Trump is still in charge of Republicans, says GOP strategist after Cheney ousting

U.S. Representative Liz Cheney (R-WY) speaks to the media as she arrives on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., May 12, 2021. Photo by REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein

Today Republican Liz Cheney was ousted from her position as Wyoming’s Congresswoman — after her continued criticism of former President Donald Trump and his claim that the 2020 election was stolen from him.

“Today we face a threat America has never seen before: A former president, who provoked a violent attack on this Capitol in an effort to steal the election, has resumed his aggressive effort to convince Americans that the election was stolen from him,” she said Tuesday night on the U.S. House floor. “I will not participate in that. I will not sit back and watch in silence while others lead our party down a path that abandons the rule of law and joins the former president’s crusade to undermine our democracy.”

The decision came after 15 minutes by voice vote, meaning it’s uncertain how many Republicans voted to oust Cheney. One of them, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California, has further aligned himself with Trump and made an extreme about face after supporting Cheney during a similar vote in February.

The vote makes it clear that Trump still holds major sway on the Republican party, says Luis Alvarado, a GOP strategist and former deputy press secretary for the California Republican Party.

“If there was any question of who is in charge of the Republican party, that was answered today. Donald Trump's in charge of the Republican Party, Donald Trump's in charge of the donor base, Donald Trump's in charge of the base. So he still calls the shots.”

Alvarado says the vote is also an example of what the party is prioritizing ahead of the 2022 midterm elections.

“Republicans made a mathematical calculation. Kevin McCarthy did what he thought was best for the party, and to maintain and possibly even take control of the lower house in 2022,” he says. “At the end of day, the job of the leadership is to ensure that they have control, so they can have control of the policies in the agenda. Right now, there's an opportunity for Republicans to still elevate their voice in the 2020 election. The question is going to be: How do they maintain a working mechanism? And so far, the mechanism has Donald Trump branding.”

He says that for Republicans in moderate regions such as California, it will be critical to toe the fine line between asking for the blessing from the greater party and not attacking Trump.

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