Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives elected Donald Trump’s candidate Elise Stefanik to their leadership, succeeding Liz Cheney, who they ousted earlier this week for criticizing the former president’s continued false claims of election fraud.
Stefanik, a 36-year-old congresswoman from New Yorkstate, rose to prominence with her fierce defense of Trump during his first impeachment trial, while Cheney angered her Republican colleagues by rejecting what she called Trump’s “big lie” about his November loss to Democratic President Joe Biden.
The secret-ballot vote boosted Trump’s dominance over the party even after it lost its majorities in the House and Senate, as well as the White House, during his single term in office. Trump is positioning himself to play a major role in next year’s congressional elections and is also flirting with a 2024 White House run.
“He is a critical part of our Republican team,” Stefanik said. “I believe that voters choose the leader of the Republican Party and President Trump is the leader that they look to.”
Stefanik defeated Representative Chip Roy, who entered the race to serve as chair of the House Republican Conference on Thursday night
House conservatives including Roy had complained that Stefanik’s voting record was not conservative enough, including a vote against Trump’s 2017 tax cuts, his main legislative accomplishment. But the party in the end lined up behind Trump, who blasted Roy’s entry into the contest in a statement, hinting at backing a primary challenger to him next year.
A woman has held the No. 3 House Republican leadership job since 2013, as the party has tried to broaden its appeal to independent voters, including suburban women.
The secret ballot tally, according to a source in the room, was 134-46, with nine voting “present” and three votes cast for other candidates.
Conceding defeat, Roy, a Texas congressman, said he succeeded in delivering a message to leadership that it should have created a more open process for electing Cheney’s replacement.
“Elise is our chair,” Roy said after the vote. “Now we’re going to get busy, pointing out how the Democratic Party is destroying America.”
CHENEY TO FIGHT ON
Cheney has vowed to continue to fight to prevent Trump from winning the White House again in 2024.
Stefanik was a fierce defender of Trump during his two House impeachment trials. Despite her somewhat moderate voting record, she defeated the rock-solid conservative Roy.