116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Why should anyone in Linn County and Iowa care what happens in Wyoming tomorrow where Liz Cheney is running for re-election to the House? I think the compelling reasons are clear and simple. The vote tells us something about the Republican Party today. Can the party, fractured between Donald Trump loyalists and more traditional Republicans, venomous about each other, hang together in the fall or will it just hang?
Liz Cheney, once the capable daughter in a Wyoming political family, has become a household name far from Wyoming. She was exceptional enough to have been elected by her colleagues as Republican Conference chair quicker than anyone could have expected. Clearly dramatically smart, she has captured the attention of the nation with her work on the Jan. 6 committee.
In her last primary, she received 68.5 percent of the vote. Her closest opponent ended with 24.6 percent. A Cheney defeat tomorrow would require a mass defection by Trump loyalists to her opponent. In one poll, Cheney was 30 percentage points behind, though she has narrowed that some. No poll has had her ahead.
That she may be saved by her appeal to Democrats to re-register Republican for this primary is a possibility. County officials are whimpering about the extra work, registering Democrats as Republicans, and then re-registering them as Democrats for future elections. That may well be a Democratic cartwheel that saves Cheney. There has been a significant number of Democrats playing that game.
Cheney’s father, Dick, represented Wyoming in the House for 12 years and served two terms as vice president under George W. Bush. He is hardly a maverick with careless words about other Republicans, yet in a television ad this past week, he said, “In our nation’s 246-year history there has never been an individual who is a greater threat to our republic than Donald Trump. He tried to steal the election using lies and violence to keep himself in power rafter the voters had rejected him. He is a coward. A real man wouldn’t lie to his supporters. He lost his election and he lost big. I know he knows it and deep down most Republicans know it … when too many in our party are too scared to say so.”
The ad not only ran in Wyoming, but on Fox television, since all Republican TVs in Wyoming must be tuned there. Viewers in Iowa, who have seen it, don’t vote in Wyoming unless there is widespread voter fraud. But they do vote.
If Cheney does win, the Trumpsters will cry fraud. One county election official said of an anti-Cheney leader, “He blamed Dominion voting machines and Wyoming doesn’t even use them.”
What should Iowans look for in the election results? First, of course, did she win or was she close, either one an immense slap at Trump. How did she do in rural counties? Did the Trump vote dip there?
For Sen. Chuck Grassley, who wins or who loses may not be of much impact today, but it may be by Election Day. Trump loyalists, like those in Wyoming, are going to demand fealty. Iowans who heard Dick Cheney on Fox may demand some honesty.
Norman Sherman of Coralville has worked extensively in politics, including as Vice President Hubert Humphrey’s press secretary.