Stefanik formally launches bid to replace Cheney in House GOP leadership

Reps. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) and Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.)
Greg Nash

Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) formally announced her bid to replace Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) as the House GOP’s conference chair after Cheney was ousted in a private vote Wednesday.

In a letter to colleagues rolling out her bid, Stefanik said she would listen to fellow lawmakers and focus her fire on Democrats’ agenda  an implicit knock at Cheney, who has focused her fire against former President Trump’s spurious claims that the presidential election was fraudulent.

“I strongly believe that one of the most important qualities in any leader is the commitment and ability to listen,” she wrote. “This week, I have had hundreds of productive and informative conversations with Members from all corners of our Conference. Today I humbly ask to earn your vote for House Republican Conference Chair to unify our message as a team and win the Majority in 2022.”

“Despite the media’s endless attempts to divide us, our Members are united in our laser focus on defeating the radical Socialist Democrat agenda of President Biden and Speaker Pelosi. Our Members believe that the stakes are far too high for us to be divided.”

Stefanik’s letter to members came just minutes after Cheney was booted from her perch as the No. 3 Republican in the House. The vote was conducted in private, but sources told The Hill that the margin was overwhelmingly in favor of dumping the Wyoming Republican from leadership.

Cheney had survived a similar attempt to remove her from her post in February after she voted to convict Trump over his role in inciting the Jan. 6 insurrection on Capitol Hill, but Republicans in recent weeks grew increasingly frustrated with her focus on the former president’s rhetoric surrounding the November election, arguing it threw off the party’s messaging efforts.

“The problem is you can’t have a Republican conference chair who continually recites Democrat talking points,” Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), former head of the conservative House Freedom Caucus and a close Trump ally, said Tuesday night. “You can’t have a Republican conference chair who takes positions that 90 percent of the party oppose.”

Cheney accepted her fate after Wednesday’s vote but maintained she would continue calling Trump out for his “big lie” over the election.

“We must go forward based on truth. We cannot both embrace the big lie and embrace the Constitution,” she told reporters after the vote. 

Stefanik has emerged as the front-runner in recent weeks to be Cheney’s successor.

The New York Republican has won endorsements from Trump as well as House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.). 

“The House GOP has a massive opportunity to upgrade this week from warmonger Liz Cheney to gifted communicator Elise Stefanik,” Trump said Monday. “She knows how to win, which is what we need!”

However, Stefanik has faced opposition from some House conservatives, who point to her past votes against the 2017 tax-cut law and in support of Democratic bills to end Trump’s emergency declaration to fund a border wall to suggest she is too moderate.

“We must avoid putting in charge Republicans who campaign as Republicans but then vote for and advance the Democrats’ agenda once sworn in  that is, that we do not make the same mistakes we did in 2017,” Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) wrote in a memo to his GOP colleagues this week.

Stefanik previewed an intense messaging offensive should she replace Cheney, touting priorities of the right flank of the party such as combating the media and raising concerns over election integrity. 

“Our communications posture must be to go on aggressive offense every single day to break through the biased media,” she wrote Wednesday. 

“A unified leadership team is the key foundation as we work to regain the Majority. We have strong conservative policy solutions to protect our borders, secure our elections, reopen our schools, get Americans back to work, support law enforcement, protect our Constitution, and strengthen our military to counter adversaries like the Chinese Communist Party,” she added. “If we get our message out, we will win and save America.”

Tags Chip Roy Donald Trump Donald Trump Elise Stefanik Freedom Caucus Jim Jordan Joe Biden Kevin McCarthy Liz Cheney Steve Scalise Trump

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