The New York congresswoman had strong support from Republican leadership, who ousted the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney earlier this week in order to “unify the party.”
WASHINGTON (CN) — Congresswoman Elise Stefanik was elected to chair the GOP conference in a 134-46 secret-ballot vote behind closed doors on Friday, replacing Representative Liz Cheney who was ousted from the position earlier this week.
Stefanik, a fourth-term congresswoman from New York, is known as a moderate-turned-Trump loyalist — rising to Republican stardom in 2019 when she gave an impassioned defense of then-President Donald Trump during his first impeachment trial.
“I’m truly honored and humbled to earn the support of my colleagues to serve as House Republican Conference Chair,” Stefanik said Friday in a statement following the vote. “House Republicans are united in our focus to fight on behalf of the American people to save our country from the radical Socialist Democrat agenda of President Biden and Nancy Pelosi.”
Even before Cheney was voted out, Stefanik, 36, had the backing of House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy, Minority Whip Steve Scalise and Trump.
“The House GOP has a massive opportunity to upgrade this week from warmonger Liz Cheney to gifted communicator Elise Stefanik,” Trump said in a statement earlier this week.
Her sole challenger, Representative Chip Roy of Texas — who claimed that Stafanik’s voting record was too moderate — dropped out.
According to FiveThirtyEight, Stafanik voted in line with Trump’s positions only 77.7% of the time. In contrast, Cheney, one of the most conservative members of Congress, voted with the former president 92.9% of the time.
But, after Cheney butted heads with her party over her repeated criticism of Trump and his allies, House leadership moved quickly to replace the Wyoming Republican, claiming that it was necessary to unify the party ahead of the 2022 midterm elections.
Cheney was one of 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach former President Donald Trump for his role in inciting the Jan. 6 Capitol attack, and voiced that Trump shouldn’t speak at the Conservative Political Action Conference.
“We Republicans need to stand for genuinely conservative principles, and steer away from the dangerous and anti-democratic Trump cult of personality,” Cheney wrote last week in a opinion piece for The Washington Post, expressing her frustration with her party’s move to oust her.
The move to replace Cheney with Stefanik signals how important loyalty to Trump remains for the Republican Party.
“Voters determine the leader of the Republican Party, and President Trump is the leader that they look to,” Stefanik said after the vote. “He is an important voice in the Republican Party and we look forward to working with him.”