Wyoming's Republican voters on Tuesday nominated for the U.S. House a right-wing attorney who has spent decades combating regulations aimed at preserving her state's lands and waters from fossil fuel exploitation.
Harriet Hageman cruised to victory in Wyoming's at-large House district, benefiting from widespread right-wing anger at incumbent Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) over her vote to impeach former President Donald Trump in 2021 and her decision to serve as vice chair of the House select committee investigating the January 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol.
The former president endorsed Hageman, an ex-Cheney ally who in 2016 called Trump "somebody who is racist and xenophobic" and attempted to thwart his nomination during that year's Republican National Convention.
Hageman now disowns her previous statements on Trump, claiming she was led astray by "the lies the Democrats and Liz Cheney's friends in the media were telling at the time."
"Absolutely the election was rigged," Hageman said on the campaign trail, echoing the former president's lie about the 2020 election. "What happened in 2020 is a travesty."
The GOP nominee advances to face Democratic pick Lynnette Grey Bull, a renewable energy advocate who is vying to become the first Indigenous person to win a U.S. House seat representing Wyoming, which produces a large percentage of the nation's coal.
"It's definitely a David and Goliath type of campaign," said Grey Bull, who states on her website that "coal, oil, and gas are not viable energy sources in the long-term, environmentally or economically."
By contrast, Hageman—who is heavily favored to win in November—has been described as an "anti-conservation zealot" given her years as a trial lawyer fighting environmentalists in court and her expressed disdain for the very idea of protected federal lands. The oil and gas industry was among the corporate interests that helped fund her campaign against Cheney, who was also a vocal supporter of fossil fuel development.
"For three decades, Hageman has been sparring with environmentalists, suing federal agencies over land use decisions, and advocating for transferring control of federal lands to states," HuffPost's Chris D'Angelo recently reported. "It is a record of anti-conservation, anti-government zealotry that once earned her the nickname 'Wicked Witch of the West' among environmentalists—a title she embraced."
"Come next year," D'Angelo warned, "Hageman could be Wyoming's new at-large congresswoman and, if she has it her way, a member of the House committee with jurisdiction over energy development, public lands, and wildlife."
In a December appearance on former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon's podcast, Hageman boasted, "I've taken on the EPA, I've taken on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, I've taken on the USDA."
Hageman is currently listed as a senior litigation attorney on the website of the New Civil Liberties Alliance, a right-wing legal group that opposes climate regulations. As the New York Times notes, her "most far-reaching case" as a trial lawyer "was a successful challenge of Clinton-era federal regulations to protect millions of acres of National Forests from road-building, mining, and other development."
Unlike her position on Trump, Hageman's support for fossil fuel extraction and opposition to federal land, water, and endangered species protections has not wavered.
"At a luncheon last week for the Chamber of Commerce of Rock Springs, a community built on fossil-fuel extraction, Ms. Hageman promised to be a champion in Washington for those industries if elected," the Times reported Tuesday. "And she warned that Democrats' climate and tax bill would be 'devastating' to Wyoming, after stating that coal was an 'affordable, clean, acceptable resource that we all should be using.'"