BY JENNI FINK ON 7/28/21 AT 2:39 PM ED
Former President Donald Trump's strategy to oust Representative Liz Cheney from office is to rally Republicans around one candidate. It's possible that person will be Darin Smith, a businessman from Cheyenne.
Cheney's been on the receiving end of Trump's ire since the Capitol riot, where she laid the blame at the former president's feet and voted to impeach him. The Wyoming Republican is at the top of the former president's list to beat in the upcoming primary elections and a recent poll shows Smith may be capable of the job.
After surveying 766 likely Republican primary voters, the Remington Research Group found Smith to be the current frontrunner in the congressional race. In a head-to-head matchup with Cheney, Smith garnered 70 percent support and Cheney had 20 percent.
"Liz Cheney is the only representation in Congress Wyoming has, and she has turned her back on us," Smith told Newsweek in a statement. "I am a proud supporter of President Trump and will not back down or give in to the empty threats from Liz and the far left. It's time to Dump Liz and elect someone with genuine pro-Trump, America First, Wyoming values, and I know I am that person."
Smith also came out on top when two other Republicans, State Senator Anthony Bouchard and State Representative Chuck Gray, were added to the mix—although it was a tighter race. In a four-way race, Smith had 24 percent of the hypothetical vote and Cheney had 19 percent. Bouchard was in third at 18 percent, followed by Gray at 14 percent.
A recent poll showed Darin Smith, who recently met with Donald Trump, may be able to beat Rep. Liz Cheney in the Republican primary.
Here, Cheney listens during the opening hearing of the January 6 committee on July 27, 2021, in Washington, D.C.JILL BOURG-POOL/GETTY IMAGES
Bouchard's ability to beat Cheney was called into question after he admitted to impregnating a 14-year-old girl when he was 18. He told Fox News it was "expected" that he wasn't on the list of candidates set to meet with Trump at Bedminster and agreed with the former president that Republicans are "stronger" against Cheney if there's only one candidate in the race. However, he didn't indicate he planned to drop out anytime soon.
"I'm the only candidate with any measurable grassroots support in Wyoming. More than 1,000 Wyoming Republicans have donated to my campaign. That's more than ten times the totals from all other Cheney Challengers combined," Bouchard told Fox News. "The weeding out process needs to begin now—starting with the weakest candidates—to give Wyoming conservatives our best shot of defeating Liz Cheney in 2022."
The poll reflects some concerns Republicans, including Trump, have about their ability to defeat Cheney in a primary election. Although Cheney's taken a hit among GOP voters who back Trump as the leader of the party, having multiple challengers in a primary would split votes, giving Cheney a better chance at defending her seat.
Trump called Cheney a "warmonger" who is "bad for our country" and claimed her only chance at winning reelection is if "vast numbers" of people run against her, which "hopefully won't happen."
Cheney received her first primary challenger just weeks after her vote to impeach Trump and was voted out of her leadership position in the House GOP. She faced criticism for her refusal to back Trump as the future of the Republican party and for accepting House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's appointment to the January 6 committee.
Since falling out with Trump over the impeachment, Cheney has amassed more than six challengers and acknowledged the primary election will be "challenging." Regardless of who or how many people she has to face off against in the primary, Cheney said she's prepared to "fight hard" and is confident she'll come out on top.
To help rally support around one person, Trump decided to meet with several candidates at his Bedminster golf resort in New Jersey. Smith was one of the candidates who had a meeting with the former president, someone close to his campaign told Newsweek.
Trump hasn't announced who he will endorse but has stressed that Republicans only want one candidate challenging Cheney.
It wouldn't be the first time Smith goes up against Cheney if he gets Trump's approval. In 2016, he fell short of the Republican nomination for the House race, garnering only 15 percent of the vote, compared to Cheney's nearly 40 percent. However, Cheney's support has waned since the 2016 election and a May poll found she was three times as popular with Democrats than Republicans.
Smith branded himself as the anti-Cheney and has highlighted his support of Trump. Seventy percent of those RRG polled said the former president's endorsement would make them more likely to vote for him.