Conservative Chip Roy to Challenge Elise Stefanik for House GOP Post
(Bloomberg) -- Staunch conservative Chip Roy of Texas is challenging Representative Elise Stefanik for the job of No. 3 House GOP leader, bucking both Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and former President Donald Trump.
Stefanik is the choice of party leaders to replace Wyoming Representative Liz Cheney in the post after she was ousted this week over her high-profile criticism of Trump for his false claims about the 2020 election. Stefanik has been a strong defender of Trump, who still has sway over GOP voters and regularly attacks critics such as Cheney.
Roy and Stefanik addressed a closed-door session of House Republicans Thursday night ahead of a vote Friday morning to select Cheney’s replacement as GOP conference chair.
“Both candidates have spoken. It is very clear Elise is the right candidate for the job,” Representative Guy Reschenthaler of Pennsylvania said, citing the New York Republican’s fundraising and other party work.
Afterward, Roy and Stefanik emerged with the prediction that House Republicans would be united no matter who won. Stefanik described the session as “great -- great discussion. Great questions from members.”
“We’re in a strong place,” she said of her vote-counting in the race.
Asked whether he had a real chance of winning, Roy said only, “it’s up to the conference.”
While Stefanik appears to have support from most Republicans in the House, her moderate stances on many issues and her voting record has angered some conservatives. Representative Ken Buck of Colorado said he won’t support Stefanik, who voted in favor of Trump’s agenda less often than did Cheney. “I think she’s a liberal,” Buck said.
Roy, who was first elected in 2018, circulated a memo to colleagues earlier this week urging the party not to rush into electing Stefanik, who he depicted as not conservative enough. “We must avoid putting in charge Republicans who campaign as Republicans but then vote for and advance the Democrats’ agenda once sworn in -- that is, that we do not make the same mistakes we did in 2017,” he wrote in the memo.
His move is not without risk, which quickly became apparent with Trump’s disdainful response to his candidacy. “Can’t imagine Republican House Members would go with Chip Roy -- he has not done a great job, and will probably be successfully primaried in his own district,” the former president said in a statement on Thursday evening. “I support Elise, by far, over Chip!”
Roy, whose district includes part of San Antonio and Austin, did not directly comment on Trump’s statement, saying, “This is all D.C. swamp business,” and that Republicans were having a debate about real issues that affect.
Stefanik was elected to her district in Northern New York in 2014 as a moderate. The American Conservative Union Foundation gave her a 43.6% lifetime rating in voting on issues in line with that group’s positions. By comparison, Cheney’s rating by the group is 78%. Roy, who was elected in 2018, has a 94.6% rating from the conservative group.
Stefanik became one of Trump’s most outspoken defenders during House hearings before his first impeachment. She also opposed Trump’s second impeachment, unlike Cheney, who was among 10 House Republicans that joined Democrats in charging Trump with incitement of a resurrection. Stefanik also supported objections to Pennsylvania’s and Arizona’s presidential elections.
The post of House GOP conference chair is little-known outside of Washington, with a scant policy portfolio. It has only a modest modern history in being a springboard to higher leadership positions. It’s been a dead end. Yet Trump’s drive to depose Cheney and replace her with Stefanik has now suddenly raised the profile of the post as a key messaging platform for the party.
McCarthy on Thursday night characterized the now two-candidate race as “healthy,” despite his endorsement of Stefanik even before Cheney had been ousted.
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