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Expert says Cheney loss shows fractured GOP in Wyoming

Wyoming Primary.PNG
Posted at 9:37 PM, Aug 16, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-16 23:37:25-04

WYOMING — Harriett Hageman and Liz Cheney were the two names to watch in the Wyoming Republican primary on Aug. 16.

Hageman previously ran for governor of the Cowboy State in 2018 and lost in the primary. This time, around the numbers looked much more in her favor against incumbent Liz Cheney.

As Cheney became more outspoken against former President Donald Trump and his role in the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, Hageman's numbers began to soar.

"The influence of former President Trump on this race is interesting because former presidents don’t usually have this much pull.…. The fact that he can come in and make this much shift in Wyoming politics is kind of astounding," said Dr. Paul Pope, associate professor of political science at MSU Billings.

The Associated Press and other media outlets called the race for Hageman relatively early Tuesday night. While complete results likely won't be available for a few days, Hageman appeared to win by a large margin.

Cheney was one of 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump. In doing, she saw her disapproval rating rise from 26 percent to 72 percent.

Pope explained that primaries are usually where candidates who lean to the extreme of one side see the most success.

"The vast majority of voters, we’re talking three-quarters or more vote more in the middle and prefer more in the middle candidates and don’t like the extremes. The fact that we have all this extreme on the right and we don’t have as much on the left, might make it a stronger showing for Democrats in the future," added Pope.

As for Cheney's career moving forward, Pope thinks that she has lots of time left in the political arena, but this result signals a change in Wyoming politics.

"She’s not too deep in a political career, and she’s got enough name recognition that has a broad reach. She has name recognition on the left and the right. The Cheney name is an incredibly popular name in Wyoming politics for more than a generation, so the fact that this has changed is an amazing event in terms of politics in America. It’s an example of Wyoming moving towards the extreme right the way a handful of states and districts are doing right now. I think what we’re going to end up seeing is some very far right candidates getting on the ballot in November," said Pope.