WASHINGTON — Multiple prominent Democrats have thrown financial support behind Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., — one of 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach former President Donald Trump in the wake of the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, Federal Election Commission filings show.
“The Trump era has made for some very strange political bedfellows,” said J. Miles Coleman, associate editor of election analysis newsletter “Sabato’s Crystal Ball.” “You have this old guard of the Republican Party — the Cheneys and Bushes — whose names have some weight, but that’s just not where the Republican Party is today.”
Thomas “Mack” McLarty, who served as former President Bill Clinton’s first chief of staff, donated $1000 to Cheney’s campaign on Nov. 1, according to FEC donation records. His wife, Donna, contributed the same amount on the same day.
McLarty is perhaps best known for his shepherding of the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act in his capacity as White House chief of staff.
In addition to Cheney, McLarty has donated significant amounts to the Democratic National Committee and Sens. Ed Markey, D-Mass., and Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.
Margot and John Pritzker — members of the billionaire Pritzker family and relatives of Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, D, — contributed $2,900 and $10,800 to the congresswoman’s “Team Cheney” political action committee, respectively.
Gov. Pritzker was a national co-chair of Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential run, and his sister, Penny, served as secretary of Commerce during the Obama administration after backing the 44th president in his 2008 campaign.
Both family members who gave to Cheney’s PAC have in the past donated to campaigns of liberals such as Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., former Rep. Beto O’Rourke, D-Texas, and Clinton herself.
Because of her opposition to the GOP’s current state, Coleman said, Cheney has garnered “support from the ‘resistance wing’ of the Democratic Party.”
“People like Cheney, [2020 South Carolina Senate candidate Jaime] Harrison and [2020 Kentucky Senate candidate] Amy McGrath have come up with huge sums of money,” Coleman said, “but it hasn’t moved the needle much in any of those races.”
Cheney — a member of the select committee investigating Jan. 6 — was ousted as GOP conference chair in May and censured by both the Wyoming GOP and the Republican National Committee.
Shana Gadarian, political science chair at Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, said Cheney’s support among Democrats comes from profound concern about America’s political culture.
“For normal politics to go on,” Gadarian said, “we need a Republican Party that is headed by someone and that has people in its rank and file who support taking back normal politics.”
“The donor class pays a lot of attention to politics and knows that normal competition is important for upkeeping democracy,” Gadarian continued, “and that’s why I think they’ve started to support Cheney — she’s not only been criticized by members of her own party but has now been censured by her own party.”
University of Buffalo professor James Campbell, though, argued that Cheney’s status as the national Republican Party’s bête noire provides the Democrats with an opportunity to knock the GOP down a peg and score a partisan victory for the left.
“Our politics now are so national,” Campbell said, “and [Cheney] has become such a national political figure that a lot of Democrats would like to embarrass Republicans with by pulling out an upset in Wyoming.”
Despite losing her leadership status, Cheney raised upwards of $7.1 million during 2021, including $2.05 million in last year’s final quarter.
Her most notable challenger, the Trump-endorsed Harriet Hageman, brought in just over $745 thousand between launching her campaign on September 9 and the end of 2021, FEC receipts show.
Cheney’s office did not respond to requests for comment.