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Trump takes down Liz Cheney — and another GOP political dynasty

First Read is your briefing from “Meet the Press” and the NBC Political Unit on the day’s most important political stories and why they matter.
Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., departs after speaking to supporters during a primary night event on Aug. 16, 2022, in Jackson, Wyo.
Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., departs after speaking to supporters during a primary night event on Aug. 16, 2022, in Jackson, Wyo.Alex Wong / Getty Images

WASHINGTON — If it’s Wednesday ... Liz Cheney loses by more than 2-to-1 margin in her Wyoming GOP primary. ... Cheney tells NBC’s Savannah Guthrie in exclusive interview: “I don’t think that anybody in any political party should support election deniers.” ... Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Trump-backed challenger Kelly Tshibaka advance in Alaska’s Top 4 Senate primary. ... The Alaska House special heads to ranked-choice finale. ... Rudy Giuliani testifies before special grand jury in Georgia, per NBC’s Blayne Alexander and Charlie Gile. … And a GOP group airs new TV ads hitting Democrats on the economy.

But first: Donald Trump didn’t just get his electoral revenge against Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., who voted to impeach the former president over the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

He also ended up taking down another Republican political dynasty. 

In 2016, Trump bested Jeb Bush and the rest of the GOP field. 

This cycle, he helped defeat Bush’s son, George P., despite the younger Bush’s efforts to cozy up to Trump. 

Last night, Trump helped challenger Harriet Hageman blow out Cheney — daughter of former Republican VP Dick Cheney — by almost 40 points in Wyoming.  

And think about other former rising stars and well-known GOP politicians who’ve gone down to defeat or have retired from electoral politics over the last few years: Jeff Flake, Bob Corker, Mark Sanford, Paul Ryan, Fred Upton, Jaime Herrera Beutler. 

It raises an important point about 2024 and the GOP’s future: Who’s left in the party — at least from its traditional power bases and networks — to take on Trump if he runs? 

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (who’s really never tried to challenge Trump, despite his rhetoric after Jan. 6)? Mitt Romney (who’s up for re-election in ’24)? Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (who hasn’t really opposed Trump’s politics or style)? 

But the Bush-Cheney losses in the Trump Era raise another point: It was the failures of the Bush-Cheney administration — and especially the failed Iraq war — that gave Donald Trump his opening to take over the Republican Party in the first place.

Tweet of the day

Data Download: The number of the day is … 28

That’s how many counts former U.S. Rep. TJ Cox, D-Calif., is facing, according to a new indictment made public Tuesday. Cox has been charged with 15 counts of wire fraud, 11 counts of money laundering, one count of financial institution fraud and one count of campaign contribution fraud. One of those charges is related to accusations he helped spearhead a straw donor scheme ahead of his 2018 campaign. 

If convicted, the charges could lead to decades in prison and more than $1 million in fines. Cox pleaded not guilty, per KSEE-24, and in a brief interview said he looks “forward to vigorously defending those allegations against me.”

Other numbers to know: 

12: The number of House members who lost their primaries this cycle after Cheney’s loss — eight Republicans and four Democrats.

37%: The polio vaccination rate in one Rockland County, N.Y., zip code, where paralytic polio has been recorded

$3.9 billion: How much federal student debt the Biden administration canceled from students who went to ITT Tech

24: How many years it’s been since Alaska re-elected an incumbent governor

Midterm roundup: Primary results and a special waiting game

The results in most of last night’s top contests are in, except for Alaska’s special election to serve the rest of the late GOP Rep. Don Young’s term, thanks to the state’s new ranked-choice voting system. 

NBC’s Decision Desk projects that none of the candidates, who included former GOP Gov. Sarah Palin, Republican Nick Begich and Democrat Mary Peltola will win a majority of votes in the first round, meaning ranked choice voting will be used to determine the winner later this month. 

But there are clear results in other races we were watching last night. Remember in Alaska, the Top 4 vote-getters in the primary advance to the general election.  

Here are the latest vote counts from NBC’s Decision Desk:

Alaska Senate: GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski (44%) and her Trump-backed GOP challenger Kelly Tshibaka (40%), will advance to November, along with Democrat Pat Chesbro (6%). With 67% of the expected vote in, it’s still not clear who will take the fourth spot.

Alaska Governor: GOP Gov. Mike Dunleavy (42%) led the rest of the field by a sizable margin. Dunleavy, and will advance to the general election, along with former Democratic state Rep. Les Gara (22%) and former independent Gov. Bill Walker (22%). The fourth candidate is still unclear. 

Wyoming Secretary of State: State Rep. Chuck Gray (49%), who initially challenged Cheney but switched to the Secretary of State’s race and had Trump’s endorsement, won the GOP primary. He has previously said the 2020 election was stolen.

Alaska At-Large Special: Just 67% of the expected vote is in so far, but Peltola (38%), the Democrat, led the field, Palin (32%) and Begich (29%) not far behind. The winner will be determined by ranked-choice voting later this month.

Alaska At-Large: The candidates competing for a full term in Congress are set, though. In the primary so far, Peltola (35%) again led the field, followed by Palin (31%), and Begich (27%). Republican Tara Sweeney (4%), an Alaska Native woman who served as assistant secretary for Indian Affairs and was Young’s campaign co-chair, nabbed the fourth spot. 

Wyoming At-Large: With 99% of the expected vote in, Hageman (66%) easily defeated Cheney (29%).

Hageman’s victory remarks, per NBC’s Megan Lebowitz: “Right now we have the most dangerous and the most destructive administration in U.S. history. President Biden and the radical Democrats are solely responsible for record-breaking inflation, for record-breaking illegal immigration, record-breaking human trafficking, record-breaking drug running and record-breaking energy costs. The wreckage, the wreckage that we are seeing is not by accident, but by design.

Elsewhere on the campaign trail: 

Alaska Senate: Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski told NBC’s Ali Vitali Tuesday, before the polls closed, that if the GOP decides to “be the party of one individual,” then it will “leave behind a lot of Americans.” 

Iowa Senate: Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley booked about $1.8 million in ad buys starting in late September, per AdImpact. 

Pennsylvania Senate: Democratic Lt. Gov. John Fetterman is out with a new ad where he says Washington insiders are “lying about me to take the heat off themselves.” 

Rhode Island Governor: Democratic Gov. Daniel McKee narrowly leads a new Roger Williams/WPRI 12 poll ahead of his gubernatorial primary with 28 percent, with Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea in second with 25 percent and former CVS executive Helena Foulkes with 14 percent. 

Arizona Secretary of State: CNN reports that Republican Secretary of State nominee Mark Finchem had a list on his Pinterest account called a “Treason Watch List” as well as “pins of photos of Barack Obama alongside imagery of a man clad in Nazi attire making a Nazi salute.” 

Indiana-02: Dean Swihart, the husband of the late Rep. Jackie Walorski, is endorsing former Walorski staffer Rudy Yakym to succeed her

New York-12: Before her member-on-member primary, Democratic Rep. Carolyn Maloney criticized her top rival, Rep. Jerry Nadler, to NY1 by floating the prospect Nadler won’t serve his full term. (Nadler has pledged to serve the full two-year term.)

Ad watch: GOP group hits Democrats on the economy

Democrats may be pointing to their recent string of legislative victories on the trail, but new ads from a big GOP group make the argument that Democrats have been careless with the economy. 

One Nation, the non-profit arm of Senate Leadership Fund, a super PAC aligned with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, is out with three new ads this week, attacking Sen. Mark Kelly, D-Ariz., Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-N.V., and Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio.

The ads attack Cortez Masto and Ryan for voting in favor of the American Rescue Plan, a Covid relief bill, last year, arguing that stimulus pushed inflation higher. And the ads blast Kelly and Ryan for supporting Democrats’ recent spending bill, claiming that new taxes on businesses will hurt American families.

ICYMI: What else is happening in the world

President Biden signed the party’s reconciliation package into law Tuesday.  

First lady Jill Biden tested positive for Covid-19

Facebook tells Politico it won’t consider reinstating former President Trump until January, even if he announces he’s running for president before then