Representative Liz Cheney, a Republican of Wyoming whose polling remains far behind her Trump-endorsed primary challenger as her House committee’s Jan. 6 hearings continue, is urging Democrats in her home state to switch parties to support her in the Aug. 16 primary.
In the last week, Wyoming Democrats have received mail from Ms. Cheney’s campaign with specific instructions on how to change their party affiliation to vote for her. Ms. Cheney’s campaign website now has a link to a form for changing parties.
Joseph Barbuto, the chairman of the Wyoming Democratic Party, was among those who received Ms. Cheney’s instructions. Mr. Barbuto said that over the last week, his social media feeds have been flooded with Democrats — and only Democrats — posting about receiving mailers from the Cheney campaign.
“I haven’t had any Republicans share online or tell me that they received it,” Mr. Barbuto said on Thursday.
The Themes of the Jan. 6 House Committee Hearings
Recruiting Democratic support has been a sensitive topic for Ms. Cheney since she voted to impeach former President Donald J. Trump following the Jan. 6, 2021, attack. She has cast her August primary contest with Harriet Hageman, who is allied with and endorsed by Mr. Trump, as a battle for the soul of the Republican Party. Recruiting Democrats to that fight could undermine those efforts.
In a February interview in Cheyenne, Wyo., Ms. Cheney dismissed the possibility that she would make a concerted effort to reach out to Democrats asking them to change parties ahead of the primary.
“That is not something that I have contemplated, that I have organized or that I will organize,” Ms. Cheney told The New York Times then, adding that she would “work hard for every single vote.”
Her spokesman, Jeremy Adler, said on Thursday that Ms. Cheney was “proud to represent all Wyomingites and is working hard to earn every vote.”
Ms. Hageman’s campaign said Ms. Cheney’s attempt to recruit Democrats represented a political flip-flop.
“Liz Cheney told The New York Times that she wouldn’t be encouraging Democrats to raid the Republican primary, but I guess the drive to hold onto power is just too strong for her to keep her word,” said Carly Miller, Ms. Hageman’s campaign manager. “What Cheney doesn’t understand is that Democrats will drop her like a bad habit after she’s no longer useful to them on the Jan. 6 committee.”
Ms. Cheney’s tenure on the committee investigating the Capitol attack was a major topic of conversation at the Wyoming Democratic Party’s convention this month in Rock Springs, Mr. Barbuto said. He characterized Democrats as appreciative of her service on the committee, but said that they would not forget that “she still has a voting record that was, 97 percent of the time, with Donald Trump while he was in office.”
It is fairly typical for moderate Wyoming Republicans to recruit Democrats to switch parties ahead of primaries — it was key to Gov. Mark Gordon’s victory over a primary field that included Ms. Hageman in 2018. Democrats and independents can change their party affiliations by mail up to 14 days before the primary, or they can do so at the polls on Election Day.
Between January and June, the number of registered Republicans in Wyoming increased by 1,689, while the number of Democrats and unaffiliated voters dropped by a total of 1,303, according to data from the Wyoming secretary of state’s office. There are more than four times as many registered Republicans as there are Democrats in the state.
Mr. Barbuto said he had heard of more Democrats planning to switch parties this year than in the past, but he predicted it would not be enough to help Ms. Cheney survive the anger of the state’s Republican primary voters.
“Even if every Democrat in the state switched over,” he said, “I don’t think it’d be enough to help her.”