Highly-favored Stefanik faces challenger in fight for GOP conference chair after Cheney boot

Congressman Chip Roy (R-TX) is reportedly challenging Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) in the fight for Rep. Liz Cheney’s seat as GOP conference chair. Cheney was ousted on Wednesday as the third most powerful Republican in the House and the race is on to fill the vacancy.

Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO) confirmed that on Friday he will nominate Roy, who is a member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus.

Stefanik has been endorsed for the position by former President Trump, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), and Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA). She has been a staunch supporter of Trump, aggressively coming to his defense after the Capitol riot took place.

But a number of Republicans have raised the issue of Stefanik’s congressional record. They contend that she is too moderate to qualify as the speaker for the conference.

They are not alone as outside conservative advocacy groups are also taking a stand against the young New York Republican. Two unnamed senior GOP sources have reportedly claimed that officials have spoken with Trump in an attempt to influence his support, according to the New York Post.

Roy wrote a letter that he sent to House GOP members on Tuesday that lambasted Stefanik and called for more choices to be presented in the race: “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,” he noted.

“While not ruling anything out, Congressman Roy has never sought a position in conference leadership. His focus is on serving Texas’ 21st Congressional district, the American people, and the Constitution. But if the position must be filled, then this must be a contested race — not a coronation,” Roy’s office remarked in a statement to the Texas Tribune on Wednesday.

Roy’s candidacy was announced the day after Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) was removed by Republicans from her powerful position. Ostensibly because she voted to impeach Trump and has continued her harsh criticism of the former president since that time. Republicans felt her messaging for the House and the party was inappropriate and divisive.

Stefanik is widely seen as the frontrunner in the race and she claims to have enough votes to clinch the chair. She only needs a simple majority to win. Stefanik is also supported by a number of high-profile Republicans.

Other than Roy, no one else has come forward to oppose Stefanik for the seat.

She has reportedly been meeting with a number of groups including the Republican Study Committee, the Tuesday Group, and the House Freedom Caucus over the last few days in order to build support and to win votes. Stefanik is also looking to allay fears over her voting record.

The GOP candidate forum was slated to be held Thursday evening and the vote to fill the seat is scheduled for Friday morning.

Trump appears to solidly support Stefanik. On Thursday, he hinted he would support a primary challenger to Roy in his re-election bid after it was announced he would run against Stefanik.

“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. I support Elise, by far, over Chip!” Trump declared in a statement.

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