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After losing leadership role, Liz Cheney faces fight for her seat in Congress

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After being stripped of her post as Republican conference chair, Representative Liz Cheney is facing a battle in Wyoming to keep her seat in Congress. Wyoming Public Radio news director Bob Beck joins "Red and Blue" anchor Elaine Quijano with more on how local residents are reacting and the other Republicans hoping to challenge Cheney in her home state.

Video Transcript

ELAINE QUIJANO: While Wyoming Congresswoman Liz Cheney deals with a political setback in DC, she's also facing a fight back home to hold onto her seat. It's a significant reversal of fortune for the three-term Congresswoman, once viewed as a potential House Speaker. A number of Republicans have already filed to challenges her in Wyoming, a state with only one congressional representative.

She also faces a potential threat from former President Trump, whose allies are reportedly recruiting potential challengers. Mr. Trump bested President Biden by 30 points there in the 2020 election. For more, let's bring in Wyoming Public Radio's news director, Bob Beck, joining us from Laramie, Wyoming. Bob is also the co-host and producer of WPR's "Open Spaces."

Bob, welcome. It's great to have you on the program. So give us a sense of the political landscape there. Congresswoman Cheney's popularity took a hit in Wyoming after voting to impeach former President Trump. Where do things stand for her now?

BOB BECK: I don't know that things have changed with today's vote, but she had lost quite a bit of popularity at the time she voted to impeach President Trump. That did not sit well with our Republican leaders and I think with many of the Republicans across the state. However, I will say that this recent event may have actually helped her out a little bit. People have appreciated her stance, sticking to her guns on this.

And there are a lot of people that honestly thought some pushback on the president, especially lately when it comes to the election instances and those types of things, the interaction, that they were-- you know, that was very strong willed by her and maybe a statement needed to be made by some Republicans.

ELAINE QUIJANO: Well, the Cheney name, of course, has high recognition in Wyoming. Is that a positive or negative for the congresswoman? And where does she still enjoy political support?

BOB BECK: She enjoys support certainly in the energy industry, the oil and gas industry. She's done a lot in the area of coal to try and help that. She's been very big on multiple use issues in the state and even has worked very hard on a number of other things, ranging from education to health care, talking with some health care officials, in fact, today, on, you know, different things that can be done with the ACA, and they've had some very good interactions. So that's been a-- I think, a positive-- a feather in her cap as well.

You know, she's-- she's good at visiting with people one on one and trying to meet the needs of Wyomingites. And I think she's grown in-- grown in the chair, I think, over the last couple of terms that she's been in.

ELAINE QUIJANO: Well, who are some of Congresswoman Cheney's prospective primary challengers, and how are Trump loyalists getting involved?

BOB BECK: Well, Trump loyalists are certainly working very hard to unseat her. And State Senator Anthony Bouchard is the-- I think one of the first people to announce State Representative Chuck Gray. He's from our biggest-- or our second largest community in the state in Casper. And then we have Darin Smith, who has been heavily involved behind the scenes in the Republican Party, and he ran against Representative Cheney during her first term and finished fourth in that race.

And they all bring different things to the table. Senator Bouchard in our state is very well known as a gun rights advocate. Chuck Gray certainly is as well and a conservative who is a talk show host. And Darin Smith is an attorney, and he's been an entrepreneur in the state. And his campaign is actually being headed up by Foster Friess, the millionaire who lives up in Jackson, Wyoming.

He helped him in his run for governor, and so Foster Friess is returning the favor. And I think that tells me, at least, there's going to be some money in that particular campaign, so that'll be interesting to watch.

ELAINE QUIJANO: That will be interesting. And why might a crowded field actually work to Liz Cheney's benefit?

BOB BECK: Well, I think it will certainly help her because she is going to attract some of the moderates. One of the interesting things about our primary race is that it is an open primary in the state of Wyoming. And so you can have independents that might jump in. You've got the more conservative Republican-- or I'm sorry, the more moderate Republicans who will be involved.

But you can also grab Democrats. Our state does not have a lot of Democrats. There will not be a viable Democrat running in that race, I can just assure you right now. So if you're somebody that appreciates her stance and you're a Democrat, you might get in on this primary election and vote for Liz Cheney.

I can tell you by social media comments that I'm seeing, by some other feedback that we are getting around the state, there are a lot of Democrats who are planning on being very supportive of Liz Cheney. And so that's something that will be very interesting.

And then the other part of this, of course, if there's three, five, six, seven candidates, you would think they would split the vote, and Representative Cheney might be able to slide back in, despite their opposition.

ELAINE QUIJANO: It'll be really fascinating to watch. Bob Beck, Bob, before we let you go, I have to ask, as a person who roots for the Chicago Bears, my hometown team, are there a lot of Green Bay Packers fans in your part of the world?

BOB BECK: No. Actually, if you look over my left shoulder, you'll see a Chicago Bulls sticker. I am actually a--

ELAINE QUIJANO: OK

BOB BECK: --Chicago guy born and raised, and I was raised to be a Bears fan. I was not allowed by my father, who's from Wisconsin, to ever be a Bears fan. And I have to tell you--

ELAINE QUIJANO: [LAUGHS]

BOB BECK: --had I been a Cubs and a Bears fan, that might have been a little too tough. So I'll pray for you on that regard.

ELAINE QUIJANO: [LAUGHS] Bob Beck. All right, this has been an educational conversation on many levels. We'll have to table this discussion for another time Bob, thanks so much. Really appreciate it.

BOB BECK: Thank you.