Inside Trump's intense search for a Cheney challenger

The ex-president's team has been interviewing Republicans running against Rep. Liz Cheney. Two of them have interviews with Trump up next.

7/23/2021 2:01:00 PM

Former President Donald Trump’s top political advisers have been holding quiet talks over the last several months with the primary challengers looking to take down his most prominent Republican nemesis: Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney

The ex-president's team has been interviewing Republicans running against Rep. Liz Cheney. Two of them have interviews with Trump up next.

Link CopiedFormer President Donald Trump’s top political advisers have been holding quiet talks over the last several months with the primary challengers looking to take down his most prominent Republican nemesis: Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney.During phone calls and Zoom chats, the Trump advisers have pressed the candidates on their fundraising capabilities, their policy positions and the overall strength of their campaign organizations. The goal: to determine whether they have what it takes to unseat Cheney, the influential daughter of a former vice president, who served as the No. 3 House Republican until colleagues ousted her in the spring.

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The talks will escalate next week, when Trump meets with two challengers at his Bedminster, N.J., golf club: state Rep. Chuck Gray and attorney Darin Smith. Trump’s son, Don, Jr., who earlier this year visited Wyoming to speak out against Cheney for supporting his father’s impeachment, is expected to be present at the meetings.

Trump is expected to sit down with other candidates before deciding whom to endorse, though advisers say that Gray and Smith have emerged as the two clear frontrunners. To prevent Cheney from winning renomination with just a plurality of the vote, they also say, Trump needs to back the strongest candidate and then elbow out others in the crowded field.

The behind-the-scenes talks underscore the high stakes confronting Trump, who has made unseating Cheney a priority since she blamed him for inciting the Jan. 6 Capitol riot and voted to impeach him. The outcome of the contest — and Trump’s ability to shape it — will be a key measure of Trump’s post-presidential dominance over the Republican Party.

“The Wyoming race is the highest priority of the cycle. It’s a must-win for President Trump. I hope he fully understands that because it’s an undeniable fact,” said Christopher Ekstrom, a major GOP donor overseeing a super PAC that’s expected to get involved in the effort to unseat Cheney.

Shortly after the January impeachment vote, the former president’s advisers began reaching out to the state Republican Party chair, Frank Eathorne, and state legislators to take their temperature on Wyoming’s political landscape. They were also in touch with the anti-tax Club for Growth, a pro-Trump group that is opposing Cheney.

Trump allies, including Donald Trump, Jr. and Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz, traveled to the state to campaign against Cheney. Former Trump White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows also went to Wyoming to get on-the-ground intel and meet with potential primary challengers.

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The Trump team sounded out a potential early challenger in state Treasurer Curt Meier. But Meier said he wasn’t interested and instead recommended Gray, a state legislator and former radio show host who is staunchly supportive of the former president. In late January, Trump pollster John McLaughlin commissioned a

500-person survey through the former president's political action committee,which asked respondents their opinion of Gray and whether they would support him or Cheney in a primary matchup. The poll also tested the strength of another candidate, state Sen. Anthony Bouchard.

Other Trump advisers also weighed in on how to design the 53-question survey. The race has been a topic of conversation on regularly scheduled Monday conference calls where Trump lieutenants discuss different campaigns and the overall political landscape.

Trump has been in touch with Club for Growth President David McIntosh, who has briefed Trump on his organization’s interviews with the candidates and urged him to hold off on making an endorsement until he’s certain he’s found the right person. The Club — which polled the race earlier this in May and this week began working on another survey — is expected to spend millions of dollars in the contest.

“Trump’s analysis is correct that we need to get it down to a two-person race, and at that point, the challenger is likely to win, based on the polling we’ve done,” McIntosh said in an interview.McIntosh’s organization,which has dispatched staffers to Wyoming and this week began airing TV ads hammering Cheney

, has yet to make an endorsement in the race. McIntosh said “the ideal is that the Trump and the Club are aligned” in supporting a challenger. Read more: POLITICO »

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The former guy, lost the House, the Senate & the WH, created the big lie resulting in the Capital insurrection. And primary challengers in Wyoming are willing to run against Liz Cheney, Trump's perceived Nemesis? Go for it in Cheney's Wyoming & Trust Trump's endorsed polls? No,🤑 A shrinking party pushing key members out will only help the country in the long run. Less Republicans means less votes for Trump. He may edge out all others for the nomination but the majority of the Nation have had enough of the Trump lies & chaos. The citizens deserve better.

The very interesting case of Liz Cheney demonstrates that thinking voters from both sides of the aisle can support ideas over party. “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.” -Sanskrit treatise on statecraft, the Arthashastra, which dates to around the 4th century BCE. Squashing diversity of opinion, even within your their own party...yup that is dictator crap right there

She should switch to Independent.,..

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