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Tipsheet

Kevin McCarthy: Liz Cheney's Primary Will Be a 'Referendum' on January 6 Select Committee

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

Today's the day. As Matt and Spencer highlighted earlier on Tuesday, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) is likely to lose her seat in tonight's primary against Harriet Hageman. The primary challenger has the backing not just of former President Donald Trump, but House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) as well, who has been campaigning for Hageman. During an interview with Fox News, McCarthy aptly pointed out that Cheney's likely loss will be a "referendum" on her serving as vice-chair on the January 6 select committee:

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McCarthy predicted that "I don’t think that she’s [Cheney’s] going to win" and "I think it’s going to be a referendum on the January 6 Committee." And pointing to inflation, a top issue with Americans, the House GOP leader asked, "Why wouldn't Cheney spend her time on that? Why wouldn't she spend her time focusing on what people across America feel the hardest about?"

"The principle philosophy is less government, an idea of freedom in the aspect that just the concepts of a country that's conceived in liberty and dedicated proposition that we're all it has," McCarthy emphasized.

And McCarthy argued that "I think her whole focus has been different. Her whole focus has been against one individual, whether she has information or not, instead of focusing on her district itself." 

Fox News sought comment from Cheney, but her response, or lack thereof, merely served to further illustrate how out-of-touch she appears to be with her constituents. The congresswoman told Fox News that "it’s really difficult to understand that word salad. Was there an actual sentence in there somewhere?"

Speaking of representing one's district, McCarthy said that "Harriet [Hageman] is an amazing candidate" and that "what I like to focus on is people who focus on the issues on their district. And that's what Harriet's been doing."

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It's not merely McCarthy who thinks as much about the January 6 select committee. Last month's polling from the Casper-Star Tribune found that 64 percent of voters disapprove of "Liz Cheney's decision to serve on the Jan. 6 committee," and 54 percent said it made them less likely to vote for her. When asked if "Liz Cheney's opposition to Trump affected her ability to deal with the important Wyoming issues," 61 percent said it did.  That poll has just been one of many showing Hageman with a commanding leader over Cheney. 

Anecdotal evidence from that poll's findings, as well as from Wyoming voters who spoke to CNN, indicate Cheney's constituents are not pleased with her role on the select committee.

Cheney is one of two Republicans on the select committee, the other being Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), who is arguably just as anti-Trump. He's choosing to retire rather than lose, after Illinois State Democrats pretty much redistricted his seat out of existence. It's worth emphasizing, though, that Cheney and Kinzinger were both selected by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), and that no members selected by the minority serve on the select committee.

Leader McCarthy had named Republicans to serve, but Pelosi vetoed Reps. Jim Jordan (R-OH) and Jim Banks (R-IN), which resulted in McCarthy pulling all of his picks. 

When it comes to Cheney serving, McCarthy told reporters at the time that he was "shocked" that she accepted Pelosi's invitation to serve, wondering "maybe [Cheney's] closer to [Pelosi] than us. I don’t know."

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Cheney had also found herself in conflict with fellow Republicans even earlier last year. That May she was ousted in a vote from her position as the chairwoman of the House Republican Conference and replaced by Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY), who still holds that position. 

McCarthy's comments also highlight a long history of Cheney seeming to turn her back on the Republican Party and her own constituents. The issue is not so much that she spoke out against Trump, though her constituents don't seem to appreciate that, considering the single-district state voted for him with 69.5 percent in 2020. Rather, Cheney made that her focus, rather than getting fellow Republicans elected. It became a distraction.

With Cheney almost certain to lose her primary tonight, and then out of office come next January, she will, with any hope, not be such a distraction any longer. While she may run in 2024, Cheney is almost certain to lose that race as well. 

Another takeaway from the interview is that McCarthy expects Republicans to win back control of the U.S. House of Representatives, and for him to be the next Speaker of the House. 

Such remarks were picked up by The Hill and POLITICO's Congressional Minutes for Tuesday, with the latter seeking to harp on another matter, should Republicans indeed take control of at least the House, as they are predicted to do:

Parsing his words: Politicians frequently call midterm elections a "referendum" on the current president, it’s more of a rarity to see it cited in reference to committee work. And interestingly, despite his talk of focusing on local needs, McCarthy and other House GOP lawmakers have indicated plans to investigate the panel if they regain the majority this fall.

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Such an excerpt is worth mentioning, as it highlights the mainstream media being out-of-touch with how everyday Americans want accountability from Democrats and RINOs, including when it comes to the select committee. 

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