A senior Washington lobbyist close to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is advising Republican political consultants that they must choose between working for Representative Liz Cheney and McCarthy, an ultimatum that signals the end of any working relationship between the two House Republicans.
In recent weeks, Jeff Miller, a lobbyist and McCarthy friend going back to their days in California politics, has relayed this us-or-her message to Republican strategists, forcing one fund-raising company to distance itself from Cheney, a Republican from Wyoming.
According to Republicans familiar with the situation, The Morning Group, a fund-raising company she engaged to help prepare for a primary next year against an opponent sponsored by former President Donald J. Trump, warned her last month that they could no longer assist on her campaign.
Miller’s warnings reflect the breakdown of their relationship, which started this year while they served together in the House Republican leadership. They also highlight McCarthy’s determination to use his leadership position to undermine Cheney’s re-election and remove a roadblock to his becoming speaker if Republicans regain a House majority next year. If Cheney were to return to Congress, she would be a possible motivator of any campaign to prevent McCarthy from becoming the leader of their party in the House.
“She’s not just undermining Kevin but the whole G.O.P. conference,” Miller said of Cheney. “You’re either with Kevin, and the conference, or the person undermining them. You can’t serve two masters.”
The lobbyist refused to reveal his conversations with party strategists or say if McCarthy led him to deliver the ultimatum. Miller, whose clients include Amazon and the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, does not work for or receive compensation from the leader. They are, however, the best of friends and have been since they worked for former Representative Bill Thomas, the strong Bakersfield Republican McCarthy replaced in Congress.
The bond between lobbyist and leader is widely known in Washington’s Republican circles, and Miller’s word is authoritative, as seen by the fund-raising firm’s decision to break ties with Cheney.
The National Republican Congressional Committee, the House G.O.P.’s campaign arm, does not participate in primaries.
However, the Congressional Leadership Fund, the main House Republican “super PAC” that McCarthy effectively controls, is not supporting Cheney, though it is supporting some of the other House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump, according to a Republican official familiar with the group’s strategy.
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To Cheney, McCarthy’s behind-the-scenes effort against her simply demonstrates how loyal he is to Trump — and the extent he will go to win the speakership.
“It’s sad but not surprising that Kevin McCarthy is continuing down the morally bankrupt path of embracing House Republicans who are white supremacists and conspiracy theorists, but attacking Liz Cheney for telling the truth and standing for the Constitution,” Adler said.
Cheney has not been financially harmed as a result of her vocal criticism of Trump and McCarthy. She had raised more than $5 million by the end of September and had more than $3.6 million on hand.
She has maintained the backing of a number of prominent Republicans, including Bush, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and former House Speakers John Boehner and Paul Ryan.
She has, nevertheless, emerged as maybe Trump’s top target for defeat. After meeting with a number of potential competitors, Trump picked Harriet Hageman, a Cheyenne attorney who had participated in a futile, last-ditch attempt to deprive him of the Republican presidential nomination two months earlier.
Hageman, a former Cheney family acquaintance who worked as an advisor to Cheney’s short-lived 2014 Senate campaign, raised somewhat more than $300,000 during the quarter, although she just declared her candidacy on September 9.
Trump has endorsed a few other Republicans challenging the lawmakers who voted to impeach him, and he was overjoyed last month when Representative Anthony Gonzalez of Ohio, who cast one of the ten Republican votes to impeach, announced his intention to retire from Congress rather than run against a former Trump White House official.
“1 Down, 9 To Go!” Trump said in a statement at the time.