National PAC sought challengers to Cheney

CASPER — Club For Growth, a national conservative political action committee, confirmed to the Star-Tribune it shopped around Wyoming the last week of March for a challenger to face Rep. Liz Cheney in her 2022 House primary.

Club For Growth’s presence in the state is a signal that the race may not be limited to the current candidates facing Cheney, state Sen. Anthony Bouchard, R-Cheyenne, and state Rep. Chuck Gray, R-Casper.

However, Gray and Bouchard were not excluded either.

Club for Growth met with Gray when they visited the state and then again in Washington in April, Gray said. Bouchard did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

“We interviewed a number of potential candidates,” Joe Kildea, vice president of communications for the PAC, said Wednesday. Kildea declined to say whether the group plans to make an endorsement or which potential candidates they interviewed.

Kildea said the group is not ruling out the possibility of a second visit to the state if it is warranted.

This is not the first time prominent Republican leaders have signaled that more candidates may enter the race.

“Don’t just back the first person that comes along,” Donald Trump Jr. said earlier this year over the phone at a rally in Cheyenne.

Cheney drew the ire of many Wyoming Republicans after she voted to impeach then-President Donald Trump following the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. In the aftermath, she was censured by the Wyoming Republican Party and many of the state GOP’s county-level organizations.

In previously unreleased results, the pollster WPA Intelligence — who was contracted by Club For Growth — found that only 14 percent of the roughly 400 people polled toward the end of April said they would vote to reelect Cheney “regardless of who ran against her.” WPA Intelligence is not yet a well-established polling group, however, according to website FiveThirtyEight.

Club For Growth recently endorsed Max Miller, a former Trump White House aide who is running against Ohio Rep. Anthony Gonzalez. Like Cheney, Gonzalez was one of 10 House Republicans to vote to impeach Trump.

Cheney’s future as Republican Conference chair is likely to be voted on next week in the second secret ballot on the matter. In February, Cheney survived a leadership challenge by a large margin. However, the latest attempt to oust Cheney has garnered support from prominent congressional Republicans such as Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana, the second-ranking Republican in the House.

On Wednesday, the Washington Post published an op-ed by Cheney in which she continued to criticize Trump.

“The Republican Party is at a turning point, and Republicans must decide whether we are going to choose truth and fidelity to the Constitution,” she wrote. “In the immediate wake of the violence of Jan. 6, almost all of us knew the gravity and the cause of what had just happened — we had witnessed it firsthand.”

“History is watching,” the essay ended. “Our children are watching. We must be brave enough to defend the basic principles that underpin and protect our freedom and our democratic process. I am committed to doing that, no matter what the short-term political consequences might be.”

Also Wednesday, Trump endorsed Rep. Elise Stefanik to replace Cheney if she is ousted. Club For Growth, however, tweeted in opposition to the New York Republican.

“Elise Stefanik is NOT a good spokesperson for the House Republican Conference,” the PAC tweeted. “She is a liberal with a 35-percent CFGF lifetime rating, 4th worst in the House GOP. House Republicans should find a conservative to lead messaging and win back the House Majority.”