(The Hill) — Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) is facing down a new political future after losing her House primary on Tuesday to Trump-endorsed lawyer Harriet Hageman.
Speculation about what the three-term congresswoman who hails from a Republican political dynasty will do once her time in Congress comes to a close has steadily grown louder, and the Wyoming Republican has not yet signaled whether she plans to throw her hat into the 2024 presidential ring.
Cheney delivered a defiant speech Tuesday night, slamming former President Donald Trump, the movement he created and the candidates who repeat his claims about the 2020 election. It was at once a concession speech and a promise of a future in public life.
“So I ask you tonight to join me. As we leave here, let us resolve that we will stand together — Republicans, Democrats and Independents — against those who will destroy our republic,” Cheney said.
But even as she vowed to “do whatever it takes to ensure Donald Trump is never again anywhere near the Oval Office,” she gave little indication of what exactly she herself will do next.
“This primary election is over, but now the real work begins,” she said.
Here are five questions about Liz Cheney’s political future:
Does she launch a 2024 presidential campaign?
Cheney, the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, has dodged questions about a potential 2024 run, preferring to bring the conversation back to her main goal: keeping Trump out of the White House.
The Wyoming Republican could land a gig on cable television or join a think tank or pen a book, but Republican strategist Scott Jennings — who worked in the Bush-Cheney White House — says Cheney’s “next logical” step toward accomplishing that goal is a 2024 bid.
“There are things you could do, but what better platform would there be than to be running a campaign?” Jennings told The Hill in an interview.
“You can bet that if Cheney launches a campaign for president, she’s gonna, you know, the amount of coverage she will get, and the amount of media attention she will get, will far outstrip her standing in the polls,” Jennings added. “And so, it strikes me that if you’re wanting to talk to Republican audiences about what you think is an important point of view, what better way to do that and to do it in the presidential cycle?”
Logistically speaking, a Cheney White House bid is possible.
The congresswoman skyrocketed to even greater national prominence through her work as vice chair of the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol. She has name recognition, deep ties in the Republican Party and a sizable war chest, with $7.4 million remaining in her campaign account as of three weeks ago, according to NBC News.
And while Cheney, true to pattern, kept much of her speech Tuesday focused on Trump and Trumpism, she didn’t rule anything out for 2024.
Does she run to win the White House — or keep Trump out of it?
Insiders agree winning the 2024 GOP presidential nomination would be an uphill battle for Cheney.
Most hypothetical polls show Trump in the lead and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), a proponent of Trump’s policies, in second.
But even with little chance of winning, Cheney may run to influence the outcome of the primary.
“How do you define success?” Jennings said. “For her, it may be less about winning the nomination and more about keeping Trump from getting the nomination. So I think it just depends on how you define success.”
Her presence would also give a voice to anti-Trump Republicans who have been largely shut out of a presidential conversation dominated by Trump and people who espouse his policies and rhetoric.
“When it comes to people that are not part of the whole MAGA movement, who are not happy with the direction that the Republican Party has gone, who are more traditional conservative Republicans, like myself, from the past, I think that Liz Cheney is a more appealing option,” said Olivia Troye, a former aide to Vice President Mike Pence.
“I think it’s important to have someone like her be willing to continue to push back and tell the truth about what’s happening here,” she said.
Cheney on Tuesday referenced former President Abraham Lincoln, who fought to keep the U.S. unified.
“The great and original champion of our party, Abraham Lincoln, was defeated in elections for the Senate and the House before he won the most important election of all. Lincoln ultimately prevailed, he saved our Union, and he defined our obligation as Americans for all of history,” she said.
What does she do with her time left in office?
The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol is already racing against the clock, trying to tie up its investigation within the next few months in anticipation of Republicans winning control of the chamber in November.
But before then, the panel is vowing to hold more public hearings and present additional information to bolster its argument that Trump was at the center of a scheme to keep himself in power — presentations that Cheney will likely play a large role in.
“We’re not winding down right now,” Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) told reporters in the Capitol last month. “It’s been amazing to see, kind of, the flurry of people coming forward, so it’s not the time to wind it down.”
Cheney has played a central role in the committee’s previous hearings, delivering opening and closing statements and questioning witnesses appearing live before the panel.
And she has not shied away from criticizing Trump or her GOP colleagues during those presentations — a practice she will likely continue, if not ramp up, in the remaining months of her term.
Republican strategist Doug Heye told The Hill that whatever path Cheney takes after her primary defeat, she will make sure she remains a vocal presence in American politics, beginning with her work on the committee.
“What’s clear is that her voice isn’t going to go anywhere,” Heye said. “And that will start with, you know, the next hearings on Jan. 6, and then we’ll continue in whatever form she decides to take them in.
What kind of support does she have for future moves?
Cheney may have lost her primary but she still has a vast nationwide network of supporters and donors who could be of help for any future political moves she might make.
The congresswoman broke her own record in the first quarter of the year, bringing in close to $3 million, and followed that up with a whopping $2.9 million in the second quarter.
In addition to grassroots donations, Cheney raked in money from notable Republican and Democratic donors across the country including former President George W. Bush, his former adviser Karl Rove, film producer Jeffrey Katzenberg, and billionaire hedge fund manager Seth Klarman.
However, in a Republican presidential primary, Cheney would need to appeal to a Republican primary base. And she may not be the only anti-Trump Republican in the field. Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) has repeatedly been floated as a potential 2024 GOP hopeful and has yet to rule out a run.
“I think it will be important for them to navigate how they will reach more moderate voters,” Troye said.
“These are longtime, respected Republican figures,” she continued. “And their voices can reach an audience in a way that many can’t.”
What could she do besides run for president?
While a 2024 presidential bid is the most talked-about possibility for Cheney, there are other avenues the congresswoman can pursue as she looks to continue her crusade against Trump.
One would be joining the cable news circuit as a commentator or analyst, which would give the congresswoman a sizable platform to take on the former president and denounce his false claim that the 2020 presidential election was stolen.
That route is a popular one for former lawmakers. Ex-Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), who was unseated by then-Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley (R) in 2018, joined NBC News and MSNBC months after the race as a political analyst, and former Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) was hired by Fox News as a contributor one day after he resigned from the House in 2017.
Cheney could also join a think tank or form her own PAC, as Kinzinger, who is not running for reelection this November, has done.
Kinzinger — another top Trump critic and Cheney’s fellow Republican on the Jan. 6 panel — launched a PAC, titled “Country First,” as a movement to challenge the GOP’s embrace of Trump.
Another option for Cheney is writing a book, a popular move for top figures leaving Washington. After bowing out of running for a third term in 2020, former Rep. Will Hurd (R-Texas), who criticized Trump on a number of occasions, penned a book titled “American Reboot: An Idealist’s Guide to Getting Big Things Done.”
While it remains unknown what Cheney will choose for her next act, Jennings says the congresswoman likely has a plan driving her recent — and future — political moves.
“I know the Cheneys and I know how smart they are and I know how they operate, and I would be surprised if this wasn’t part of a larger plan, but a plan that fits within a mission,” Jennings said. “I think she believes she’s on a mission here to keep Donald Trump out of the White House. So if that’s your mission, then they’re the kind of people who would build a plan to try to achieve that mission.”