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As primary season approaches, Trump holds a rally in Casper aiming to oust Liz Cheney from Congress

A red, white, and blue campaign sign reads "Wyoming is Trump country"
Hugh Cook

Former President Donald Trump's Save America rally on May 28 drew thousands of attendees to the Ford Wyoming Center in Casper, many of whom were eager to see the 45th president go after incumbent U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney.

Cheney has consistently drawn the ire of Trump and many of his supporters since she voted to impeach him for the events of Jan. 6, 2021. She's a visible figure on the U.S. House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack and has repeatedly criticized Trump for his role in the events. Trump endorsed Harriet Hageman, a former Cheney booster, last September and sought to energize voters to defeat her in the August primary.

The Wyoming Republican Party censuredand voted to no longer recognize Cheney as a member of their party due to her impeachment vote. The Republican National Committee also censuredher over her work with the Jan. 6 Committee.

"I'll definitely vote for her [Hageman] mainly just because, like everybody else here, I just want to get rid of Liz Cheney," said Kim McJunkin, a Casper resident, who attended the rally.

Red, white, and blue stickers that read "Hageman for Congress" with a small elephant above the words are stacked on a black table.
Hugh Cook
Wyoming Public Media

For her, there need to be more politicians in Trump's mold rather than what they call "Republicans In Name Only," more popularly known as RINOs. She also expressed her unhappiness with the state of Wyoming's GOP.

"I'm not necessarily super pleased with it," she said. "I really think that we need term limits, and we need to drain the swamp because after even our best politicians spend a few years in D.C., it seems like they become corrupt as well."

She feels that Trump's influence on the national Republican Party has been positive. She wants him to run again in 2024.

"Well, my hope is Trump," she said. "There are a few other good conservatives out there. I don't really have any names that come to mind right now, but just anybody who, I guess, isn't a corrupt Republican."

Mark Hanson, another Casperite, agrees that Trump has been a positive influence on the GOP. He wants to see the party change to a more Trumpian tone.

"I'd say probably it's about in the middle as far as his influence across the nation [and] the GOP [goes ]", he said. "We got a lot of RINOs in there that we need to get out of. Liz Cheney's one of them."

A crowd gathers at the 2022 Casper, Wyoming Trump rally.
Hugh Cook
Wyoming Public Media

And while he said the former president's influence has been somewhat moderated nationwide, he felt like that was changing.

"I believe he's absolutely gaining, not only here in Wyoming but the rest of the country, because of the administration that we have with Biden and the clown show we have going on there," he said.

Trump is still his preferred candidate in 2024, though he has not formally announced whether he is running or not. And while many have speculated as to what might happen, Hanson said he thinks Trump will run again.

He ultimately wants Trump to run again in two years and is set on him as his preferred candidate, though he said he wouldn't mind having Florida governor Ron DeSantis be the Republican nominee if Trump chooses not to run.

Many rally attendees had made up their minds as to whom they wanted to see in the White House in 2024 and in Wyoming's lone U.S. House seat. But not all attendees were locked in on their candidate choices for the upcoming elections.

A red, white, and blue campaign sign reads "Save America! Text RALLY to 88022"
Hugh Cook
Wyoming Public Media

"I'm a conservative Republican, my wife is pretty much a Democrat, my daughters are super quadruple liberal, and yet we all break bread, we all get along, we don't let politics divide us," said Gale Roberts, who traveled from Pinedale for the event. "That's the problem in our country, we don't teach tolerance, we teach, 'If I disagree with you, then we're going to lock horns.'"

Trump has made many endorsements over his tenure in and out of the White House. And while some have benefited from his stamp of approval, others have failed to catch on with voters.

"My votes, I'm first and foremost an American, and I vote for who supports what I do. I don't care what anybody else tells me, I look at the candidate that supports my interests," Roberts explained. "I think that's what we should all do, right? His endorsements would not necessarily mean that much to me. The candidate I vote for is who I believe who should be a candidate, not who he [Trump] thinks should be the candidate."

Roberts said he voted for Trump in both 2016 and 2020 but that he hasn't yet determined who he might support in the U.S. House race. But whoever wins or loses, he hopes that there is a healing that can help be beneficial to the country.

The Wyoming primary election is set for Tuesday, Aug. 16.

Hugh Cook is Wyoming Public Radio's Northeast Reporter, based in Gillette. A fourth-generation Northeast Wyoming native, Hugh joined Wyoming Public Media in October 2021 after studying and working abroad and in Washington, D.C. for the late Senator Mike Enzi.
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