New York Rep. Elise Stefanik has emerged as the likeliest choice to replace House Republican Conference Chairwoman Liz Cheney, the No. 3 House Republican.

House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, the No. 2 House Republican, publicly backed Stefanik, and Pennsylvania Republican Rep. Guy Reschenthaler is actively whipping votes to make her the new conference chairwoman.

And former President Donald Trump backed Stefanik to replace Cheney on Wednesday. “Elise Stefanik is a far superior choice, and she has my COMPLETE and TOTAL Endorsement for GOP Conference Chair. Elise is a tough and smart communicator!” Trump said.

A vote on ousting Cheney, a Wyoming congresswoman first elected in 2016, could happen as soon as next week.

Stefanik, 36, represents New York’s 21st Congressional District, a rural northern district in the state straddling the Canadian border. She sits on the House Intelligence, Education, and Armed Services committees.

A Harvard University graduate, Stefanik was an aide in the George W. Bush White House and worked on the Mitt Romney-Paul Ryan 2012 campaign before running for Congress.

Stefanik became the youngest woman to ever hold office in the House after her election in 2014, when she was 30. New York Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez later broke that record when she was elected at age 29 in 2018. In 2017, Stefanik married communications professional Matthew Manda.

Congressional history

Stefanik’s profile shot up during Trump’s first impeachment. She was a member of Trump’s impeachment defense team, and her televised head-butting with Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff of California and defense of Trump earned widespread praise from Republicans, including the president himself.

One notable exchange consisted of California Republican Rep. Devin Nunes attempting to yield time to Stefanik during a hearing, and Schiff, the chairman of the intelligence committee, refusing to allow it.

During the trial, she raised $250,000 for her campaign in 15 minutes after an appearance on Sean Hannity’s Fox News show and later landed a slot speaking at the Republican National Convention in 2020.

Unlike Cheney, Stefanik supported an objection to accepting Electoral College votes for President Joe Biden from one state: Pennsylvania. “I am committed to restoring the faith of the American people in our elections — that they are free, fair, secure, and according to the United States Constitution,” Stefanik said in a tweet on Jan. 4. After her objection, Harvard removed Stefanik from a university advisory committee.

Some commentators have argued that when accounting for a full congressional record before Stefanik shot to stardom, she is actually less conservative than Cheney.

For instance, she voted in favor of the Equality Act in 2019 but against it when it passed the House again earlier this year. Cheney voted against the legislation both times.

The American Conservative Union gives Stefanik a lifetime rating of 44%, compared to 78% for Cheney, while Heritage Action gives Stefanik a 48% lifetime score compared to 80% for Cheney.

The measure depends on methodology, though. GovTrack’s ideology score measuring votes during the 115th Congress from 2017-2019 ranked Stefanik as the No. 107 most ideologically right-wing House Republican, compared to No. 183 for Cheney.

Political ambitions

In 2018, Stefanik started a political action committee aimed at supporting Republican women running for Congress. When a record number of Republican women were elected in 2020, Stefanik declared it the “year of the Republican woman.”

Stefanik made moves earlier this year indicating that she would like to run for governor of New York as Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo battled scandals over his advances toward women and disclosures of nursing home deaths from COVID-19.

New York will lose a congressional seat as a result of the 2020 Census, spelling trouble for Stefanik. New Congressional boundaries drawn for the 2022 cycle could mean one less Republican representing the state.

Author: Emily Brooks, Political Reporter

Source: Washington Examiner : Who is Elise Stefanik, favorite to replace Liz Cheney?