Liz Cheney and the Future of the Republican Party – Three Scenarios

Liz Cheney has been the Congressional Representative from Wyoming since 2017. She grew up in a political family and her father, Dick Cheney, was Vice-President during the George Bush administration (2001-2009). She herself has been known as a conservative Republican on all major policy issues. She was a rising star and she chaired the House Republican Conference from 2019 to 2021 (the third most powerful position in the Republican congressional contingent). Then the January 6, 2021 storming of the U.S. Capitol took place, promoted by former president Donald Trump. Based on her interpretation of the events and her moral integrity, she voted to impeach Trump. She has co-chaired the House January 6 Committee and believes the former president is a serious threat to our democracy. As a consequence, she is either viewed as a heroine in courage by many traditional, conservative Republicans or as a villain by many Trump supporters.

After losing the primary election last week in Wyoming for her House seat, she is considering running for president in 2024. She has affirmed that such a campaign would be, in part, an attempt to restore traditional core values to the Republican party and to make sure that Trump would not return to the White House. Does she have a future in the GOP? Before we look at the three main scenarios, let us look at the current situation.

Mid-Term Elections / A few months ago, it looked like the Republicans would pick up 20-40 seats to gain control of the House of Representatives and also win enough races to obtain a majority in the Senate. Given recent legislation victories in Congress and backlash to the Roe v. Wade reversal, it is now likely that Democrats will retain control of the Senate and lose far fewer seats in the House. Although many of Trump’s favored Senate candidates have won their primaries, some are underperforming in their campaigns for the general election (Dr. Oz in Pennsylvania, Walker in Georgia, etc.)

Trump’s Legal Problems / The legal cases are mounting against Trump, his children, and his closest associates (the classified documents in Mar-a-Lago, the January 6 event, tax evasion in New York, the attempt to overturn the election in Georgia, etc.). It is likely that the former president will be indicted for some of his actions.

Here are the three most likely scenarios for Republicans leading up to the 2024 election.

Scenario 1 – It is possible that Trump survives his legal problems, launches his candidacy for the presidency, and obtains enough votes in the primary elections to win the Republican nomination. He is still the most powerful person among the Republican base. Nevertheless, his attraction for independent voters has plummeted. (Many Democratic pundits think he would be easily defeated in a general election.)

Scenario 2 – It is also possible that Trump decides not to run again or that his legal baggage becomes overwhelming. Republican voters would likely choose a candidate who has supported Trump but does not have his negative baggage. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is the most likely candidate, but other options include Ted Cruz, Greg Abbott, or others.

Scenario 3 – There are other candidates who have distanced themselves (a little or a lot) from Trump, who are contemplating a run for the presidency.  These include Liz Cheney, Mike Pence, Nikki Haley, John Kasich, and Larry Hogan, among others. Given the nature of the primary election rules, it is possible that a candidate wins the delegates from a state by only winning the plurality of votes, not an absolute majority. This is what Trump did in 2016. He won pluralities in many states (mostly between 15% and 30%), but more than any of the other 16 major candidates. If the anti-Trump voters could coalesce around one candidate, then Liz Cheney would have a chance of winning the nomination (albeit a long shot).

Republican voters will have their opportunity to choose their party’s future. May they choose well.