As Midterm Election Nears, Wyoming Republicans Take Their Message Nationwide
In media appearances and on the campaign trail, Harriet Hageman's policy preferences are coming into focus
- Published In: Politics
- Last Updated: Nov 05, 2022
Harriet Hageman's victory over Rep. Liz Cheney in the primary election catapulted her to conservative stardom. She recently campaigned for a Republican congressional candidate in Iowa even though she has yet to win her own seat. (Photo via Twitter/NunnForCongress)
By Jacob Gardenswartz
Special to the Wyoming Truth
With just three days until the Nov. 8 general election, Wyoming’s incumbent Congresswoman and the woman poised to replace her are back on the campaign trail for candidates outside the state, each emerging as a key voice in the intra-party battle over the future of the GOP.
Though Democrat Lynnette Grey Bull told the Wyoming Truth she’d “represent all Wyoming Citizens regardless of status, party, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation,” Harriet Hageman’s victory in the race for Wyoming’s sole seat in the U.S. House of Representatives is all but assured. During the primary election, she garnered over 113,000 votes compared to Grey Bull’s 4,500.
Now, Hageman has now taken her message to the Hawkeye State. Appearing at an Oct. rally in Polk County, Iowa, the attorney threw her support behind a Republican candidate taking on incumbent Rep. Cindy Axe, the lone Democrat representing Iowa in Washington, D.C.
Rep. Liz Cheney, meanwhile, has spent her final weeks in office campaigning against members of her own party, supporting Democratic candidates in Michigan and Arizona running against Republicans who have questioned the results of the 2020 election.
The dichotomy demonstrates just how influential the Wyoming Republicans have become, and signals that though their bitter primary battle may be over, neither intends to cede the spotlight anytime soon.
Hageman, Cheney emerge as campaign surrogates outside Wyoming
Hageman’s appearance at an Oct. 10 rally for GOP Congressional candidate and current state Sen. Zach Nunn in Clive, Iowa, was unique. With no formal ties to the state, some might wonder why Wyoming’s GOP nominee for the U.S. House seat, someone who’s never held public office, was there at all.
Yet beyond her support for MAGA-style politics, Hageman’s brand as the woman who ousted Cheney has catapulted her to conservative stardom. And she’s signaled she’s willing to use that popularity to help elect like-minded Republicans.
“Harriet Hageman fought back against the D.C. swamp and WON,” Republican Party of Iowa Chairman Jeff Kaufmann said in a statement ahead of Hageman’s campaign appearance. “That is exactly our goal here in Iowa.”
Hageman’s campaign appearances are about “who she beat as a means of popularity more than what she stands for,” echoed Casey Burgat, director of legislative affairs and a professor of political science at George Washington University in an interview with the Wyoming Truth.
During her remarks in Iowa, Hageman touted Nunn’s stances against President Joe Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan and other “radical” social and economic policies. “Zach, when you and I get to Congress, we’re going to work together on a couple of things,” she promised.
But while Hageman has embraced her role as conservative darling, Cheney seems to be leaning into her pariah status. On Oct. 27, she made her first-ever endorsement of a Democrat: Michigan Rep. Elissa Slotkin, the two-term Congresswoman facing a tough race against Republican State Sen. Tom Barrett, who repeatedly questioned the results of the 2020 election.
Slotkin is an “honorable public servant who works hard for the people she represents, wants what’s best for the country and is in this for the right reasons,” Cheney said in a statement shared by Slotkin’s campaign. “While Elissa and I have our policy disagreements, at a time when our nation is facing threats at home and abroad, we need serious, responsible, substantive members like Elissa in Congress.”
Hageman, meanwhile, followed suit by endorsing Barrett. “What I’ve read about Elissa [Slotkin is] that she has voted for over $10 trillion in additional spending, she has supported Joe Biden 100% of the time, and Nancy Pelosi 98% of the time. It just absolutely sickens me that Liz Cheney would be associated with her in any way whatsoever,” she told The Detroit News.
Cheney also waded into Arizona politics by speaking out against the Republican gubernatorial and secretary of state nominees Kari Lake and Mark Finchem, both of whom disputed the results of the 2020 election and have left open how they’d handle future election challenges.
“If you care about democracy, and you care about the survival of our Republic, then you need to understand, we all have to understand, that we cannot give people power who have told us that they will not honor elections,” Cheney said during a speech at Arizona State University in early Oct.
Most recently, Cheney’s anti-Trump “Great Task” PAC launched a $500,000 ad campaign targeting the Arizona GOP candidates. “I don’t know that I’ve ever voted for a Democrat,” Cheney says in the ad, “but if I lived in Arizona I absolutely would.”
Still, it remains an open question whether Cheney’s remarks will help or hurt the Democrats she is supporting. Shortly after the new ad went live, Lake thanked Cheney for the “anti-endorsement,” claiming campaign donations “skyrocket[ed]” as a result of Cheney’s opposition.
What would Congresswoman Hageman mean for Wyoming?
In media appearances and on the campaign trail, Hageman’s policy preferences have started to come into focus in recent weeks, offering hints as to actions she might take if — or when — she officially becomes the Congresswoman from Wyoming.
“When I get to Washington, I will join a new, solid, conservative Republican majority in the House – and hopefully in the Senate as well – to begin to right the ship and tell Joe Biden, the entire radical Left, and the unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats that we’re not going to stand for it anymore,” Hageman said in a statement to the Wyoming Truth.
But despite their differences over former President Trump and his “rigged election” rhetoric, Hageman’s voting record is likely to mirror that of her predecessor. Cheney, after all, voted with Trump 93 percent of the time while he was in office and held one of the most conservative voting records of any Congressperson.
Hageman is “going to vote the exact same way that the Congresswoman Cheney voted,” Burgat, the political science professor, argued. “There’s not a more conservative position to take — these are binary choices when it gets down to what’s voted on. There’s a liberal position and a conservative position. Whether it’s Cheney or her successor, they’re going to vote [for] that conservative position 100 percent of the time.”
Still, the issues Hageman will likely choose to prioritize are highly distinct. While in office, Cheney emerged as a leading conservative voice on foreign policy matters and pro-democracy efforts, serving on the House Armed Services Committee and as Vice Chair of the Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection.
Hageman, meanwhile, has a keen interest in energy policy, and has spoken out about her desire to serve on the Natural Resources Committee. She’s also claimed to have received a tentative offer to serve on the powerful Committee on Oversight and Reform, which oversees government agencies and officials. In that role, Hageman would have the power to press for investigations of Trump’s political enemies, something she’s already promised to do.
“We’re going to start investigating people like Hunter Biden,” Hageman said in Iowa, promising to also scrutinize “the people who raided Mar-a-Lago, and the people who pushed forward with the ‘Russia, Russia, Russia’ hoax, and all the other things that need to be looked into.” Hageman has similarly stated her intent to question Dr. Anthony Fauci, who shaped the federal government’s COVID-19 response.
Congressional leaders have cautioned that committee assignments are not formally offered to members until after the general election when the new Congress is sworn in.
Echoing other conservative figures, Hageman has also promised to push for changes to laws governing social media companies like Facebook and Twitter. In recent days, she spoke out about an incident in which she said she was informed that her Twitter account was being investigated by North Dakota State University researchers for a study on the use of “toxic language” online by political candidates. Though the researchers said hers was not the only account under investigation and promised their study was nonpartisan, Hageman was incensed.
“I’ll tell you what’s ‘toxic’ — trying to freeze free speech with ominous warnings that ‘we’re watching you’ from pointy-headed college professors and the leftist corporate media,” Hageman told Fox News.
Should Hageman win on Tuesday, perhaps the biggest change impacting Wyoming constituents will come in the decline of seniority from their new representative. Cheney, having served three terms in office, at one point worked as House Republican Conference Chair, the third-highest ranking member of the GOP. When she arrives in Washington, Hageman will be a freshman representative.
“The irony here is that by kicking [Cheney] out of the Republican Party and kicking her out of Congress entirely, Wyoming constituents will be in a worse off position in terms of receiving benefits of someone with a powerful position within the halls of power,” Burgat said.