US Representative Liz Cheney, a fierce Republican critic of Donald Trump, the former president who played a prominent role in the congressional probe of the January 6 Capitol riots, lost to a Trump-backed primary challenger on Tuesday, according to election monitoring firm, Edison Research.
However, US Senator Lisa Murkowski, another Republican who had defied Trump, cleared a hurdle in Alaska. Edison Research's predictions showed that she would advance with three other candidates to stand for election to Congress in November.
Cheney's defeat to Harriet Hageman marks a significant victory for the former president in his campaign to oust Republicans who had been in favour of impeaching him, after a mob of his supporters stormed the Capitol building last year.
With 18 per cent of the expected ballots counted, Hageman led the Republican field with 65.1 per cent of the vote, followed by Cheney with 30.3 per cent, Edison Research said.
In conceding the race, Cheney told supporters that she was not willing to "go along with President Trump's lie about the 2020 election" to win a primary.
"It would have required that I enable his ongoing efforts to unravel our democratic system and attack the foundations of our republic. That was a path I could not, and would not, take," she added.
In Alaska, Edison projected that Murkowski would advance to the November election to face another Republican Trump-backed candidate, Kelly Tshibaka. The polls for that primary — a nonpartisan format in which the top four vote-getters advance to the general election — have not yet closed.
Both Wyoming and Alaska are reliably Republican, making it unlikely that either's result will influence whether President Joe Biden's Democrats lose their razor-thin majorities in Congress. Republicans are expected to retake the House, and also have a chance of winning control of the Senate.
The ousting of Cheney is nevertheless the latest sign of Trump's enduring sway over the Republican Party. Trump, who has hinted that he will run for president in 2024, made ending Cheney's congressional career a priority among the 10 House Republicans targeted for supporting his impeachment in 2021.
Cheney, the daughter of Republican former vice president Dick Cheney, has used her position, on the congressional committee investigating the January 6 attack, to keep attention on Trump's actions around the Capitol riot, and his false claims about the 2020 election — in a bid to persuade fellow Republicans the former president was a threat to democracy.
Cheney, in the House, had voted to impeach Trump on a charge of inciting the Capitol riots, while Murkowski, in the Senate, had voted to convict him on that charge. Trump was ultimately acquitted.
Hageman, a natural resources lawyer who has embraced Trump's election lies, criticised Cheney's concession speech, saying it showed she cared little about the issues facing her state.
"She's still focusing on an obsession about President Trump and the citizens of Wyoming; the voters of Wyoming sent a very loud message tonight," Hageman said, on Fox News.
Republican leaders are expected to dissolve the Jan. 6 investigation if they win control of the House in November. The representatives in the new Congress take their seats in January.
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