Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., is going to need to tap into a political model of the former President Donald Trump she has rejected: Finding the silent, underrepresented voters who will back her at the polling booth, even if they do not speak out in favor of her publicly.
Breaking from Trump is what put Cheney's GOP primary hopes on the rocks as she tries to rebound from losing the role as House Republican Conference chair for the 2022 midterms.
"I support Liz Cheney, and I supported her position on Donald Trump – and I personally think that the silent majority in the state of Wyoming probably did support her, even though we're a very conservative state," retired voter Brad Graham told the Washington Examiner, one of a few in the capital city of Cheyenne to go on the record in support of the incumbent who faces the opposition of the Trump endorsement.
Cheney voted to impeach former President Trump after he left office, a fact not lost on vocal conservatives in the state.
"She's making this whole thing with Trump so personal," dental hygienist Mandy Peterson told the Times. "They're trying to impeach him because they don't want him to run again. So that kind of bothers me because I think what he did for the country, in part of the country, it's definitely beneficial with jobs."
A pipeline worker was far more convinced Cheney lacks GOP support in her state.
"Nobody likes her," Doug Kanda told the Times.
Cheney's sparring with Trump has left GOP voters rankled, like Peterson, who added she is "too emotional about things right now; I need someone that's got a clear head."
Polls tend to follow the people on the street views of Cheney. The Club for Growth PAC poll of 400 likely Wyoming GOP primary voters found 52% back Cheney's opposition, regardless who runs. Just 14% in that poll say they will support Cheney's reelection, while another 31% would weigh who the candidate is.
Trump's Save America PAC polling in January similarly found just 13% support Cheney regardless of who runs.
"I didn't particularly agree with what she did, but she had every right to do so," Tom, who refused to give his last name, told the Times.
The Times noted there are at least seven candidates saying they intend to challenge Cheney in a primary, include state Sen. Anthony Bouchard, state Rep. Chuck Gray, and businessman Darin Smith.
None of the more than a dozen Cheney opponents could name a single candidate vying to run against her, but the Times did find someone active in the Laramie County Democratic Party who is considering temporarily registering Republican to vote for Cheney in the primary.
"I don't really agree with her across the board on many issues, but I'm profoundly proud of her for speaking her mind," Kelly Wright told the Times.
Trump has vowed to back her opposition, but has not named any official endorsements in the state yet.
Cheney is the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, who served under former President George W. Bush, neither of whom are Trump backers.
Wyoming voters that spoke to the Times are noted Cheney failed in a 2014 Senate bid after moving back to the state.
"I just never liked her politics at all," David Edgar told the Times. "She's an outsider; she needs out."
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