Kevin McCarthy backs Liz Cheney's challenger, escalating party feud

WASHINGTON — Rep. Kevin McCarthy, the House Republican leader, on Thursday endorsed Rep. Liz Cheney’s GOP rival for Wyoming’s lone congr...

WASHINGTON — Rep. Kevin McCarthy, the House Republican leader, on Thursday endorsed Rep. Liz Cheney’s GOP rival for Wyoming’s lone congressional seat, taking the unusual step of intervening in a party primary to oust a former ally who became the main political target of the former president. Donald J. Trump.

Mr McCarthy said he backed Harriet Hageman, a pro-Trump candidate who repeated the former president’s false claims that the 2020 presidential election was stolen, in a race that has become a test of first plan for the Republican Party.

“I look forward to welcoming Harriet to a Republican majority in the next Congress, where together we will hold the Biden administration to account and provide much-needed solutions to the American people,” McCarthy said in a statement. “The most successful representatives in Congress are focused on the needs of their constituents.”

It was an extraordinary move for a leader who aims to become Speaker of the House if his party wins control of Congress in November’s midterm legislative elections, and worked to maintain a fine line between his extreme flank right and more traditional conservatives.

Congressional leaders rarely get involved in primary races against incumbent members, but Mr. McCarthy’s decision was the latest escalation in the Republican Party’s effort to exile Ms. Cheney for forcefully speaking out against Mr. Trump and participating in a January 6 House inquiry. Attack on the Capitol. After initially defending her, Mr McCarthy last year led a campaign to strip Ms Cheney of her No 3 position in the Republican leadership of the House.

In a statement, Jeremy Adler, a spokesperson for Ms Cheney, provided the verbal equivalent of an eyeroll, suggesting that Mr McCarthy’s statement of support for Ms Hageman was a reflection of his weakness.

“Wow, she must be really desperate,” Mr Adler said.

Mr McCarthy’s endorsement came about two weeks after the Republican National Committee’s vote to censure Ms. Cheney and Rep. Adam Kinzinger, Republican of Illinois, for participating in the investigation of the deadly riot at the Capitol. The resolution said the couple were involved in “the persecution of ordinary citizens engaged in legitimate political discourse,” the party’s clearest statement to date that it viewed the riot and efforts to overturn the presidential election in 2020 that had fueled her as arguable.

Last week, Mr McCarthy defended the RNC, saying the committee had the right to pass his resolution.

In contrast, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, lambasted the party for it, saying that “Traditionally, the view of national party committees has been that we support all members of our party, regardless of their positions on certain issues. ”

Local media downplayed the importance that another national endorsement might have on the contours of the Wyoming House race.

Ms. Hageman has already been endorsed by Mr. Trump and Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky. But Ms Cheney, who has represented her state since 2017, still far outstripped her challenger despite being virtually exiled by her party.

Ms. Cheney brought in $2 million in the last quarter, entering 2022 with nearly $5 million in cash. Ms Hageman raised $443,000 last quarter and has approximately $380,000 in cashdespite vocal support from Mr. Trump and his family members.

But the endorsement says as much about Mr McCarthy’s fear of alienating the former president – and the right-wing flank of his caucus – as it does about giving Ms Hageman’s campaign a significant boost. . Ms. Cheney was the leading House Republican who voted to impeach Mr. Trump last January, after the assault on Capitol Hill, and became the leading Republican opposition voice to his attempt to cancel the 2020 elections.

Mr McCarthy, who enjoys a cordial working relationship with the former president and tried to help shape his endorsements of House candidates ahead of the midterm elections, cannot risk alienating him if he wants to retain the support of its diverse caucus, where loyalty to Mr. Trump is essential for many members.

Mr Trump on Thursday approved an effort to change Wyoming election laws to prohibit voters from changing their party affiliation to vote in the primaries after the filing deadline. The proposal is an effort to prevent Democrats from switching parties to vote for Ms. Cheney in the primary.

Reid J. Epstein contributed report.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Kevin McCarthy backs Liz Cheney's challenger, escalating party feud
Kevin McCarthy backs Liz Cheney's challenger, escalating party feud
Newsrust - US Top News
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