Liz Cheney got her ass kicked Tuesday in Wyoming. Good. She deserved it, as she was not just an anti-Trump Republican, but an anti-Republican Republican. However, it’s not the last we’ll hear from her.
On the general subject, popular Maryland Republican Governor Larry Hogan recently visited Iowa and is reportedly all but decided on a 2024 run in the GOP presidential primaries. Even Trump friendly war hero Republican Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas was recently in New Hampshire and Iowa. What gives? There’s blood in the water and it’s Trump’s.
Yes, the recent authoritarian FBI raid on Trump’s home got him massive sympathy from almost the entire Republican Party. He certainly looks like he’s going to run. But after that raid the DOJ almost has to indict Trump or it will prove the raid was a purely political maneuver. An indictment, though also obviously political, will give many Republicans serious questions on Trump’s electability. In fact, the Biden administration and its DOJ could schedule a trial during the 2024 campaign season.
Other Republicans can read those tea leaves and are acting accordingly. They are not declaring against Trump just yet. But they are doing spadework and keeping their options open if and when Trump stumbles or is indicted.
But let’s say Trump goes into 2024 relatively unscathed. A Hogan candidacy, a Cheney run less so, could open up a lane for a bigger beast like DeSantis or Cotton. In a one on one against DeSantis Republicans might eschew the drama and baggage and go for DeSantis.
Even if Trump wins the nomination, an independent run by Cheney could throw the election to a Democrat. Cheney could siphon off 15 percent of a Republican vote that Trump could not afford to lose. She says her only political goal now is to stop Trump in any way. That could do it. This kind of thing has happened before.
In 1912 the era of Republican dominance that had been prevalent since 1860 was still going strong. The Democrats were the party of the Confederacy and still paying for it. Incumbent Republican president William Howard Taft would have made short duty out of annoying pedant Woodrow Wilson, Governor of New Jersey. However, enter Teddy Roosevelt.
The former Republican president, and the man who put his veep Taft in office, could not stand being out of the spotlight. Plus he thought Taft too conservative. Teddy was an OG progressive. So he forms his own prog platform, the Bull Moose Party, and runs in the general election. He comes in second with 27 percent, even beating Taft, but giving the election to Wilson who arguably went on to become the worst president in American history. The anti-Wilson vote, Roosevelt and Taft combined, was 58 percent. That would have been enough for a solid victory for Taft if Roosevelt had stayed out.
Could Cheney do that to Trump in November of 2024? Yes. And she wouldn’t need 27 percent to do it. Could she do that to DeSantis? No. Republicans realize that and are preparing for a fight. Tallyho!