Former President George W. Bush recently made contributions to two GOP lawmakers who are facing primary challenges after they voted to impeach former President Donald Trump as a result of the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.
What are the details?
Late last year, Bush donated to Rep. Liz Cheney's (R-Wyo.) and Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s (R-Alaska) re-election campaigns, Politico first reported, citing campaign finance reports filed on Monday.
In October 2021, the 43rd president donated a maximum individual contribution of $5,800 to Cheney. The Wyoming representative, despite her conservative voting record, has drawn ire within the Republican Party for her vocal criticism of Trump, specifically pertaining to his claims of fraud surrounding the 2020 election. It's worth noting that Liz Cheney is the daughter of Bush's longtime vice president, Dick Cheney.
Cheney previously served as the GOP conference chairman, or the third-ranking member of the Republican Party, but the House Republican caucus voted last May to remove her from that post. The Wyoming Republican Party similarly voted to censure Cheney in February for "voting to impeach even though the U.S. House didn't offer Trump 'formal hearing or due process.'"
Bush also donated to Murkowski, another lawmaker who voted to impeach Trump earlier this year, adding the maximum allowable primary donation of $2,900 to her re-election campaign coffers. According to federal election commission records, the donation marked the first time that Bush has contributed to the Alaska senator, who is widely known for being one of the most liberal Republican members in the chamber.
Why does it matter?
The donations, while relatively small in dollar amount, are symbolic of the widening rift between the moderate or establishment Republican Party of the Bush era and the current Republican Party, which by and large is supportive of Trump. The donations were the first that Bush made in 2021.
They also directly contrast endorsements that Trump has made in the respective races. The 45th president has backed Republican challengers seeking to unseat Cheney, Murkowski, and others as punishment for their impeachment votes.
In Wyoming, Trump has publicly endorsed attorney Harriet Hageman's campaign to unseat Cheney. The race there is expected to be "one of the bloodiest" in the state's history. In Alaska, Trump threw his support behind former Alaska Department of Administration commissioner Kelly Tshibaka.
Both Wyoming's and Alaska’s primaries are set to take place on Aug. 16.