On Primary Eve, Different Outlooks for Cheney, Murkowski

Both GOPers have been strong Trump critics, but Murkowski's prospects look better than Cheney's
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 15, 2022 8:35 AM CDT
2 GOP Trump Critics Face Their Primaries on Tuesday
Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., listens as the House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the US Capitol holds a hearing at the Capitol in Washington on June 23.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

They hail from their states' most prominent Republican families. They've been among the GOP's sharpest critics of former President Trump. And after the Jan. 6 insurrection, they supported his impeachment. But for all their similarities, the political fortunes of US Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and US Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming are poised to diverge on Tuesday, when they're each on the ballot in closely watched primary elections, per the AP. Cheney faces daunting prospects in her effort to fend off the Trump-backed Harriet Hageman, increasingly looking at a life beyond Capitol Hill that could include a possible presidential campaign. Murkowski, however, is expected to advance from her primary and is already planning to compete in the November general election.

The anticipated outcomes at least partially stem from the nuanced politics of each state. Wyoming is a Republican stronghold, delivering Trump his strongest victory of any state in the 2020 campaign. Alaska, meanwhile, has a history of rewarding candidates with an independent streak. But Murkowski enjoys an additional advantage in the way elections are being conducted in Alaska this year. Winner-take-all party primaries, like the one Cheney is facing, have been replaced by a voter-approved process in which all candidates are listed together. The four who get the most votes, regardless of party affiliation, advance to the general election, in which ranked voting will be used. Murkowski benefits from avoiding a Republican primary, "which she would have had a zero percent—I mean zero percent—chance of winning," says Alaska pollster Ivan Moore.

Murkowski has 18 challengers in her primary, the most prominent being Republican Kelly Tshibaka, whom Trump has endorsed. The Alaska Democratic Party, meanwhile, has endorsed retired educator Pat Chesbro. Cheney, meanwhile, is the vice chair of the House Select Committee investigating the Capitol riot. The insurrection was a big issue during a June debate between Cheney and Republican challengers, including Hageman. Entering the final stretch of her primary campaign, Cheney hasn't backed down. She released a video on Thursday with a closing message reinforcing her criticism of Trump, noting that the lie of a stolen 2020 presidential election "is Donald Trump's legacy, but it cannot be the future of our nation." Murkowski says of Cheney: "She is doing her job under very challenging circumstances. But I think she's doing it because she believes she has to." Much more here.

(Read more Liz Cheney stories.)

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