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Liz Cheney concedes defeat in Wyoming primary

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Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., vice chair of the House select committee investigating the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, was projected to lose her seat in Tuesday's primary. File Photo by Pat Benic/UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/fbb0dbac6b6cf0da6cfec48b04364d69/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., vice chair of the House select committee investigating the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, was projected to lose her seat in Tuesday's primary. File Photo by Pat Benic/UPI | License Photo

Aug. 16 (UPI) -- Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney conceded defeat over her House seat during Tuesday's primary as Harriet Hageman, a candidate endorsed by former President Donald Trump, was projected to win their party's nomination.

Hageman was projected to win the primary race shortly after polls closed with nearly 60% of the vote compared to Cheney's 37%, according to projections by The Washington Post and CNN.

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Two states held primary elections on Tuesday with both testing Trump's grip on the Republican Party as Cheney and fellow moderate Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, both of whom voted to hold him accountable for inciting the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol attack, are on the ballot.

Alaska and Wyoming voters on Tuesday are among those in the last nine states to hold primaries before Election Day on Nov. 8, as Trump is facing a criminal investigation related to his removing classified documents from the White House and potential violation of the Espionage Act.

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Wyoming

Cheney, 56, recalled the words of her father -- former Vice President Dick Cheney, who served for two terms under President George W. Bush -- as she delivered remarks on Tuesday night following the results.

"He said to me, 'standing up for truth honors all who gave all' and I have thought of his words every single day since then," she said. "I thought of them because they are a reminder of how we must all conduct ourselves. We must conduct ourselves in a way that is worthy of the men and women who wear uniforms of this nation and in particular, of those who have given the ultimate sacrifice.

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Perhaps no other Republican in the United States has been a bigger symbol of the party's anti-Trump legion than Cheney, who was first elected in 2016.

Cheney was one of 10 Republicans in the House who voted to impeach Trump for inciting the Jan. 6 attack and is one of only two Republicans on the House's Jan. 6 committee. As vice chair of the committee, she has repeatedly said that all members of Congress must do whatever is necessary to make sure Trump is never elected again.

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Her opposition made her a prime target for Trump and also led to censures from the Wyoming GOP and the national Republican Party over her vote to impeach the former president.

On Tuesday night, Cheney said that "this is not a game" and that "every one of us must be committed to defending America, as she thanked her staff and declared that "our work is far from over."

A flag and political poster make clear one Wyoming resident's feelings about Rep. Liz Cheney at a trailer park in Green Rive, Wyo., on July 11. File Photo by Terry Schmitt/UPI

Hageman, who placed third in a GOP primary for governor in 2018, previously supported Cheney and tried to block the Republican Party from nominating Trump in 2016.

However, she has since done an about face and is now in lockstep with the former president. Hageman has said Cheney "betrayed Wyoming" with her impeachment vote and has supported Trump's false claims that the 2020 election was stolen.

Three other candidates dropped out of the race shortly after Trump endorsed Hageman a year ago, setting up the tight race with Cheney.

State Sen. Anthony Bouchard was also on the ballot but has seen his support decline after it came to light that he had sex with a 14-year-old girl when he was 18. The girl later died by suicide.

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Republican Gov. Mark Gordon was also projected to advance to November's election where he will face off against Democratic challenger Theresa Livingston.

Lynette GreyBull also was projected to win the Democratic House party, besting Steven Helling and Meghan Jensen.

Alaska

Sen. Lisa Murkowski was projected early Wednesday to be one of four candidates to advance to November's election.

With an estimated 50% of votes counted, Murkowski led the 19-candidate pack with 42.7% of the vote share, representing fewer than 500 votes ahead of her nearest challenger, Trump-backed Republican Kelly Tshibaka, a former Alaska state official.

Murkowski has a long record as a moderate Republican that includes supporting abortion rights, voting to support the Affordable Care Act and voting with President Joe Biden 69% of the time since he has been in office -- including a vote to confirm new Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson.

Murkowski was one of seven Republican senators who voted to convict Trump of inciting the Jan. 6 Capitol attack. The final vote was 57-43 in favor of conviction -- but fell short of the required supermajority of two-thirds, or 67 votes.

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Murkowski was widely expected to survive Tuesday's primary challenge due to the state's newly adopted primary system, which places all candidates for office on the same primary ballot, regardless of party affiliation.

The top four candidates will advance to the Nov. 8 general election in a new ranked choice voting process. Tuesday's voting should indicate whether Murkowski has the support to hold onto the seat in November.

"There's no great anticipation about whether or not Lisa Murkowski is going to advance. So, it does have a different feel," Murkowski told The Washington Post.

Democrat Pat Chesbro, a retired principal and schools superintendent who has received the party's endorsement, is also expected to be a front-runner to advance. As of early Wednesday, Chesbro was sitting in third with a vote share of 6.2%.

Tuesday also featured a special election in Alaska to fill the House seat left open by the death of GOP Rep. Don Young earlier this year.

The race was expected to be a tight one among three candidates -- Republican businessman Nick Begich III, Democratic former state Rep. Mary Peltola and former Gov. Sarah Palin, who is also a former GOP vice presidential candidate.

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Palin led the pack in June's primary, winning 27% of the vote, followed by Begich with 19% and independent Al Gross with 13%. Gross, however, dropped out and advanced Peltola, who won 10%, as the only non-Republican on the ballot. With Gross out of the race, Peltola is hoping to pick up his supporters.

Early Wednesday, Pelotola led with 34.4% of the vote followed closely by Palin, who had 32.1% and Begich with 27.2%.

All three finalists in the special election are also on the ballot as candidates in the House primary, where they are expected to advance to November's general election.

Republican Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy also faced a serious challenge after surviving a recall campaign that was stalled by the COVID-19 pandemic in the state, where no incumbent governor has won re-election since 1998.

Dunleavy, who has been endorsed by Trump, secured 42.3% of the vote by early Wednesday with an estimated 50% of votes counted. Independent former Gov. Bill Walker and Democratic former state Rep. Les Gara were essentially tied at second with each securing 21.6% of the vote with many more ballots to count.

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