I have to admit, I was wrong about GOP Rep. Liz Cheney's Wyoming primary. I thought she was going to lose by 15-20 points in an embarrassing collapse of her political career, crucified by Wyoming GOP voters and Donald Trump as revenge for her role in his impeachment and as co-chair of the House January 6th Committee. But I was wrong.
Trump and his allies have spent the spring and summer turning Republican primaries across the political map into bitter fights in which loyalty to the former President was the central factor.
He lost some high-profile battles, including in Georgia, where Gov. Brian Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger held off Trump-back challengers.
But in most open-seat races, Trump's candidates triumphed. And on Tuesday in Wyoming, Trump, who had endorsed Hageman on the day she entered the race against Cheney, claimed his biggest victory yet.
Cheney is now the eighth of the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump following the January 6, 2021, insurrection at the Capitol to exit the House. Four have opted not to seek reelection, and four more have lost GOP primaries.
In the lead-up to Tuesday's primary, Cheney insisted she was trying to win.
But her strategy -- attempting to convince the Republican electorate in a state the former President won by a margin of 43 percentage points in 2020 to turn on him -- suggests she'd made a different choice: to go down swinging.
She infuriated Republicans by urging Wyoming Democrats and unaffiliated voters to switch their party registration and vote in Tuesday's GOP primary.
Surrounded by US Capitol Police officers on the campaign trail, Cheney opted for small, private events over rallies. She lambasted Trump in television interviews.
Her campaign's closing message was a TV ad featuring her father, former Vice President Dick Cheney, calling Trump a "coward" who lies to his supporters and "tried to steal the last election" using violence.
Her election night event, on a ranch in Jackson Hole with the sun setting over the Grand Tetons in the background, didn't feature any television screens for supporters to watch results tabulated in a race Cheney was all but certain to lose.
She told supporters that she could have cozied up to Trump and did what she'd done in the primary two years earlier: win with 73% of the vote.
"That was a path I could not and would not take," Cheney said. "No House seat, no office in this land, is more important than the principles that we are all sworn to protect. And I well understood the potential political consequences of abiding by my duty."
She refused to go along with Trump's lie and was butchered for it. But the GOP primary voters in Wyoming were more than happy to break out the long knives. Republicans don't want principles, or duty, or anything of the sort. They want bloody vengeance against Democrats and their voters, and they want to elect people who will destroy their "enemies" and who will permit them to join in the lynchings.
There were never "good" Republicans left. Hell, there aren't even sane ones left. Trying to "save" this party is a fool's errand because there's no saving it. Last night proved that. There are no good Republicans left.
Just inchoate rage goblins.
That includes Liz Cheney.
The three-term congresswoman has not said what her next political move will be -- including whether she'll run for president in 2024 as a foil for Trump.
But she used her speech to preview a continued fight against Trump, without laying out exactly what that means.
"I have said since January 6 that I will do whatever it takes to ensure that Donald Trump is never again near the Oval Office, and I mean it. This is a fight for all of us, together," she said.
"I'm a conservative Republican. ... But I love my country more. So I ask you tonight to join me: As we leave here, let us resolve that we will stand together, Republicans, Democrats and independents, against those who would destroy our republic."
As she left the stage, Tom Petty's "I Won't Back Down" blared over the event's speakers.
Stopping Trump would mean electing Democrats, not finding Republican alternatives who will be purged from the party and left in piles of politically irrelevant smoking wreckage, conning the rubes into giving them money.
Guess which road Cheney will take?
No, don't feel bad for her. The answer, as it has always been in the last several decades, is vote Blue.