A closer look at Elise Stefanik, the New York representative who could replace Liz Cheney

Politics

WASHINGTON (NewsNation Now) — House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy set a Wednesday vote for removing Rep. Liz Cheney from her Republican leadership post in the chamber, saying it was clear that he and his GOP colleagues “need to make a change.”

Cheney, R-Wyo., is the third highest-ranking Republican in the House and has come under fire from her own party over comments contradicting Trump’s false claims the 2020 election was stolen. Cheney was among 10 Republican representatives who voted to impeach Trump over the deadly insurrection at the Capitol on Jan. 6. She has called her impeachment vote an act of conscience in defense of democracy and the Constitution.

Cheney spoke on the House floor a day before the vote, “Today, we face threat America has never seen before. A former president who provoked a violent attack on this Capitol, in an effort to steal the election, has resumed his aggressive effort to convince Americans that the election was stolen from him. He risks inciting further violence.”

She added, “This is not about policy. This is not about partisanship. This is about our duty as Americans. Remaining silent and ignoring the lie emboldens the liar.”

Her replacement is expected to be New York GOP Rep. Elise Stefanik, who has received the backing of McCarthy and second-ranking House Republican leader, Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana. However, McCarthy might delay that vote.

Stefanik, now 36, was the youngest woman ever elected to Congress when she first won her district, which had voted twice for Democratic President Barack Obama and had been represented by Democrats in Congress since 1993.

Cheney’s job as chair of the House Republican conference includes formulating party messaging. Stefanik was an early Trump critic who has slowly embraced him over the past two years.

It is a profound change for Stefanik, a New York state Republican first elected in 2014 on a moderate platform, who avoided saying Trump’s name publicly during the 2016 campaign season and did not vote for him in that year’s Republican presidential primary.

The change won over party leaders in the House — as well as many people in her rural district, which encompasses much of the Adirondack Mountains.

“Here in Fulton County, we’re proud and very happy with the path she’s on,” said Sue McNeil, chair of the county’s Republican committee since 2008. “We’re Trump country up here.”

Stefanik is one of the 147 Republicans in Congress who voted in January to try to block the certification of President Joe Biden’s election win, hours after a deadly assault on the Capitol by Trump supporters.

She had worked for establishment Republicans including former President George W. Bush and the party’s 2012 vice presidential nominee, former House Speaker Paul Ryan.

The conservative Club for Growth, which rates members of Congress, gives her a lifetime score of just 35% for voting in line with its priorities, one of the worst among House Republicans, and well below Cheney’s 65%. That has led some conservative House members to push back against elevating Stefanik.

“Her voting record is atrocious,” Representative Chip Roy said last week on radio’s “Erick Erickson Show.”

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

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