Ask any partisan operative or campaign reporter what the most important election in the country is this year, and you’ll likely hear a variety of responses. Some might point to gubernatorial races in states like Arizona, Pennsylvania, and Michigan, while others might highlight U.S. Senate races in states like Georgia, Wisconsin, Nevada, and Ohio.
But not Donald Trump. The former president held an event in Wyoming in May and said the nation’s “most important race“ was the Republicans’ U.S. House primary in the Cowboy State.
That primary is today, and as The New York Times reported, the outcome is not really in doubt.
Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming appears all but certain to lose her seat in the face of a furious Republican backlash against her role as co-chairwoman of the committee investigating the attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, and against her vote to impeach former President Donald J. Trump over his role in inciting that riot.
A separate Times article published last week noted that the incumbent congresswoman — up until last year, the chair of the House Republican Conference — faces so many threats that Cheney has had to alter her campaigning: “She no longer provides advance notice about her Wyoming travel and, not welcome at most county and state Republican events, has turned her campaign into a series of invite-only House parties.”
It’s a remarkable state of affairs: Less than two years ago, Cheney won re-election with nearly 69 percent of the vote, outpacing her Democratic rival by 44 points. Now, however, the GOP lawmaker faces so many threats from Trump’s radicalized followers that she has to curtail her campaigning in public.
With multiple polls suggesting Cheney is likely to lose in a landslide today, there’s already ample speculation about her next move — including the possibility of a presidential campaign in 2024, during which the Wyoming lawmaker would presumably try to convince her party to reembrace the rule of law and democracy.
Nearly 3,000 miles to the northwest, another Republican who’s drawn Trump’s ire is also seeking another term, though her future appears brighter. NBC News reported:
Both GOP Sen. Lisa Murkwoski and her Republican challenger, Kelly Tshibaka, are expected to advance past Tuesday’s primary thanks to the state’s new top four primary system. But that hasn’t stopped them from campaigning hard ahead of that vote. Under the new primary system, the top four vote-getters, regardless of party affiliation, advance to the November election. Murkowski, Tshibaka and Democrat Pat Chesbro, a retired educator who has the state party’s endorsement, are expected to advance.
Trump, of course, is backing Tshibaka and her far-right candidacy, but Alaska’s election reforms have been designed to assist more mainstream candidates, and thanks to ranked-choice balloting, Murkowski is generally seen as well positioned for the general election.
But just as notable is Alaska’s other big race today. NBC News also reported today:
Alaska’s new ranked choice voting system will be put to the test today in the special election to replace the late GOP Rep. Don Young. The race features two Republicans, former Gov. Sarah Palin and Nick Begich III, and former Democratic state Rep. Mary Peltola. There are also multiple write-in candidates, including Republican Tara Sweeney, who finished fifth in the June primary and launched a last-ditch write-in campaign on Friday.
For those unfamiliar with ranked-choice balloting — also known as instant-runoff balloting — the report added that voters simply rank the candidates in order of preference. If one candidate wins a majority in the first round, he or she wins.
If no one gets a majority, the last-place candidate is eliminated, and his or her supporters’ second-choice votes are allocated accordingly. If that still doesn’t produce a winner with a majority, then the next lowest vote-getter is eliminated, and so on.
Some patience will be necessary: NBC News added that Alaska election officials “won’t start the ranked choice voting rounds until 15 days after Election Day, on Aug. 31 (when absentee ballots from overseas are due).” Watch this space.