Washington — New York Congresswoman Elise Stefanik will make her pitch to House Republicans in a candidate forum Thursday evening in her bid to replace Congresswoman Liz Cheney as GOP conference chair, the day after Cheney was unceremoniously ousted from her post due to her persistent criticism of former President Donald Trump.
Stefanik is considered the frontrunner for the post, as she has support from House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, prominent Freedom Caucus member Jim Jordan and Mr. Trump himself. No other Republican has formally thrown their hat in the ring, but a few conservative members have raised concerns about Stefanik’s credentials. A final vote is expected on Friday.
Congressman Chip Roy, a member of the Freedom Caucus whoindicating that he would not support Stefanik, is considering a bid for the post. His office said in a statement Wednesday that Roy was “not ruling anything out,” arguing that “this must be a contested race — not a coronation.”
Congressman Ken Buck, another member of the Freedom Caucus, told reporters on Wednesday that he believed Stefanik was a “liberal” and said he would not support her. When asked who he would prefer to support for conference chair, Buck indicated that he would prefer anyone else.
“How many members do we have? 212? Probably 211. Actually, not me. So 210,” Buck joked.
But Jordan has pointed out that Stefanik has been a staunch supporter of Mr. Trump, and said that he believed she would be able to effectively represent the positions of House Republicans. Stefanik was one of the former president’s most vocal supporters during the 2019 impeachment trial, and has been called a “star” by Mr. Trump.
“She’s an effective communicator,” Jordan told reporters on Tuesday.
Stefanik spoke with members of the Freedom Caucus on Wednesday evening, seeking to assuage some concerns. But she has noted that she already has support from a significant portion of the conference.
Stefanik said Wednesday afternoon she “absolutely” believes she has a majority of votes to be conference chair even if someone else jumps in the race. Speaking to reporters, she cited support from Freedom Caucus, the Republican Study Committee and the more moderate Tuesday group.
Asked about her message to members of the Freedom Caucus on Wednesday night, Stefanik said, “We have a lot of support from individual members in the Freedom Caucus.”
“I think it’s important that the conference chair listen to all members of the conference,” Stefanik said.