State Sen. Bo Biteman, who had also interviewed with Trump to become his endorsed candidate in Wyoming, expressed little interest in running a campaign after the former president made a different pick. Biteman told POLITICO that the Hageman endorsement “doesn’t change anything for me as I never officially entered the race.
Two other announced candidates remained in the primary as of Thursday night but didn’t return calls for comment. One other Republican considering a bid privately told POLITICO that it wasn’t worth it now.
The winnowing of the field of challengers and potential challengers came as little surprise in Wyoming, which was both Trump’s best state in the 2020 election as well as the home of the highest-profile Republican supporter of his impeachment following the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.
Before Trump made his endorsement of Hageman, he and his team spent months vetting and interviewing candidates, including extracting promises that they would drop out of the race if they weren’t picked. Trump made the extraordinary request because polling showed that Cheney would be easier to beat in a one-on-one primary matchup.
Trump didn’t pick Hageman out of nowhere. Wyoming Republicans, led by state GOP Chair Frank Eathorne, encouraged Trump to interview the former land-use attorney, whose 2018 run for governor made her a favorite of conservatives. Trump’s former chief of staff, Mark Meadows, also played a key role in advocating for Hageman, two people close to the Trump orbit said.
“Harriet is respected around the around the state. She had a great campaign for governor. She’ll be a very good candidate,” said former Wyoming GOP Chair Matt Micheli. “There is no doubt that Trump’s endorsement will make her even stronger.”
Before the first challenger called it quits, Micheli predicted that Trump’s endorsement would thin the herd.
“I suspect most of the other candidates probably will drop out,” he said. “If they have a realistic view and do the analysis, they’ll come to that conclusion. I think there’ll be one or two that probably stays in because they’re doing it more for a political point than to actually win.”
Micheli wouldn’t name names, but one candidate who has shown the most interest in staying in is state Sen. Anthony Bouchard, who took to Twitter to criticize the Hageman pick and posted pictures of her with Cheney, whom Hageman once supported.
“Liz Cheney succeeded getting Trump to pick Cheney’s BFF for her replacement. Hageman was in Cheney’s Campaign both initial and re-elections. (Liz Cheney’s Campaign Photos ‘scrubbed’ from the Internet by Hageman),” Bouchard wrote.
Bouchard couldn’t be reached, nor could state Rep. Chuck Gray, another congressional candidate.
Cheney met the Trump endorsement with defiance.
“Here’s a sound bite for you: Bring it,” Cheney wrote on Twitter, posting the former president’s endorsement of Hageman, who was an ally and financial contributor to Cheney’s past campaigns.
Privately, Cheney backers acknowledged that it will be harder for her to win in a contest with fewer candidates, and some of her supporters wondered whether she would want to…