Stefanik confident of a GOP leadership win: ‘We have great support’


Rep. Elise Stefanik predicted Wednesday that she has the votes to become the next House Republican Conference chair after fellow GOP member ousted Rep. Liz Cheney on Wednesday.

Ms. Stefanik told reporters she has the support of a broad range of House Republicans from moderates to conservative members of the Freedom Caucus.

“Absolutely,” Ms. Stefanik said when asked if she has the support of the majority of the caucus.

“We have a great support conference by the members of the Freedom Caucus to [Republican Study Committee] to Tuesday Group,” she said, referring to the conference’s most-conservative and most-moderate groups, respectively.

Rep. Jim Jordan, Ohio Republican, a co-founder of the Freedom Caucus, also predicted Ms. Stefanik would be elected when the caucus votes Friday on Ms. Cheney’s successor to the No. 3 leadership spot in the conference.

“I think it’s going to be Elise,” he said.”She’s a good communicator, got the votes.” Mr. Jordan also noted that Ms. Stefanik has the support of Mr. Trump and Mr. McCarthy.

The backing of former President Trump appeared to be helping keep the field clear of challengers for Stefanik.

The conference’s staunchest conservatives, who would be the most likely candidates to challenge the more moderate Ms. Stefanik, were staying on the sidelines for fear of crossing Mr. Trump and jeopardizing their political careers.

“I don’t think there will be anybody that wants to risk a future chairmanship or a future role in the party by taking on Elise Stefanik, which I think is terribly unfortunate,” said Rep. Ken Buck, a Colorado Republican and a member of the Freedom Caucus.

In addition to Mr. Trump, Ms. Stefanik enjoys the support of Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Minority Whip Steve Scalise.

Some have questioned the conservative credential of Ms. Stefanik, who represents an upstate New York district. Critics note her vote against the 2017 tax cuts.

So far, however, no challengers have stepped forward.

Rep. Chip Roy of Texas was the first to raise the concerns about Ms. Stefanik in a letter Tuesday to fellow Republican members.

“With all due respect to my friend, Elise Stefanik, let us contemplate the message Republican leadership is about to send by rushing to coronate a spokesperson whose voting record embodies much of what led to the 2018 ass-kicking we received by Democrats,” Mr. Roy wrote.

Mr. Roy suggested the party could be better off leaving the position vacant.

Mr. Buck echoed the concern.

“I think she is a liberal,” said Mr. Buck, adding that he does not support her for the leadership job.

Ms. Stefanik plans to meet with the Freedom Caucus later Wednesday.

“I think what she’s doing is she’s making the rounds in a more intimate setting where people can ask questions,” said Mr. Buck.

• Seth McLaughlin contributed to this report.

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