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Wyoming Republicans React To Liz Cheney's Removal From Republican Leadership


Lots of Republicans are upset with Liz Cheney. That's pretty clear from the state Republican Party's vote to censure her after her vote to impeach former President Donald Trump.Pushback to Cheney's stance didn't stop at the state level though. After Cheney's continued criticism of the former president, Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives voted her out of a leadership position on Wednesday, May 5th.

Gillette resident Shelby Bachtold is one of the people who disagrees with Cheney's actions. Bachtold said this isn't the kind of representation Wyomingites are looking for.

"I think she handled herself in a very poor way," she said. "I'm thanking God that, finally, the Republicans stood up and said, 'This is not okay. This is not how you act. This is not how you represent your side, us.'"

Bob Ferguson, who lives in Meeteetse, said the reason why people are pushing back against her is getting lost in a Trump versus Cheney war.

"Her position as a leadership role, as head of the caucus, is to build unity. You can't possibly build unity if you're sitting there on a weekly basis bashing all, you know, 50 million people that voted for President Trump," he said.

But others haven't minded Cheney's outspoken response.

"I guess the way I look at it is my voice gets pretty watered down, the further up you go," said Republican Randy Okray, who lives in Gillette. "I try to look at people who have similar values and, and who kind of support a good, virtuous system. And so part of that is supporting the laws and the Constitution. And I think Liz has done a great job at that."

Cheney had plenty of critics when she was first elected in 2016. Much of that centered around the fact that she moved to Wyoming from another state to run for office.

"We need to focus back on the policies on the platforms. That's where I wish that we were at is that we would just move on from this and focus on becoming more cohesive and working together."

Charlene Camblin said that was initially what turned her off to Cheney. But, since then, Cheney's strong, conservative voting record in Washington won her over.

"What I really appreciate about what Liz has done is, she has supported the industries that are critical to Wyoming, our energy industry, she has championed that on every turn," she said.

Camblin lives on a ranch in northern Campbell County. While she said she didn't agree with Cheney's vote to impeach Trump, Camblin also added the former president's rhetoric is not productive.

"We need to focus back on the policies on the platforms," she said. "That's where I wish that we were at is that we would just move on from this and focus on becoming more cohesive and working together."

Wyoming only has one representative in the House and having a powerful congressional delegation is especially important to secure money and other priorities. Voters like Camblin worry the state will lose clout if someone new comes in.

"Don't underestimate that Liz still has a lot of support in this state because we value her knowledge and what she knows how to get things done. You can call it the swamp all day long. But it still exists, and you still have to be able to navigate it," Camblin said.

Outside of her impeachment vote, most Republicans here admit they have been happy with Cheney's voting record. But Bob Ferguson said he has no problem with getting someone new in the position.

"It would be great to have a representative from Wyoming in a leadership role, but I'd much rather have a strong conservative in that position that's going to represent the will of their constituents instead," he said.

But it's clear the fight over Cheney's actions is also about the identity of the Republican Party, at both the national and state level.

"I think we're kind of stuck on those extremist views right now. And I think you can see that at the national level like with what's going on with Liz," Randy Okray said. "You can see that at our state level with what's going on with our Wyoming GOP. And I think that's a really dangerous place to be to try to grow our party and get under the big tent."

That debate will be sorted out in next year's election. With a slew of candidates lining up to face Cheney, Republicans will be able to formally show where they stand.

Catherine Wheeler comes to Wyoming from Kansas City, Missouri. She has worked at public media stations in Missouri and on the Vox podcast "Today, Explained." Catherine graduated from Fort Lewis College with a BA in English. She recently received her master in journalism from the University of Missouri. Catherine enjoys cooking, looming, reading and the outdoors.
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