Trump Ally Elise Stefanik Gains Steam To Replace Liz Cheney As GOP Conference Chair
Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) an ally of former President Donald Trump, has emerged as a potential successor to Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) as House Republican conference chair after her criticism of Trump has raised hackles among the GOP.
A member of the Republican Study Committee, a conservative group that counts the majority of House Republicans as members, Reschenthaler told the New York Post Stefanik “has the votes after talking to people.”
Stefanik also picked up a nod from the right-wing Freedom Caucus, with Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), the caucus’ vice chair, stating in a Fox News interview Stefanik would “do a fine job” and that the conference is “ready to make a change.”
Allies of House Minority Kevin McCarthy, who was reportedly caught on a hot mic saying he’s “had it” with Cheney, are whipping votes against Cheney and for Stefanik, and Stefanik herself has put out feelers, according to Politico.
Cheney spokesperson Jeremy Adler signaled she intends to fight it out, telling Forbes in a statement, “This is about whether the Republican Party is going to perpetuate lies about the 2020 election… Liz will not do that.”
Forbes has reached out to Stefanik’s office for comment.
First elected to the House in 2014 from a Republican-leaning district comprising most of New York’s rural “North Country,” Stefanik built a reputation as a moderate bridge-builder. She attained right-wing stardom in 2019 due to her outspoken defense of Trump during his first impeachment. This year, she supported a lawsuit to overturn the 2020 election and voted to object to Pennsylvania’s Electoral College votes.
“I have heard from members concerned about her ability to carry out the job as conference chair, to carry out the message,” McCarthy said during a Fox & Friends interview on Tuesday after Cheney broke with him on the scope of a commission to probe the Jan. 6 attack and accused Trump of “poisoning our democratic system.”
Other names, such as Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.), have been floated as possible replacements for Cheney as well, though Stefanik is seen as the heavy favorite. Whoever replaces Cheney will likely be a woman, given that the other three top House GOP leadership positions are all held by white men.
“From the GOP Leadership: Help Wanted – Non-Threatening Female,” read a statement from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, accusing McCarthy and House Minority Whip Steve Scalise of wanting to replace Cheney with “a woman who isn’t a ‘threat’ to them.” Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, said ousting Cheney would amount to “cancel culture” by Republicans.
What To Watch For
Cheney’s leadership role could come to a vote as early as May 12, the next scheduled meeting for the House Republican conference, according to Reuters and Axios. Though she survived her February ouster attempt by a near 2-to-1 margin, she will likely lack a key asset this time around: McCarthy’s support.