- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 3, 2022

University of Massachusetts Boston professor Marc Cohen said if someone told him over a decade ago that he would be sending money across the country to help Rep. Liz Cheney’s reelection campaign, he would have asked: “What are you smoking?”

Indeed, the idea of Mr. Cohen or any other true-blue Democrat pitching in to help Ms. Cheney, a daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, would have been hard to fathom a few years ago given the family’s conservative brand of politics.

Mr. Cohen said his thinking shifted after watching the Republican Party become beholden to Donald Trump and his claims of a stolen election.

“People like Rep. Cheney deserve to know that there are people who may not share all of their political views but appreciate their willingness to stand on principle,” Mr. Cohen said. “These are people who have taken the principled stand. They don’t know how much they are going to pay for it, and they deserve to be supported and rewarded for being — it almost sounds cliche — like true patriots.”

The 64-year-old gerontology professor said he is concerned that the Republican Party is growing less interested in respecting democratic institutions, public service and the rule of law.

Support from Democrats like Mr. Cohen has turned Ms. Cheney into a fundraising juggernaut for this year’s midterm elections. It more than made up for the financial backing she lost from being one of 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Mr. Trump in 2021 and emerging as one of the loudest anti-Trump voices in the party.

Alienated by House Republican leaders and most rank-and-file members, Ms. Cheney stayed in the spotlight with her role as vice chair of the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.

The 55-year-old congresswoman from Wyoming also softened her image in the eyes of Democrats and moderate Republican voters by expressing regret for coming out against gay marriage in 2013. That decision soured her relationship with her sister, who is gay.

Joey Correnti, chair of the Republican Party in Carbon County, Wyoming, said Ms. Cheney’s actions are “calculated” attempts to build a coalition of middle-of-the-road Republicans as well as Democrats and liberals in the state.

“I am never going to say Liz Cheney is stupid or doesn’t know what she is doing,” he said. “I think she is very intelligent and knows exactly what she is doing.”

The approach is working on the fundraising front. Democrats across the country joined establishment and neoconservative Republicans supporting Ms. Cheney. The Republicans include former President George W. Bush, his brother, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah and his wife, Ann, and John R. Bolton, who was a national security adviser in the Trump White House.

Ms. Cheney this week reported raising $2.05 million in the fourth quarter of last year, pushing her annual fundraising haul north of $7.1 million and giving her $4.7 million in cash on hand, according to campaign finance reports.

Her closest rival, Trump-backed Harriet Hageman, has raised $745,000 and has $381,000 in cash on hand.

Ms. Cheney’s biggest financial support has come from California, $428,000; Virginia, $351,000; and New York, $300,000, followed by Florida, $291,000; Texas, $222,000; and the District of Columbia, $191,000.

Rounding out the top seven jurisdictions for Ms. Cheney is Wyoming, where she has received 167 donations totaling $176,000.

That gives her a slight home-court edge over Ms. Hageman, who has raised $175,000 in Wyoming through 114 donations.

Ms. Cheney also could benefit from Democratic support at the ballot box. Wyoming law requires Republicans to hold open primaries for congressional and statewide offices and allows Democrats to change their party affiliation on the day of the primary election.

Ms. Cheney declined to comment for this report.

Ms. Cheney’s record of voting with Mr. Trump 93% of the time in the House matters as little to some of her Democratic donors as it does to Mr. Trump, who has been casting her as a warmongering wretch in response to her outspoken criticism.

Mr. Cohen said he has come to respect her grit.

“I don’t agree with a single policy prescription that Liz Cheney has put forward, I don’t think, but it is irrelevant,” he said. “I admire her because of the courage of her convictions.”

A well-heeled Democratic donor with ties to Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer of New York said he gave $1,000 to Ms. Cheney, and likely will give more, because she “is the only person I’m seeing and hearing who is saying, ‘You can’t tell a lie.’”

“It is just shocking to me that [more Republicans] are not standing up for democracy,” he said, asking not to be identified discussing his support for a Republican. “Where are the Republicans now? It is embarrassing. Do they not know the election was not rigged?”

Mr. Trump has been speaking out against Ms. Cheney since she voted to impeach him on charges of inciting the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol.

Mr. Trump is positioned to dole out money during the midterm races. His political committees ended last year with $122 million in the bank, giving him more money than the Republican National Committee and the Democratic National Committee combined.

Some of that money is expected to be funneled into efforts to unseat Ms. Cheney, who remains on bad terms with much of her party.

House Republicans booted Ms. Cheney from leadership positions, and the Wyoming Republican Party voted to expel her.

The Republican National Committee is considering a resolution this week at its winter meeting in Salt Lake City that calls for Ms. Cheney and Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, another vocal Trump critic, to endorse their ouster from the House Republican Conference.

The attempts to alienate Ms. Cheney have energized Mr. Trump’s supporters. They also made her appealing in the eyes of some Democratic donors.

“Too few in government have the courage that she has shown,” said Lawrence Lessig, a professor at Harvard Law School and government reform activist who donated $1,000 to Ms. Cheney’s campaign. “More should be willing to stand with that courage, substantive differences notwithstanding.”

Mr. Lessig said he taught Ms. Cheney decades ago when she was a student at the University of Chicago but never considered donating to her previous campaigns.

“Because, frankly, I never supported the idea of her prevailing in any race, since until this race, her prevailing has only ever involved a right versus left context,” Mr. Lessig said in an email. “This election is different: Whether you’re on the right or left, you should support those who are defending the rule of law versus the rule of Trump.”

Mr. Correnti, the Carbon County Republican Party chairman, said he is not surprised that Ms. Cheney has become a cause celebre for some out-of-state Democrats. He said she is using the “hatred of Donald Trump” to attract voters and such support underscores her shortcomings as a lawmaker.

“The reason they are not worried about policy is she has not been effective on policy, and all they want is to bash Donald Trump,” he said. “If she was terribly effective in the policy she was doing, they would not be giving her a dime.”

• Seth McLaughlin can be reached at smclaughlin@washingtontimes.com.

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