Weeks after Rep. Liz Cheney’s blowout loss to her Donald Trump-endorsed challenger, the Wyoming Republican Party is still using the right’s deep animus toward the congresswoman to raise money.
Over the last two days of August, the state party — which has been at odds with Cheney since she voted to impeach Trump — sent identical emails seeking money from donors.
“Liz Cheney spent the last two years obsessed with destroying our Republican values that she completely abandoned representing us and doing what’s best for Wyoming,” the email states.
“We need your support now more than ever so we can effectively push back against Cheney and her Democrat allies,” it ends in bold and underlined text.
Wyoming Republicans sent out a similar text on the last day of August.
“Hi, it’s Kathy Russell from WYGOP. Liz Cheney is continuing her assault on freedom-fighting Republicans,” it began. “Donate $5 before our Aug. fundraising deadline to help us secure our Republican majority this November and put an end to her attacks!”
The text ended with a link to donate.
Russell, executive director of the party, did not respond to request for comment. Wyoming National Committeeman Corey Steinmetz declined to answer questions.
But Diemer True, who served two terms as state GOP chairman and more than 50 years in Wyoming Republican politics, called the strategy “unprecedented.” Until new leadership came into power in the last five years, the state party has historically not weighed in on any Republican candidates.
“Obviously Liz is very unpopular with the Republican base in the state. I mean, look at the overwhelming loss that she incurred,” True said. “If you’re a crass political fundraising type, it’s probably a good strategy in order to raise funds, but it’s very disappointing.”
Cheney lost to natural resources attorney Harriet Hageman in the Republican primary by over 37 points.
The state party’s fundraising strategy is not new. In late July, the state party sent out a similar plea that took aim at Cheney and her “cronies.”
“It drives them nuts that we are the reddest Republican stronghold in the United States and they will stop at NOTHING, including recruiting Democrats to pose as Republicans during the primary, to turn our state into a progressive hellhole,” the email reads. “Cheney intends to recreate the Republican Party in her woke image.”
Cheney appealed to Democrats in the late stages of her campaign by sending out mailers with instructions on how to change their party affiliation so they could vote in the Republican primary.
The same July email then goes on to ask for money from recipients.
“There has never been a better time to fight back! We are facing a crucial July fundraising deadline before the August primary. We need your help! Chip in to help defend our Red State Status!”
It’s unclear exactly how the money raised through the ads is being spent. However, there is a provision in Wyoming law (22-25-104) that says a state party may not expend funds “directly or indirectly in the aid of the nomination of any one person as against another person of the same political party running in the primary election.”
Cheney angered Wyoming’s right wing following the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, when she was one of 10 House Republicans to vote to impeach the former president. A month later, the Wyoming GOP censured her.
Cheney’s adversaries did not stop there — in November, Wyoming Republican leaders voted to symbolically no longer recognize Cheney as a member of their party.
Wyoming GOP Chairman Frank Eathorne helped to guide the opposition to Cheney, leading efforts to censure her at the state and national level — something Trump noted while lauding the Converse County rancher.
“Frank has censured the incompetent Liz Cheney!” Trump announced in a 2021 statement. “Frank has my complete and total endorsement for his reelection. He will never let you down!”
(The state party chairman is not elected by the public, but rather a group of county Republican party members.)
When Trump decided to headline a Casper rally for Hageman this spring, Eathorne said Trump called him personally with the news. Eathorne, a longtime Hageman friend and party ally, then informed the state central committee.
Cheney has been highly critical of Eathorne, noting his ties to the Oath Keepers and appearance near the Capitol on Jan. 6. (Eathorne says he is only a passive member of the militant right-wing organization.)
“[Eathorne’s] views and his actions make a mockery of the rule of law, the Constitution, and the values on which the Republican Party, the state of Wyoming, and our great nation were founded,” she told the Star-Tribune and WyoFile earlier this year.
Eathorne did not respond to request for comment.
The state GOP has become increasingly divided over the past decade between traditional Republicans and Republicans who take a more hard-line view. That split predates Trump, but has become more dramatic in recent years.
“The noise, the anger— that’s really new,” True said.
And with the continued Cheney-bashing, the longtime politico thinks the fissures will just grow deeper.
“They’re fanning the flames on dividing the party further,” he said.
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