Led by Representatives Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, they are pushing to thwart a comeback of the ex-president’s political movement.
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Representatives Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, both Republicans, are campaigning against supporters of former President Donald J. Trump who are seeking office.
Republican opponents of former President Donald J. Trump are stepping up their efforts to thwart a comeback of his political movement next week, even if that means endorsing and campaigning for Democrats and independents in key states and House districts.
Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming, arguably the most prominent Republican critic of Mr. Trump, plans to be in East Lansing, Mich., Tuesday evening to campaign for an embattled Democrat, Representative Elissa Slotkin, perhaps the most bold of a series of moves by Mr. Trump’s opponents.
Representative Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, Ms. Cheney’s only Republican colleague on the House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol, campaigned late last month in Salt Lake City for Evan McMullin, the independent candidate challenging Senator Mike Lee of Utah. Groups across the country that are nominally connected to the G.O.P. have peppered the airwaves and internet with pleas to vote against Republicans aligned with Mr. Trump.
“We share a common vision, all of us, that the only way we’re going to protect our Constitution and our democracy is if we can unite more Americans around that cause,” said Mr. McMullin, a former intelligence officer.
Ms. Cheney’s journey is one of the most remarkable metamorphoses of the Trump era. Once a stalwart partisan in the House, she has gone from heading the House Republican Conference to endorsing frontline Democrats in little less than a year and a half. In August, she lost her re-election primary to a Trump-backed challenger, Harriet Hageman.
A television commercial in Arizona that Ms. Cheney’s political action committee financed features Ms. Cheney imploring Republicans to vote against the party’s candidate for governor, Kari Lake, and the G.O.P. candidate for secretary of state, Mark Finchem, because they are a threat to the country’s democracy.
“I don’t know that I have ever voted for a Democrat, but if I lived in Arizona, I absolutely would,” she says in the ad.
ImageMr. Kinzinger, right, with Evan McMullin, an independent. Mr. McMullin is running in Utah against Senator Mike Lee, a Republican who has backed Mr. Trump’s false claims of a stolen election in 2020.Credit…Rick Bowmer/Associated Press
Mr. Kinzinger is retiring after hostility from Republican colleagues and death threats from voters. He was at the Salt Lake City Public Library on Oct. 22 to try to help oust Mr. Lee, who cheered on Mr. Trump’s efforts to remain in office after the 2020 election, privately offering in a text message to the White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows, “a group of ready and loyal advocates who will go to bat for him.”
Declaring that “democracy is on the line,” Mr. Kinzinger told Utah voters last month, “This is the best opportunity I see in the country, and I mean that, to send a message, to build something new, to send somebody that can change the status quo.”
The State of the 2022 Midterm Elections
Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 8.
- A Pivotal Test in Pennsylvania: A battle for blue-collar white voters is raging in President Biden’s birthplace, where Democrats have the furthest to fall and the most to gain.
- Governor’s Races: Democrats and Republicans are heading into the final stretch of more than a dozen competitive contests for governor. Some battleground races could also determine who controls the Senate.
- Biden’s Agenda at Risk: If Republicans capture one or both chambers of Congress, the president’s opportunities on several issues will shrink. Here are some major areas where the two sides would clash.
- Ohio Senate Race: Polls show Representative Tim Ryan competing within the margin of error against his G.O.P. opponent, J.D. Vance. Mr. Ryan said the race would be “the upset of the night,” but there is still a cold reality tilting against Democrats.
His Country First political organization has endorsed a bipartisan slate of “defenders of democracy.” That includes Josh Shapiro and Katie Hobbs, who are Democrats running for governor of Pennsylvania and Arizona, and the Democratic candidates for secretary of state in Arizona, Nevada, Michigan and Minnesota.
How Times reporters cover politics. We rely on our journalists to be independent observers. So while Times staff members may vote, they are not allowed to endorse or campaign for candidates or political causes. This includes participating in marches or rallies in support of a movement or giving money to, or raising money for, any political candidate or election cause.
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But the political action committee has spent virtually no money. Nor, for that matter, has Ms. Cheney’s PAC, the Great Task, beyond what it spent on her failed re-election effort.
A former Republican Party chairman, Michael Steele, has joined a former Democratic Party chairman, Howard Dean, in Utah for a show of unity for Mr. McMullin.
A constellation of other groups still nominally connected to the Republican Party, like the Lincoln Project, are rejecting the party they have become estranged from on social media and in television commercials designed to peel away disenchanted Republicans and independents. The Republican Accountability Project has been collecting testimonials from disaffected Republican voters, which are turned into billboards and advertisements.
“Whether we as a country will be able to defend our system of self-government in the coming years, even in the next two cycles, will depend on whether we can bring together Republicans, Democrats and independents who are still committed to American democracy, to the Constitution and to the reality of objective truth,” Mr. McMullin said in an interview on Monday. “Are the votes there? Yes, they are there. Can we bring them together? That is the challenge.”
To that end, the power that Ms. Cheney and Mr. Kinzinger bring is their personal stories of defiance and excommunication.
“For vulnerable Democrats in really tight races, a lot of those voters are college-educated swing voters who value the independence of candidates, and there’s extra validation from a Liz Cheney or Adam Kinzinger saying, ‘Hey, this Republican opponent is beyond the pale,’” said Sarah Longwell, a Republican pollster who helped found the Republican Accountability Project.
Republicans are not so sure about that. Ms. Cheney in particular has become such a lightning rod with Republican base voters that Republican campaign officials believe her presence in Michigan will do more to energize Trump voters to come out for the Republican in the race, State Senator Tom Barrett, than to persuade undecided voters to side with Ms. Slotkin.
ImageMs. Cheney speaking in Jackson, Wyo., after losing the Republican primary in August. “I don’t know that I have ever voted for a Democrat, but if I lived in Arizona, I absolutely would,” she says in a recent television commercial. Credit…Kim Raff for The New York Times
Ms. Cheney’s visit to Central Michigan riled Mr. Barrett. On Monday, he summoned the woman who crushed Ms. Cheney in the primary in August, Ms. Hageman, to a conference call with the news media. Mr. Barrett’s goal was to frame Ms. Cheney’s visit not around election denial, Jan. 6 and the fate of democracy, but around his military service and the role Ms. Cheney and her father, former Vice President Dick Cheney, have played in promoting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“The Cheney family has never seen a war that they won’t send other people’s kids to go fight,” Mr. Barrett said.
Mr. Barrett, an Army helicopter pilot with 21 years of service, has not made election denial central to his campaign, nor is he endorsed by Mr. Trump. But in choosing Ms. Hageman for a surrogate, he handed the microphone to a woman who has promoted the falsehood that the election was stolen.
She first accused reporters of “beating this drum pretty much incessantly since 2020” to “deflect attention from the failures of this administration,” then launched into questions about Mark “Zuckerberg’s money” and allegations that Mr. Zuckerberg, the Facebook founder, had suppressed news about President Biden’s son Hunter to secure Mr. Biden’s victory.
“It’s legitimate to ask questions about what happened,” she said.
On Tuesday, before Ms. Cheney’s arrival, the Barrett campaign assembled its own squad of endorsers, including former Representative Pete Hoekstra from Western Michigan, Representative Jack Bergman from the state’s Upper Peninsula and State Representative Bob Bezotte, none with the star power of Ms. Cheney.