CASPER, Wyo — Wyoming’s lone Representative in the U.S. House, Liz Cheney, will face a referendum Wednesday from members of her own caucus over her ongoing feud with former President Donald Trump, who remains the dominant influence in the party.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy set a Wednesday vote for removing Cheney from her post as Conference Chair, the third-ranking member in the House.
Cheney was among 10 Republicans in the House to vote for Trump’s impeachment on charges that he incited the mob that attacked the U.S. Capitol early this year. In a Washington Post op-ed last Wednesday, she renewed her calls for the GOP to move beyond Trump’s “cult of personality” and continued, unfounded claims of a stolen election.
Article continues below…
There is some uncertainty among Wyoming political science educators about what Cheney’s removal could mean for the state’s interests, especially as it continues to fight back against President Joe Biden’s energy policies.
Jim King, professor of political science at the University of Wyoming, described the role of Conference Chair as administrative and organizational, and that the push to remove Cheney was more about “the public face” of the Party.
“It’s being part of the leadership when the leadership sits down around the table, as opposed to sitting in an auditorium with the other 200 members,” King said.
“It’s probably more important to be part of the leadership when you’re in the majority and you get to set the agenda. As long as Republicans are in a reactive mode, I don’t think she [will have] lost any position of influence,” King said.
“She doesn’t need be Conference Chair to have a platform before he national media to talk about her views,” King said, adding that Cheney would still retain her position on the Natural Resources Committee, and, of course, her vote in the House.
Erich Frankland, political science instructor at Casper College, said Wyoming “could lose some clout” on the national scene if Cheney lost her post. He said that her potential replacement, New York congressman Elise Stefanik, “is probably not going to be as supportive of the fossil fuel industry.”
Cheney received a letter of support from the Petroleum Association of Wyoming following the backlash for her vote to impeach Trump in January. The PAW called Cheney a critical champion of the state’s energy interests as it faces an “unfavorable” Joe Biden presidency.
Biden has issued a suspension of new oil and gas leasing and drilling permits for U.S. lands and waters, and revoked by executive order the Keystone XL oil pipeline permit. A University of Wyoming study funded by the Wyoming Energy Authority estimated the moratorium, in perpetuity, could cost Wyoming 15,000 jobs and $300 million in tax revenue annually.
King pointed out fossil fuel interests are shared among a number of intermountain and Appalachian states, as well as Texas and Alaska.
Frankland added that fossil fuels have a key Democratic ally in the Senate — Senator Joe Manchin from West Virginia.
“The policy agenda is, to some respects, getting lost, while the Republicans shift to this debate of ‘are we supportive of the former president or not?” King said. “Which is a very odd thing.”
King said Cheney shares the goals and policy preferences with the “vast majority” of the Republican Conference, and she has an 80% career voting record score from the conservative Heritage Foundation.
Trump has wholeheartedly endorsed Stefanik for Cheney’s spot. Stefanik has a notably more moderate 48% score on her career voting record from the Heritage Foundation. Frankland said she may be more likely to work with Democrats and Biden on raising corporate taxes.
Mike Pyatt, Casper resident and co-founder of Liberty’s Place 4 U Wy, isn’t swayed by Cheney’s endorsement by the PAW, or her conservative bona fides.
“I don’t think she represents most Wyoming people anymore,” he told Oil City News. “I know she brags that she voted 93% of the time with Trump but I don’t think that automatically means she’s representing our interests.”
As for the more moderate Stefanik: ““I think she’s certainly more pro-Trump than Liz Cheney, so I’d take a gamble on her,” Pyatt said.
Related Stories from Oil City News:
Read More: Professors consider impact on Wyoming’s ‘clout’ in D.C. if Cheney loses Conference post