Liz Cheney's primary loss signals trouble for traditional conservatism | GARY COSBY JR.

Gary Cosby Jr.

Liz Cheney, the most prominent and outspoken critic of former President Donald Trump in the Republican Party, has lost her primary election in Wyoming. It was not a surprise. Wyoming is a heavily pro-Trump state and most election watchers had predicted her loss.

Trump-endorsed candidate Harriet Hageman won in a landslide, claiming victory with 66.3 percent of the vote to Cheney's 28.9 percent. That's an old-fashioned woodshed moment. Seldom does an incumbent lose by such a large margin.

Cheney, who is the co-chair of the Jan. 6 committee, has taken the most prominent stand among Republicans against Trump's actions, which were intended to overturn the election he lost to Joe Biden. As the Jan. 6 testimonies have shown, the effort was known as a lie within the White House and yet it was carried through anyway with the end result being the near demolition of the American democracy.

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In her comments after conceding the election to Hageman, Cheney said she was well aware that her stand against Trump, whose popularity within the Republican Party has remained high, would cost her politically. She was right, but she was also right in taking her stand with the side of truth and justice.

When Cheney won the primary in Wyoming two years ago, she had about the same percentage of the vote as did Hageman in this election and, had she decided to go along with Trump, would have very likely been reelected. In fact, Cheney had supported almost all of Trump's agenda throughout his presidency, but the election fraud lie was her line in the sand.

"It would have required that I go along with President Trump's lie about the 2020 election. It would have required that I enable his ongoing efforts to unravel our democratic system and attack the foundations of our republic. That is a path I could not and would not take," Cheney said in comments made in the immediate aftermath of her primary loss.

I already admired her for the stand she took by being part of the Jan. 6 investigation. I am far more impressed with her now. I have almost always voted Republican, but this election fiction, which Trump started promoting long before the first vote was even cast, was such a bald-faced lie from the outset I knew there was no way I would ever support it or him.

And the more Cheney has done and said, the greater my respect for her has grown. While I didn't have much love for Trump before Jan. 6, after the event, any respect I did have was completely gone. Trump is an oath breaker, a liar, and a traitor to this nation and its foundational principles. What he did undermines the entire electoral process, and he did it for no reason other than his ego. His actions nearly destroyed our nation, and his actions cost lives. What Trump did was and is utterly and completely despicable.

U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney says her new political action committee will target U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, who she said “took steps that fundamentally threatened the constitutional order and structure in the aftermath of the last election.”

Cheney said she well understood the consequences of making her stand. That she valued electoral integrity over her own political career is the exact opposite of what Trump did and, apparently, who he is.

"No House seat, no office in this land, is more important than the principles we are all sworn to protect," Cheney said.

I have no idea if Cheney has that kind of commitment to all of her values, but I certainly agree with her 100 percent on this one. Her comment is the core value upon which the electoral process in this country stands. No man or woman is more important than the nation or any office therein. In fact, integrity demands that when an election is held that the candidates abide by the will of the voters. If they do not, democracy falls. Cheney recognized and stood by that principle, even when it cost her an election.

"Our republic relies upon the good will of the candidates for each office to accept honorably the outcome of elections," Cheney said.

What remains to be seen is how this all plays out in two years. Trump-endorsed candidates have done well in their primary elections, and his in-party opponents have lost most of their races. Of the 10 House members who voted to impeach Trump, eight of them either retired or lost their primary elections. This could signal a final and complete shift away from traditional conservative values and into Trump-espoused populism.

Republican voters seem to be embracing that move, at least for now. Whether or not the nation as a whole will embrace it will not be known until the next presidential election cycle. The soul of the conservative party is now hanging in the balance. It appears that balance is imperiled, and the party has taken the dangerous swing into a more radical approach to governing, which, combined with the Democratic Party's increasingly socialistic tendencies, threatens the foundation of our democracy.

Gary Cosby Jr. is the photo editor of The Tuscaloosa News. Readers can email him at

This article originally appeared on The Tuscaloosa News: Is Liz Cheney's primary loss a bad omen for Republicans?