(WASHINGTON) — In his quest to keep Republicans united and become House speaker, Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has supported and given money to many of the Republicans who voted to impeach former President Donald Trump last year — with one exception.
In an interview with The Federalist, McCarthy officially endorsed Rep. Liz Cheney’s primary opponent, Harriet Hageman, in her upcoming August primary after hard-right House GOP members pushed him to expel her from the GOP conference.
“After spending time with Harriet, it is readily apparent she will always listen and prioritize the needs of her local communities and is focused on tackling our nation’s biggest problems,” McCarthy, R-Calif., told The Federalist. “I look forward to serving with Harriet for years to come.”
Hageman welcomed McCarthy’s endorsement, releasing a statement saying that she’s “very grateful for Leader McCarthy’s strong support,” and pledges that when she’s Wyoming’s member of Congress, she’ll stand up for the state and do the job she was sent to do.
Hageman continued saying that Cheney, R-Wyo., “has completely lost the ability to do her job of representing Wyoming as [their] only member of the House of Representatives.”
Following McCarthy’s endorsement of Hageman, a Cheney’s spokesperson said in a statement, “Wow. She must really be desperate.”
Party leaders rarely get involved in primaries, especially when it’s an incumbent from their own party seeking reelection.
The endorsement from McCarthy comes as one of the latest attacks on Cheney as she faces a tough reelection year. It was only a few weeks ago the Republican National Committee voted to censure Cheney and Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., for their roles on the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. Before that, Cheney was censured by her own state party and voted out of her role as the number three Republican in the House.
“There’s a reason why Liz Cheney is no longer in leadership and has very low poll rating in Wyoming,” McCarthy recently told reporters.
On Friday, Rep. Elise Stefanik, who replaced Cheney on the House Republican’s leadership team, announced her endorsement of Hageman.
Stefanik said Cheney has “abandoned her constituents to become a Far-Left Pelosi puppet” and “sadly belongs in an MSNBC or CNN news chair, not in Congress representing Wyoming—a state that voted for President Trump by over forty points.”
Last September, Hageman has also received support from Trump, who is part of the larger effort to get Cheney elected out of office.
Even though Hageman has received endorsements from major players in the Republican party, she still lags behind Cheney in fundraising. Cheney raised a total of $7.2 million in 2021, breaking her own fundraising record. Moreover, as the 2022 election year ramps up, Hageman’s cash on hand is just $381,000 compared to Cheney’s $4.7 million war chest, according to filings.
The effort to get Cheney out of federal office is at the national and state levels. There’s a push from state lawmakers in Wyoming to pass SF0097 which would end same-day party affiliation change on a primary day.
This could make it more difficult for Democrats and independents who might want to vote for Cheney in the primary. If enacted, voters would need to change their party affiliation three months before the Wyoming primary, scheduled for Aug. 16.
ABC News’ Soorin Kim and Alisa Wiersema contributed to this report
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