause this turnaround?
One possible contributor is the continuing dissatisfaction with her Trump feud at home in Wyoming. Perhaps Leader McCarthy and Whip Scalise have become sufficiently unsure of Cheney’s chances of winning re-nomination in Wyoming’s Republican primary in 2022. Or perhaps pro-Trump campaign donors have made more intimidating noises than their anti-Trump counterparts, after Cheney’s pro-impeachment vote failed to produce consequences the first time around.
Whatever the reason, this vote undermines one of Cheney’s stronger arguments for re-nomination: Clout. Many a gone-swamper member of Congress has parlayed a lifelong career out of the Clout card, especially lifers elected from small-population states. Alaska’s late Senator Ted Stevens was one such, who completely redefined his role from representing the views of his fellow Alaskans in Washington, to serving as Washington’s spokesman to those backward Alaskans. It was agony watching him get re-elected time and again, despite his complete loss of touch with his constituents, because defeating him would mean losing Clout.
You can be sure Liz Cheney would have used that same argument against those who want her recalled from Washington in favor of some other Wyomingite more in step with their way of thinking. Being a third-termer already elevated to a prime leadership post should have made her untouchable. Maybe she simply misjudged how untouchable it could really make her in a changing party.
Interest in next year’s congressional campaign in Wyoming was already on the rise. This vote will do nothing to tamp it down.
(Title reference explained here.)