House Republican Conference Chair Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) is facing a fourth GOP primary challenger, with Denton Knapp, a retired US Army colonel who is currently based in California, becoming the latest to announce his candidacy.
Knapp’s announcement on Monday comes as Cheney — the No. 3 Republican in the House and highest-ranking GOP woman in Congress — has come under fire from her colleagues over her criticisms of former President Donald Trump, with a vote expected to take place on Wednesday that will likely lead to her ouster from her leadership post.
He told the Gillette News Record he plans to relocate back to Wyoming where he graduated from high school in 1985 to hop into the race.
Knapp cited Cheney’s vote to impeach Trump over Jan. 6 Capitol riots as one of the factors that spurred him to run.
“What’s missing right now is trust in our elected officials,” he told the publication. “Wyomingites expected Cheney to vote a certain way and she didn’t. As a result, she’s going through consequences.”
Businessman Darin Smith, who announced his candidacy on Friday, state Sen. Anthony Bouchard, state Rep. Chuck Gray, Cheyenne resident Bryan Eugene Keller and former Pavillion Mayor Marissa Joy Selvig have also jumped into the race to potentially become the at-large representative for The Cowboy State.
The pro-Trump faction of the party has been highly critical of Cheney’s rebukes of the former president, with embattled Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) having hosted a rally in her home state earlier this year calling for her ouster.
Cheney’s calls for the party to move on from Trump and split from House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) on Trump-related issues have landed her in hot water with her conference, with a number of notable lawmakers including McCarthy and House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) calling for her to be replaced in leadership, with critics arguing that her rhetoric has hindered her ability to help lead the party’s messaging efforts.
Despite the influx of backlash, Cheney — the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney — has stood by her position, arguing that the vote to oust her as conference chair comes down to whether members of leadership can speak the truth.
She has repeatedly pushed back on Trump’s claim he won the election and highlighted the Jan. 6 attack while making her case on where she believes the direction of the party should go.
Trump has been vocal in his calls for her ouster from both leadership and her seat, releasing multiple statements calling for her removal.
While Cheney overwhelmingly survived an attempt to oust her from leadership in February, renewed calls for her removal began to emerge during the House GOP retreat in Florida, where she split with McCarthy on the scope of the Jan. 6 commission, said that those who challenged the election results should be disqualified from being the 2024 presidential nominee and didn’t rule out a bid herself.
With McCarthy and Scalise backing the ouster and Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) locking down votes to replace her in leadership, Cheney is left with a narrow path in retaining her conference chair position — which could come as a blow to her overall reelection odds.