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Matt Gaetz tried to take down Liz Cheney. It did not go well for him.

He said he had the votes to remove her from her leadership role, but he didn’t even come close.

By Josh Israel - February 04, 2021
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL)

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) spent the past several weeks pushing to remove House Republican Conference Chair Liz Cheney from her leadership role and claiming to have the needed support to do so. On Wednesday, his effort failed badly.

In a secret ballot, 145 House Republicans voted to keep Cheney (R-WY) in the number three post in the party’s leadership. Just 61 voted to kick her out of the job. Gaetz had previously claimed that most of the minority GOP caucus backed removal over Cheney’s vote to impeach Donald Trump. Cheney celebrated this as a “terrific vote.”

On Jan. 13, Cheney was one of just 10 House Republicans who voted to charge Trump with one count of incitement of insurrection, following his attempts to overturn the 2020 election and his efforts to fuel the deadly Capitol riots.

Gaetz, a staunch Trump backer, tweeted three days later: “Liz Cheney should not be the Chair of the Republican Conference.”

As Trump and his supporters schemed to mount primary challenges to Cheney and the other nine pro-impeachment Republicans, Gaetz pushed his colleagues to dump her from leadership.

“According to CBS News, more than 115 of the 211 House Republicans support Cheney‘s removal,” he tweeted on Jan. 24. 

Last week, Gaetz traveled to Cheney’s home state, hosting a rally against her in Cheyenne, Wyoming. “We are in a battle for the soul of the Republican Party, and I intend to win it,” he told her constituents.

On Wednesday, Gaetz appeared on Steve Bannon’s podcast and claimed that if a vote were held, Cheney would be removed.

“My concern is that though today, we have the votes to remove Liz Cheney, somehow the establishment’s going to find a way to kick the question, avoid a vote,” he warned.

Following the vote, Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), who had also backed impeachment, mocked Gaetz’s vote-counting skills.

“No we voted. You were just wrong by like, a huuuuuge margin,” Kinzinger tweeted on Wednesday night.

While Gaetz tried to frame Cheney as out of touch with pro-Trump House Republicans, she actually backed Trump even more often than he did. According to FiveThirtyEight, Cheney voted with the twice-impeached, one-term president about 93% of the time. Gaetz voted with Trump 85% of the time.

The House GOP’s vote was a clear defeat for Gaetz, but it also demonstrated a significant rift within his party. At the same caucus meeting, about half of the party reportedly gave a standing ovation to racist QAnon conspiracy theorist Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) as she attempted to avoid losing her committee assignments. Several Senate Republicans and the Republican Jewish Committee have vocally condemned her.

An Axios-Survey Monkey poll this week found that Republican voters are much more closely aligned with Greene (who has a net +10 favorability rating in the GOP) than Cheney (who has a net -28 rating).

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

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