Sen. Mitt Romney headlining a fundraiser for Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, who faces an opponent endorsed by former President Donald Trump, isn’t unexpected. The two Western lawmakers have a lot in common.
Romney and Cheney are among a group of Republicans who voted to impeach or convict Trump following the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. Both repeatedly pushed back against Trump’s claims that the 2020 election was stolen.
Cheney is also one of two Republicans on a House panel investigating the insurrection. Romney said earlier this month that he believes the House committee effort is an important and legitimate effort. He also favored the creation of a bipartisan commission in the Senate, but the vote failed.
Romney is scheduled to be the featured guest at a March 14 fundraiser for Cheney at the home of Bobbie Kilberg, a well-connected Virginia Republican who lined up against Trump during his 2016 bid for the White House, according to an invitation seen by Reuters.
Other guests include Cheney’s father, former Vice President Dick Cheney; Scooter Libby, former chief of staff to Cheney; former U.S. solicitor general Ted Olson; Sheila Burke, former chief of staff to the late Kansas Sen. Bob Dole; and former Rep. Barbara Comstock, R-Va.
According to the invitation, general reception calls for a $1,000 contribution per person, while a photo reception seeks $5,800 per couple and a VIP reception goes $10,800 per couple.
Romney wasn’t available for comment about the fundraiser, according to his office.
Cheney and Romney are united in their insistence on telling the truth about the 2020 election, namely that there is no compelling evidence that Trump won or that the election was stolen, said Chris Karpowitz, co-director of the Center for the Study of Elections and Democracy at Brigham Young University.
“In this sense, they are both at the forefront of an effort to urge the Republican Party to move on from Donald Trump and accept the legitimacy of the election outcome,” Karpowitz said.
For that reason, he said, supporting each other in fundraising makes a great deal of sense.
“Right now, their perspectives about the future of the party represent a minority opinion among Republicans, so working together as they try to build support for their vision of the future is important for that reason, too,” Karpowitz said. “One important element of their argument is that their vision is much more in line with what used to be traditional conservative values.”
Romney has said the GOP has taken a different course under Trump and strayed from the principles he once knew. The senator said he doesn’t know where the party is headed and that he represents only a small slice of it today.
Despite their differences with Trump, Romney and Cheney largely voted for his policies during his term in office. Still, Republicans in their home states have rebuked Cheney and Romney over their impeachment votes.
The Wyoming GOP narrowly voted last November to no longer recognize Cheney as a Republican for voting to impeach Trump for his role in the Capitol riot. A resolution to censure Romney for his two votes to convict Trump failed at the Utah Republican Party convention last May, but state delegates booed him during the event.
The March fundraiser comes as Cheney faces a tough reelection battle for Wyoming’s only U.S. House seat. Trump has taken direct aim at Cheney and endorsed her Republican challenger, Harriet Hageman, a one-time Cheney supporter and family friend. The race will almost certainly determine the winner in the November general election in the conservative state.
Cheney, who is seeking a fourth term, has said her primary is “going to be the most important House race in the country in 2022.”
“It will be one where people do have the opportunity to say, ‘We want to stand for the Constitution,’” Cheney said during an interview with “60 Minutes” last September.
Romney defended Cheney last year when she called Trump’s election fraud claim a “big lie.”
“Every person of conscience draws a line beyond which they will not go: Liz Cheney refuses to lie,” the senator tweeted last May.
“As one of my Republican Senate colleagues said to me following my impeachment vote: ‘I wouldn’t want to be a member of a group that punished someone for following their conscience.’”
Romney voted twice to convict Trump in Senate impeachment trials — in February 2020 for abuse of power and in February 2021 for inciting an insurrection. Trump was acquitted in both trials.
Romney isn’t the only Utah member of Congress who has stood up for Cheney and planned to raise reelection funds with her.
Freshman Rep. Blake Moore voted to allow her to chairwoman of the House Republican Conference and the highest-ranking woman in the caucus after GOP leaders orchestrated her ouster last May. Utah other three Republican congressmen voted to remove Cheney.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., complained that Cheney’s constant readiness to call out Trump’s lies about the 2020 election was a distraction that prevented the party from unifying around a cohesive message to win back the House in 2020.
In response to her removal, Romney tweeted, “Expelling Liz Cheney from leadership won’t gain the GOP one additional voter, but it will cost us quite a few.”
Moore said at the time that Republican House candidates won big in 2020 due in part to the broad appeal, diversity and unique strengths of leaders across the party. Cheney, McCarthy and others represent the inclusivity that many voters appreciate, he said.
Last October, Moore invited Cheney to a campaign fundraiser in Salt Lake City. A flight delay ultimately prevented her from attending the $2,900 per person luncheon.
Moore wasn’t concerned about how teaming up with Cheney to raise money might appear to Trump loyalists who might have a problem with it.
“This isn’t a statement on President Trump in any way. This is just me having lunch with a colleague,” he said then.
Moore said he reached out to Cheney well before the 2020 election to start making relationships with House members who could help him get the committee assignments he believed were important to the district, which includes Hill Air Force Base. Cheney was instrumental in landing him on the House Armed Services Committee, of which she also is a member.
Moore said he has a great relationship with Cheney. He said the fundraising event with her wasn’t a big deal and that he did the same thing with Kevin McCarthy the month before.