Rep. Liz Cheney is in a familiar place: A whole bunch of her fellow Republicans are mad at her.
But this time, the fight will be more brutal than ever before.
She’s become a pariah to the faction of the party still loyal to Donald Trump for her vote to impeach him in January, with members of her own caucus pushing for her ouster. She also questioned Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic and criticized QAnon’s creep into the Republican Party.
But years before, she launched primary challenges, feuded with her family over gay marriage, and ruffled conservative feathers for some of her positions on how the US should handle terrorists.
Her profile rose this year when she stepped out in front of the moving Trump train and went as far as calling on fellow Republicans to stop embracing the former president. The House Democratic impeachment managers repeatedly quoted Cheney during last week’s Senate trial, throwing her words criticizing the ex-president right back at Senate Republicans who would go on to acquit him.
A person close to the congresswoman told Insider that when Cheney stepped into the breach, she prioritized her constitutional oath over partisanship.
But the heat from her colleagues came quickly. The Wyoming GOP censured the 54-year-old after she was one of 10 Republicans who voted to impeach Trump. And 61 of her colleagues recently voted — unsuccessfully — to remove her from leadership.
“There was a vacuum that needed to be filled, but there weren’t a lot of people that were willing to stand up and fill it,” said Doug Heye, a Republican communications strategist and veteran of the George W. Bush administration.
He added that he believed she was “strategically laying out a map, politically, for the future.”
Although the 2022 primary that will decide her electoral fate is a year and a half away, Cheney has already attracted a primary challenger, and Trump is plotting a revenge tour of the districts of the Republican members who voted to impeach him.
At the same time, Cheney’s public break with Republicans over the former president has made her the de facto face of the conservatives who think their future lies beyond Trump.
Former Rep. John Shimkus, an Illinois Republican, said Cheney and the nine GOP lawmakers who voted to impeach Trump were “very courageous … you don’t take a vote like that without knowing there’s going to be a price to be paid.
“Now they’re being singled out as traitors. And shame on my friends and my former colleagues who are doing that,” added Shimkus, who opted not to run for reelection in 2020 and was one of the first House Republicans to acknowledge Joe Biden’s victory.
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