Cheney considers 2024 presidential bid after Wyoming loss; Murkowski leads in Alaska: updates

Rep. Liz Cheney, former President Donald Trump's most prominent Republican critic, said she's intent on keeping him out of the Oval Office and may consider a presidential run herself.

Just hours after her stinging defeat in her GOP primary in Wyoming, she said a 2024 campaign "is something I’m thinking about and I’ll make a decision in the coming months." Cheney broke the news on NBC's "Today." She did not mention party affiliation, and there has been speculation she could mount a campaign as an independent.

Analysts reacted with significant skepticism to the news, saying Cheney is unlikely to beat Trump or even be a viable independent candidate.

In the meantime, the three-term House lawmaker and vice chair of the Jan. 6 committee has her eyes on the 45th president: "I believe that Donald Trump continues to pose a very grave threat – a risk to our republic – and I think defeating him is going to require a broad and united front of Republicans, Democrats and independents and that's what I intend to be a part of," Cheney said on "Today."

Trump, who backed Cheney's opponent Harriet Hageman, has teased a reelection campaign but has not officially announced he's running in 2024. He faces legal inquiries on many fronts, including an investigation related to classified documents removed last week from his Florida estate.

Key takeaways:

  • Cheney has reorganized her campaign account, filing paperwork with the Federal Election Commission to create a leadership PAC called "The Great Task."

  • With Cheney's loss, Trump's work to defeat the 10 House Republicans who voted for his impeachment in January 2021 was rewarded. Here's how those 10 have fared so far. 

  • In Alaska's primary, incumbent Sen. Lisa Murkowski advanced to the general election, along with challenger Kelly Tshibaka. In the House race, Sarah Palin moved to the November election, along with challengers Nick Begich III and Mary Peltola.

  • Former Vice President Mike Pence, another possible 2024 contender, suggested while in New Hampshire on Wednesday that he would consider testifying in front of the Jan. 6 committee, which is investigating Trump's involvement in the Capitol riot.

Cheney's timeline: How Liz Cheney went from Trump backer and GOP leader, to his fiercest critic and GOP outcast

Wyoming, Alaska primaries: Takeaways: Cheney loses to Hageman in Wyoming; Alaska's Murkowski and Palin advance to general

Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., speaks Aug. 16, 2022, at a primary Election Day gathering in Jackson, Wyoming. Cheney lost to Republican opponent Harriet Hageman in the primary.
Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., speaks Aug. 16, 2022, at a primary Election Day gathering in Jackson, Wyoming. Cheney lost to Republican opponent Harriet Hageman in the primary.

Who is Rep. Liz Cheney?

Here are some facts about Republican Rep. Liz Cheney:

  • She's the oldest child of former Vice President Dick Cheney and second lady Lynne Cheney.

  • She met husband Philip Perry at Colorado College. They have five children.

  • She used to work in the State Department and has a law degree from the University of Chicago Law School.

  • She voted with Donald Trump 93% of the time while he was president, according to FiveThirtyEight.

  • She voted to impeach Trump in 2021 after the attack on the U.S. Capitol.

– Katherine Swartz

Who is Rep. Liz Cheney?: What are her political positions? Is she running for president? What we know.

Would Cheney be a viable independent candidate?

Cheney has narrated the Jan. 6 hearings as its vice chair and narrated her failed House primary reelection campaign as a fight to save American democracy.

She said Tuesday night and Wednesday morning the fight is just beginning, and she is considering a presidential run to continue that work. Some voters and political analysts are wondering if Cheney would run as an independent, but the analysts agree it’s a rocky path and more arduous than even a doomed Republican primary bid would be.

“At the end of the day she’d probably get a very small slice of the vote, and I think she’d probably hurt the Democrats more than the Republicans given her current standing,” said Kyle Kondik, managing editor of the Crystal Ball, a political analysis newsletter at the University of Virginia.

Republican strategist Susan Del Percio said she doesn’t see a path for Cheney “or many others” as an independent in 2024.

Cheney wouldn’t have enough support among Republicans or Democrats to win nationwide, Del Percio said: “Democrats appreciate her standing up and respect that she did the right thing, but they’re not going to buy into her conservatism.”

Berwood Yost, director of the Center for Opinion Research at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, said Cheney is unlikely to attract Democratic votes in his battleground state but could help the party.

“Liz Cheney voted 95% of the time with Republicans. A lot of Democrats respect what she’s done recently, but I don’t think they’d pick her in a head-to-head matchup with her, Biden and Trump,” he said.

But she could help Democrats win by pulling votes away from Trump, as Green Party candidate Jill Stein pulled votes away from Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in 2016. Trump defeated Clinton that year by about 40,000 votes in Pennsylvania, the state that helped him clinch the White House. Stein received about 50,000 votes in that Pennsylvania presidential election.

– Candy Woodall

Get political news in your inbox: Sign up here to receive OnPolitics

Cheney would face tough path in presidential GOP primary

Even before she lost her Republican House primary Tuesday in Wyoming, political analysts forecasted the tough path Rep. Liz Cheney would face if she seeks the country’s highest office.

For months, the congresswoman has indicated she’s thinking about it. On Wednesday, she made that more of a reality by reorganizing her campaign finance account as a leadership PAC geared at preventing former President Donald Trump from reentering the Oval Office.

Opinion: What to do now with 'hot mess' that is the GOP?

But if she intends to keep him out by running against him in a Republican presidential primary – for which neither Cheney nor Trump have announced a bid – she faces an almost-certain loss, multiple analysts told USA TODAY.

“She could never, ever, ever, ever win a Republican primary,” said former Rep. Joe Walsh, who served in the House as a Republican from Illinois before Trumpism prompted him to leave the party. The base has become “radicalized” and “there’s no room for Liz Cheney in the party.”

Rick Wilson, co-founder of the anti-Trump Lincoln Project, said he doesn’t see the traditional conservative Cheney changing the party enough to be able to win it. “I don’t believe the Republican Party can be revived as long as Trump has an iron grip on it.”

Cheney has “ticked off” the core base of the party too much to win a primary, according to Republican strategist Susan Del Percio. “She is following a playbook that is true and good for the public commission and horrible politically.”

– Candy Woodall

Cheney avoids talking party affiliation

Asked if she would rule out running as a third party candidate in 2024, Cheney told Politico, "I really am not at all focused on that kind of specifics."

Cheney said her attention is on finishing her term in Congress, informing people across the country what happened on Jan. 6, 2021, and "making sure people understand how dangerous it is to vote for, to support election deniers."

"Then I'll go look towards sort of what comes next after that," she said.

– Dylan Wells

Pence says he'd 'consider' testifying before the Jan. 6 committee if asked

As Cheney repositioned herself for a potential national campaign after her loss in Wyoming, rifts within the GOP over former President Donald Trump were on display when former Vice President Mike Pence made an appearance in New Hampshire on Wednesday.

Pence, who is himself a potential 2024 presidential contender, said he would consider testifying before the Jan. 6 committee if asked. While Pence added many caveats and emphasized he had some constitutional concerns about appearing before the congressional committee, his remark was the latest example of Pence distancing himself from Trump.

"If there was an invitation to participate, I would consider it," Pence said in remarks at a New Hampshire event that were broadcast on NBC. Pence was speaking at the "Politics & Eggs" breakfast, an event that describes itself as a "must-stop" on the presidential campaign trail. New Hampshire plays a crucial role in the selection of presidential nominees since it holds its primary election early, right after the Iowa caucus that kicks off the nominating process.

– Caren Bohan, Ella Lee

Pence testimony?: Former VP Mike Pence says he would 'consider' testifying before Jan. 6 committee if asked

Murkowski leads Alaska Senate challengers

Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski will get to seek another term, after advancing to the November general election on Tuesday.

Murkowski’s challenger, Kelly Tshibaka, also advanced to November, where they both will be on a ranked-choice ballot in the fall after making it through the state's new nonpartisan primary system.

Murkowski's wide base of Republicans, Democrats and independents could help her hold onto the seat for a fourth term.

The senator is the only member of her chamber who voted to convict former President Donald Trump in his second impeachment trial who is facing voters this year. Others have retired or are up for reelection in 2024 or later.

– Candy Woodall

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) walks to the Senate Republican Luncheon in the U.S. Capitol Building on August 02, 2022 in Washington, DC.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) walks to the Senate Republican Luncheon in the U.S. Capitol Building on August 02, 2022 in Washington, DC.

Palin, Begich, Peltola advance in Alaska race for U.S. House seat

Businessman Nick Begich III, former Gov. Sarah Palin and tribal activist Mary Peltola will advance to the November general election for Alaska’s sole congressional district.

The three candidates are also competing in a special election to fill the seat until the end of the term of the late Rep. Don Young, who died earlier this year. Results from that vote will not be made available for days, as mail-in ballots are counted.

Begich and Palin are Republicans; Peltola is a Democrat. The state’s nonpartisan primary system allows the top four vote recipients to move forward to the general election, regardless of their political party.

– Dylan Wells

Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., speaks Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2022, at an Election Day gathering in Jackson, Wyo. Challenger Harriet Hageman has defeated Cheney in the primary. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong) ORG XMIT: WYJH205
Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., speaks Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2022, at an Election Day gathering in Jackson, Wyo. Challenger Harriet Hageman has defeated Cheney in the primary. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong) ORG XMIT: WYJH205

Cheney reorganizes her campaign account

In another sign she may be running for president, Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., filed a form Wednesday morning with the Federal Election Commission to revamp her campaign account.

The account, which had about $7 million in it at the end of July, is now a leadership PAC called “The Great Task.”

The Great Task was the name of the final ad in Cheney’s failed reelection campaign and a phrase from former President Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, which she referenced in her concession speech Tuesday night.

The change follows Cheney’s promise to do “whatever it takes” to fight against any reelection run from former President Donald Trump, who has his own leadership PAC called “Save America.” Trump used money in that fund to back Harriet Hageman, who defeated Cheney in the Wyoming primary.

– Candy Woodall

Cheney to launch new organization

Rep. Liz Cheney will start an organization in the next few weeks to mobilize a unified effort opposing any election bid from former President Donald Trump and educating the American people about the ongoing threat to democracy, her spokesman Jeremy Adler confirmed to USA TODAY on Wednesday morning.

The new organization was first reported by Politico Playbook.

Cheney’s new group doesn’t have a name yet and is being formed as she considers a 2024 presidential run.

– Candy Woodall

Cheney after defeat: 'Now the real work begins'

On Tuesday night, after conceding defeat to Hageman, Cheney told a crowd of supporters: “This primary election is over but now the real work begins.”

Cheney again denounced Trump for "lies" about the 2020 election, and indicated she would work against other Republican "election deniers" who are seeking offices across the country in this year's election.

At the time, Cheney did not allude to a presidential campaign of her own in 2024, nor did she discuss in detail her ongoing work on the Jan. 6 congressional committee investigation.

 – David Jackson

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Liz Cheney for president 2024? Live updates after Wyoming primary loss