PROVO, Utah, May 13, 2021 (Gephardt Daily) — Supporters who thought U.S. Representative John Curtis, R-Utah, would defend Liz Cheney, R-Utah, for standing in opposition to the The Big Lie were deeply disappointed Wednesday when Curtis made it known he was in on the GOP party purge.
In a four paragraph statement, Curtis explained his vote to oust Cheney, saying it had nothing to do with her holding Trump and his acolytes accountable for inciting the Jan. 6 insurrection, but was fueled instead by her alleged failure to unify and lead the party.
“Today’s vote to remove Liz Cheney from her leadership position was not an attempt to silence her from speaking the truth about the election,” Curtis wrote. “Today’s vote was about removing someone who Republicans broadly believe has been an inefficient leader and has distracted the party from moving forward and uniting Americans.
“In the end, I am looking for leadership who inspires, motivates, and moves us to advance the best policy,” Curtis said. “It is time for the Republican Conference to stop looking in the rearview mirror and return to focusing on advancing our ideas and legislating.”
Reaction on social media from a couple hundred people who claimed to be both Republicans and Curtis’ supporters was swift, pointed and angry. Virtually all of those who responded expressed a mixture of surprise and disappointment in Curtis’ explanation. Others claimed they would no longer support him or the Republican party.
“I’m beyond disappointed,” wrote one Facebook follower. “You cannot stand as a defender of the republic, conservatism, and the Constitution and go along with a Trumpian purge like this. No matter how you rationalize it as ‘moving forward.’ I’m sad to say you’ve irretrievably lost my respect and support as my Congressman.”
“What a disingenuous statement,” wrote another. “You voted the way you did because you were afraid of the backlash if you didn’t. Inefficient leadership my foot.”
“I’ve always thought of you as one of the most principled Republican leaders,” wrote a former supporter. “I voted for you. I’ve contributed to your campaigns. I’ve been in your home to hear you out. I’ve been a Republican delegate and even helped run the campaigns of a few candidates. But I agree with the majority of prior comments.
“A party that has policy differences can be reunited. A party with ethical differences cannot,” the former supporter said. “If the best of the best in our party is willing to support political expediency and populism over ethics, then the Republican Party is no longer the right place for me. I have just removed myself from further party affiliation.”
Joining Curtis in Cheney’s ouster was Utah’s 2nd U.S. District Representative Chris Stewart, R-Utah. Stewart was among the Republican legislators who challenged certification of the 2020 electoral college vote.
Newly-elected 4th District U.S. Rep. Burgess Owens, R-Utah, who also voted against certifying the 2020 electoral vote on Jan. 6, was absent from Wednesday’s proceedings.
Blake Moore, R-Utah, freshman congressman from Utah’s 1st Congressional District, said he voted against Cheney’s removal. In a prepared statement, Moore said the Wyoming representative’s voice as GOP House conference chair was part of an inclusiveness which proved successful in attracting voters in the 2020 congressional races.
“Republican House candidates won big in 2020 due in part to the broad appeal, diversity and unique strengths of leaders across the Republican Party. Kevin McCarthy, Steve Scalise and Liz Cheney represent the inclusivity that so many voters appreciate. They each bring constructive perspectives and priorities to the table, and we are only stronger because of that,” Moore said.
Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, released a tweet Monday about the move to remove Cheney: “Expelling Liz Cheney from leadership won’t gain the GOP one additional voter, but it will cost us quite a few.” Romney wrote.
Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, refused to comment on the vote to remove Cheney, saying he did not take part in leadership votes in the House.
Cheney had held the position of Chair of the House Republican Conference — the third-highest position in the House Republican leadership — from 2019 until today, Wednesday, May 12.
Curtis’ full statement on his vote to dump Cheney is as follows:
As one of the first Republican Members of Congress to recognize the legitimacy of the 2020 election, I have been clear that I do not question the election results. In fact, I have encouraged my colleagues to speak out against any false narratives around the election, recognize Joe Biden as the duly elected President, and begin working with him to better America. I want to make it absolutely clear that the facts and my stance on the election have not changed.
I am frustrated that disagreements within the Republican Conference have dominated conversations at a time when we should be focusing on the border crisis, rising inflation, Hamas’s attacks on Israel, and other issues impacting Americans today.
Today’s vote to remove Liz Cheney from her leadership position was not an attempt to silence her from speaking the truth about the election. Today’s vote was about removing someone who Republicans broadly believe has been an inefficient leader and has distracted the party from moving forward and uniting Americans.
In the end, I am looking for leadership who inspires, motivates, and moves us to advance the best policy. It is time for the Republican Conference to stop looking in the rearview mirror and return to focusing on advancing our ideas and legislating.