Who is Harriet Hageman, the Trump-backed candidate who beat Liz Cheney?

In many ways, Tuesday’s GOP primary battle for Wyoming’s at-large congressional seat was a war — by proxy — between former President Donald Trump and someone he deems disloyal.

But the former president’s hand-picked choice to take on Trump’s harshest GOP critic — Rep. Liz Cheney — is especially noteworthy for earning Trump’s backing after also once denouncing him.

Former Cheney adviser and never-Trumper Harriet Hageman has won the endorsement of the man she called “the weakest candidate” in 2016, joining other Republicans in attempting to undermine his nomination at that year’s Republican national convention.

PHOTO: Wyoming Republican congressional candidate Harriet Hageman waves as she takes a picture with children during a primary election night party, Aug. 16, 2022, in Cheyenne, Wyo.
Wyoming Republican congressional candidate Harriet Hageman waves as she takes a picture with children during a primary election night party, Aug. 16, 2022, in Cheyenne, Wyo. Hageman, who is backed by former President Donald Trump, defeated Rep. Liz Cheney in their GOP primary.
Michael Smith/Getty Images

On Tuesday, as expected, the natural resources attorney who ran an unsuccessful primary bid for Wyoming’s Republican gubernatorial nomination in 2018 clinched her race against longstanding Wyoming political royalty in one of the most watched races in the nation, an indication of how strongly voters turn out around Trump’s unsubstantiated claims of election fraud — in a state he won with some 70% in 2020.

Previously called Trump ‘racist and xenophobic’

Trump’s memory is short when it comes to endorsing candidates who have flip-flopped from being critical of him to becoming stark defenders. Hageman is no different. In 2016, she condemned Trump as a “racist and xenophobic” candidate who would repel voters Republicans needed to win a national election.

She backed Texas Sen. Ted Cruz for the Republican presidential nomination, joining with other Cruz supporters at the GOP convention in Cleveland — when she was a Wyoming delegate — to force a vote on the floor to block Trump’s ascension. Cheney supported Trump’s 2016 campaign.

Hageman has not publicly addressed those efforts, but has briefly mentioned her past opposition to Trump, telling the New York Times in 2021 that she “heard and believed the lies the Democrats and Liz Cheney’s friends in the media were telling at the time.”

“But that is ancient history as I quickly realized that their allegations against President Trump were untrue,” Hageman said.

“He was the greatest president of my lifetime, and I am proud to have been able to renominate him in 2020. And I’m proud to strongly support him today.”

Hageman earned Trump’s backing after Cheney, along with nine other GOP House members, voted to impeach him.

PHOTO: Republican candidate U.S. Representative Liz Cheney looks on during her primary election night party in Jackson, Wyo. Aug. 16, 2022.
Republican candidate U.S. Representative Liz Cheney looks on during her primary election night party in Jackson, Wyo. Aug. 16, 2022.
David Stubbs/Reuters

A long history as an anti-conservationist

The daughter of a longtime Wyoming state legislator, Hageman, 59, was born and raised on a small ranch outside Fort Laramie, Wyoming. She’s married to Cheyenne-based malpractice attorney John Sundhal.

After earning a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Wyoming and a juris doctor degree from the University of Wyoming College of Law, she worked as a law clerk for federal appeals judge before building a decades-long career as a water and natural resources lawyer throughout Wyoming, Nebraska and Colorado.

Hageman has long sparred with environmentalists over her anti-conservation record, a background that earned her the title “Wicked Witch of the West” — something she embraced. She became known in Wyoming for suing federal agencies over land use decisions and a successful battle to end a Clinton-era policy to halt road construction on millions of acres of federal land.

She claims to have “stopped the EPA from seizing control of our irrigation infrastructure and operations,” and prevented the USDA from enforcing the registration of all ranches with the federal government.

PHOTO: In this June 14, 2022, file photo, Republican congressional candidate Harriet Hageman meets attendees at a rally at the Teton County Fair & Rodeo Grounds in Jackson, Wyoming.
In this June 14, 2022, file photo, Republican congressional candidate Harriet Hageman meets attendees at a rally at the Teton County Fair & Rodeo Grounds in Jackson, Wyoming.
Natalie Behring/Getty Images, FILE

“I have been fighting back against Federal agencies that try to usurp our rights with overbearing regulations. I’ve never allowed my Conservative values to be shaken in the face of Left-Wing ideologues,” she has written on her website.

Her political career began with her campaign for governor in the 2018 election — a race in which her past as a natural resources attorney influenced her attempts to win the Republican nomination.

When campaigning, Hageman was vocal in her support for transferring control of public lands to states, which caused blowback in Wyoming’s robust hunting, outdoor recreation and conservation communities. The Wyoming Hunters and Anglers Alliance, then a rising hunting and public lands advocacy group, endorsed Hageman’s then-opponent and current Wyoming GOP Gov. Mark Gordon, because of her views on public land transfer, according to High Country News.​

If Hageman beats Cheney and scores a general election victory in November, she’d likely aim for a position on a House Committee with jurisdiction over energy development on public lands and wildlife. And if successful, she could continue to push back against conservation efforts and possibly dismantle provisions established by the EPA, Fish & Wildlife Service, Forestry Service, and the Dept. of Agriculture — something she has spoken proudly about on previous podcasts and at rallies.

But before her failed gubernatorial bid, Hageman served as an adviser to Cheney’s short-lived 2014 Senate campaign. She then endorsed and stumped for Cheney’s 2016 congressional campaign.

Voters embraced Hageman, despite her past

Trouble loomed for Cheney, who trailed Hageman by 29 points in a University of Wyoming poll released this week.

Outside an early voting site in Jackson, Wyoming, on Monday, Horton Spitzer — a retired rancher and staunch Trump supporter — after voting for Hageman, said he believes Cheney’s political career is over.

“There’s a visceral hatred. And this is gonna drive people to the polls. The code of the West says ride for the brand. If you don’t you then take your saddle, take your cowdog, walk into the sunset and never come back,” he said.

Hageman’s flip-flopping in first opposing then supporting Trump means little to many GOP voters ABC News spoke with as the election grew near.

“Cheney represented herself as a total as a conservative. Well, I think she is totally a RINO,” said Wyoming GOP voter Fred Skorcz.

“In fact, the Republican Party has pretty much ousted her. And Harriet seems to be a true conservative. She’s multi-generation from Wyoming. She knows the issues. She knows the people. And I think that she would do everything she can to help our state and not just the state, but the country as well.”

Cheney’s agreement score with Trump was very high, 93% better than several of her critics, including that of Rep. Elise Stefanik, the New York Republican who ousted her as the No. 3 House Republican, professor Jim King of the University of Wyoming told ABC News.

But Cheney turning on Trump is something voters couldn’t seem to overlook in this contest.

“I did vote for Liz in the last elections that she ran for. And at that time, I was very happy with what she was doing. But I just don’t think that she cares about Wyoming. I think she cares more about what she’s doing in Washington,” said another Hageman voter outside an early voting site in Jackson, Wyoming, on Monday.

“There was a time that I told her that I would vote for her for president. I rescind that with a vengeance.”

If Cheney is able to eek out a primary win Tuesday, it will be in large part because of efforts to persuade Wyoming Democrats to temporarily change their voter registration status and cast their ballots for her — a trend many forecasters say won’t be enough of the vote to make a critical difference.

“I was Republican until about ’80 till about ’94. And then I was a Democrat until today,” said Prichard, a Cheney voter in Jackson.

“The Republican Party is going a little too far to the right. And, you know, it seems it’s pretty scary situation, the way they sort of twist the facts and make up things and I just felt like [Cheney] was the one who was standing up for her, her beliefs and I have to go along with her on that.”

ABC News’ Brittany Shepherd, Lalee Ibssa and Tracy Wholf contributed to this report.

Source: ABC News

A tech blog author and superhero who writes about technology and its impact on society, business, and everyday life

Related Posts

Subject of ‘Serial’ podcast could have murder conviction vacated, walk free

Adnan Syed, who was the subject of 2014’s wildly popular podcast “Serial,” is set to appear in a Baltimore courtroom on Monday after prosecutors requested that his 2000 murder conviction…

Read more

Biden comments on American hostage in Afghanistan released in prisoner swap

Mark Frerichs — the last-known American hostage being held by the Taliban — has been released in a prisoner exchange, President Joe Biden confirmed in a statement on Monday. “His…

Read more

Biden closes door on COVID, opens one on 2024: The Note

The TAKE with Rick Klein On at least one very big point, President Joe Biden was definitive. “The pandemic is over,” he said on “60 Minutes” in an interview that…

Read more

Tom Barrack case: Jury selection to begin in trial of former Trump fundraiser

Jury selection begins Monday in the trial of Tom Barrack, the billionaire fundraiser for former President Donald Trump who is charged with illegally lobbying for the United Arab Emirates while…

Read more

President Joe Biden, first lady Jill Biden pay their respects to Queen Elizabeth ahead of funeral

President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden on Sunday paid their respects to Queen Elizabeth II as world leaders gathered in London ahead of the late monarch’s state funeral….

Read more

‘This Week’ Transcript 9-18-22: Mayor Eric Adams, Mayor Oscar Leeser and Amb. Oksana Markarova

A rush transcript of “This Week with George Stephanopoulos” airing on Sunday, September 18, 2022 on ABC News is below. This copy may not be in its final form, may…

Read more

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *