CHEYENNE — Friday afternoon, Cheyenne’s Darin Smith became the third Republican to announce a primary campaign against incumbent U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney.
Standing in front of the Wyoming Capitol, Smith said he’s “sick and tired of politics as usual.”
He called the system rigged and elections bought, because candidates who spend the most money often win their races.
The Rock Springs native, now a Cheyenne attorney and businessman, joins state Sen. Anthony Bouchard, R-Cheyenne, and state Rep. Chuck Gray, R-Casper, in the field of candidates challenging Cheney for Wyoming’s sole U.S. House seat.
“We need to export Wyoming values to Washington, and not the other way around,” Smith said.
“Right now, somebody can come in that’s not from here and spend a lot of money and win, and that’s not gonna happen this time.”
Smith said his campaign had already received $100,000 in donation commitments – more than he raised during his entire 2016 campaign for the same seat. In that primary race, Smith came in fourth with 15.2 percent of the vote.
“We’re off to an incredible start, and I expect that to continue. People are excited about the campaign,” he said.
Smith is the former chairman of the Laramie County Republican Party.
Republican donor and former Wyoming gubernatorial candidate Foster Friess will chair Smith’s campaign.
The reason he’s going to win against Cheney, Smith said, is that he is a fourth-generation Wyomingite, and he and his wife, Alicia, are pillars of the community. Alicia Smith currently serves on the Laramie County School District 1 Board of Trustees.
Smith and Cheney’s differences come down to worldview, he said, calling some spending bills she voted for “disgusting.” Smith said the size of the federal government is too big, and that “freedom always gets choked out when government grows.”
He also criticized the George W. Bush administration’s invasion of Iraq, saying he and the incumbent also differ on foreign policy. Liz Cheney’s father, Dick Cheney, served as Bush’s vice president.
“I have a worldview that what makes America great are the principles that we export to the world, and I don’t think that those principles need to be forced on people. ... They went into Iraq and broke it, and then they thought they were going to put a democracy in the Middle East. Didn’t happen, did it?” Smith said. “What needs to happen is we need to come in with principles that work, and that’s faith, family and freedom.”
Smith said he believes it was unfair of Cheney to vote to impeach President Trump for “false allegations” that he helped incite the riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, during which five people died.
“I am an attorney, and I’ll tell you this: I can put a murderer on death row with less circumstantial evidence than there is to prove there was fraud in this election,” Smith said.
There is no evidence of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election, despite repeated claims by President Donald Trump that he was the rightful winner.
Smith attended the Jan. 6 protest at the U.S. Capitol, according to a Cowboy State Daily column. In the column, Smith blamed the riot on “mob mentality” among “a small minority” of attendees, and said he believes the 2020 election was stolen from Trump by supporters of President Joe Biden.
During his announcement speech, Smith said he believes Trump was “probably” the rightful winner of the 2020 presidential election, but that votes weren’t counted properly, and “every state that was in question” should have its legislators audit the results.
When asked whether this should apply to every Republican elected in these states in down-ballot races, Smith reiterated that an audit was needed. He said Jan. 6 was about “protesting for a free and fair election that’s audited.”
Though Smith said he hasn’t sought the former president’s endorsement, he believes he’ll get it.
“I fully expect to earn Donald Trump’s endorsement and have it within the next three months,” Smith said.
Smith said he was not recruited to run by any organization, but that around 50 people had asked him if he would challenge Cheney in 2022.