Feb 26, 2021 - Politics & Policy

McCarthy won't say if he'll get involved in a primary race against Cheney

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif. and House Republican Conference Chair Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., talk as other members speak to reporters after the House GOP caucus meeting

Photo: Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) on Friday declined to say whether he would get involved in a primary race against Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) when asked by reporters during a weekly press conference.

Why it matters: Tensions between the two House leaders highlight fractures in the Republican Party that will be on full display as the party struggles to define itself in the post-Trump era.

What he's saying: "Liz hasn't asked me," McCarthy said when a reporter asked whether he'd defend Cheney in a primary challenge.

Background: Cheney received intense scrutiny after voting to impeach former President Trump, including from state Sen. Anthony Bouchard, who announced he plans to run against Cheney in the 2022 primary.

  • Cheney also faced backlash from her own conference. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) flew to Cheney's home state to rally against the third-ranking Republican House member.
  • House Republicans lobbied to remove Cheney from her position, but the measure was defeated. Members voted 145-61 to keep Cheney as chair of the GOP conference.
  • Former Trump aide Corey Lewandowski founded a political group to raise money to run a primary challenge against Cheney.

Of note: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) came to Cheney's defense after her impeachment vote, CNN reported.

  • "Liz Cheney is a leader with deep convictions and the courage to act on them," McConnell said. "She is an important leader in our party and in our nation. I am grateful for her service and look forward to continuing to work with her on the crucial issues facing our nation."
Go deeper