Removing congresswoman Liz Cheney from House GOP leadership was a relatively easy task for pro-Trump Republicans compared with their growing effort to boot her from office.
The Republican rush to punish Cheney for her criticism of former President Donald Trump is drawing a cast of Wyoming primary challengers so big it could help her win.
Cheney already has at least six primary opponents for 2022.
Supporters and opponents alike point out that they could divide the vote and end up making it easier for Cheney to win.
The scrum of Cheney challengers includes a kombucha brewer and a retired Army colonel.
Cheney was removed from her role as GOP conference chair — the third-highest position in House leadership — amid her continued criticism of former President Donald Trump and his persistent false allegations that widespread voter fraud occurred in the 2020 election.
She was one of 10 Republican House members to vote to impeach Trump following the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol, leading to a vote for removal earlier this year which she survived.
Since that vote, Cheney has doubled down on her insistence that Republicans break away from Trump’s influence, despite his continued popularity within the party. She’s one of the few party members who has maintained that Trump’s persistent false claims of widespread fraud in the 2020 election is a lie.
"Remaining silent and ignoring the lie emboldens the liar," Cheney said Tuesday in her speech from the House floor. "I will not participate in that. I will not sit back and watch in silence while others lead our party down a path that abandons the rule of law and joins the former President's crusade to undermine our democracy."
Other Republican leaders, like House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, say Cheney’s comments are undermining the party’s attempts to build opposition to the Biden administration’s agenda.
Reports that McCarthy’s confidence had begun wavering in Cheney surfaced earlier this month, when Axios obtained an off-air recording of McCarthy during a Fox News segment.
"I think she's got real problems," McCarthy said, according to Axios. "I've had it with her. You know, I've lost confidence. ... Well, someone just has to bring a motion, but I assume that will probably take place."
Following Wednesday's vote, Cheney said the Republican Party had strayed from its goals of conservatism.
"The nation needs a party that is based on strong fundamental principals of conservatism. I am committed and dedicated to ensuring that that’s how this party goes forward, and I plan to lead the fight to do that," Cheney said. "...we cannot be dragged backward by the very dangerous lies of a former president."