North Country Rep. Elise Stefanik is the frontrunner to replace Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, a harsh critic of former President Donald Trump, to become leader of the House Republican Conference.
SUNY Plattsburgh political science professor expert Harvey Schantz said Cheney’s rejection of Trump’s continued assertion that he won the 2020 election is “getting in the way” of House leader’s message.
“After repeated issues with her, they’re ready now to see if they can take action,” he said.
Schantz says it’s unusual to see the chair change hands while Congress is in session, but that Republican leaders are committed to a united front in an effort to win back the House in 2022. Unlike Cheney, Stefanik stood by Trump after his supporters rioted at the U.S. Capitol on January 6 and through his second impeachment.
Trump said Wednesday that Stefanik has his “complete and total endorsement.” Stefanik responded with a tweet thanking him for his support.
The NRA has also backed Stefanik’s rise. Schantz says it will give Stefanik’s 21st Congressional District a seat at the table when it comes to Republicans’ legislative agenda. But, he notes, as conference chair, Stefanik would spend more time in Washington and could leave her stretched thin at home.
“Her attention to Washington might cause her to lose a little bit of focus on her district,” he said.
A secret ballot vote by House Republicans on replacing Cheney could come as early as next week.