Quickly, get together leaders settled on Stefanik, a millennial congresswoman whose profile rose in late 2019 amid her fervent protection of then-President Donald Trump throughout his first impeachment inquiry.
Born out of what management noticed as a political necessity given the get together’s precarious place with girls voters, Stefanik was shortly elevated as Cheney’s presumptive substitute. Even in conversations between Home Minority Chief Kevin McCarthy and Trump, who vowed to recruit a main challenger in opposition to Cheney after she voted to question him in his second inquiry earlier this 12 months, Stefanik was recognized early on as an appropriate substitute, in response to two folks accustomed to their discussions. The previous President ultimately provided a public endorsement, describing Stefanik as a “gifted communicator” in a press release on Monday.
“They thought it was going to do injury within the media in the event that they tapped a person for the job,” mentioned one high Trump ally, describing discussions that occurred round Cheney’s ouster between the previous President and Home Republicans.
As an alternative, the hurried push to put in Stefanik as GOP chair — a vote that’s anticipated to return on Friday — has begun to backfire. Conservatives each on and off Capitol Hill are elevating questions on prioritizing optics — on this case, stopping the get together from having three males occupy its Home management ranks — over ideological consistency.
“We’re nearly on the anniversary of Joe Biden saying he wants to select a girl as a working mate. That is what the Democrats at all times do and I am in opposition to it,” mentioned the highest Trump ally.
In a column posted shortly after Cheney was faraway from her put up on Wednesday, the Washington Submit’s Jennifer Rubin contended that the “most evident motive” Republicans had settled on Stefanik, whose voting document has raised eyebrows among the many get together’s most conservative members, “is as a result of the get together — although it supposedly abhors identification politics — wants a skirt to cover behind because it jettisons a robust, independent-minded feminine colleague.”
One Home GOP staffer agreed with Rubin’s evaluation. The anointing of Stefanik, this staffer mentioned, represented “rank hypocrisy” contained in the get together, noting that Republicans have typically forged quotas which might be aimed toward addressing gender variety inside American corporations, presidential Cupboards, and different establishments as pandering or empty symbolism.
“That is what we declare to despise and but right here we’re saying, ‘We will not take into account these different candidates, who’re extra attuned to what our constituents need, as a result of they’re males,’ ” the staffer mentioned.
High Democrats have additionally seized on the GOP’s push to swap Stefanik in for Cheney. In a pretend “assist wished” advert launched by Home Speaker Nancy Pelosi final Tuesday, the California Democrat accused Republican leaders McCarthy and Home Minority Whip Steve Scalise of looking for to exchange Cheney with “a girl who is not a ‘risk’ to them.”
To make certain, not each Home Republican has supported the Stefanik-for-Cheney management swap. Some have mentioned the competition to exchange Cheney would profit from having a number of contenders, whereas others have proven little urge for food for slotting one other girl within the position to protect the get together from criticism.
“I ask myself day-after-day why Jim Jordan is not on our management crew,” Rep. Brian Mast of Florida informed CNN earlier Wednesday, signaling that he can be open to seeing others contained in the convention fill the No. 3 management place.
Efforts to coronate Stefanik as incoming convention chair come because the GOP finds itself in perilous territory with feminine voters, who contributed to the Democratic Celebration’s suburban features within the 2020 election and will stymie Republican hopes of retaking the Home subsequent fall if the connection stays strained. Republicans have to flip not less than 5 seats to take over the decrease chamber, and a few fear that Cheney’s orchestrated elimination from management will additional alienate girls proper because the get together is ramping up for its vital midterm push.
However insider efforts to preempt such penalties by selling one other girl to the management position could have additionally underscored the dangers of so-called identification politics, if the response to Stefanik amongst conservative Home Republicans is any indication.
“The dearth of any challenger does not take away any questions I’ve about her voting document and whether or not her positions are going to intrude with our means to look to message for the convention,” Rep. Ben Cline of Virginia, a member of the Home Freedom Caucus, the place Stefanik’s voting document and previous criticism of Trump has develop into a supply of consternation in latest days, informed CNN on Wednesday.
Roy, a Freedom Caucus member himself, was mentioned to be contemplating an official bid for the job as of Wednesday afternoon, together with his spokesperson telling reporters, “If the place have to be filed, then this have to be a contested race — not a coronation.” It’s not but clear if his candidacy would pose a big risk to Stefanik, who has privately recommended she would solely serve within the position by means of 2022 and has already acquired the backing of McCarthy, Trump and Scalise, the second-ranking Home Republican.
Regardless of publicly backing of Stefanik, McCarthy mentioned late Wednesday that he held off on holding a vote for his colleague instantly after Cheney’s ouster as a result of “competitors is nice.”
Former Republican Rep. Deborah Pryce of Ohio, who grew to become the primary girl to occupy the position of convention chair when she was elected to the place in 2003, had combined emotions in regards to the push to exchange Cheney with a girl. Pryce, who described Cheney’s ousting in an interview with CNN as “very unlucky,” mentioned she was happy that Republicans are more likely to preserve feminine illustration of their management ranks if Stefanik is voted into the position.
However she and others added that there’s a potential draw back to putting in one other girl within the No. 3 place for the third consecutive time, following Cheney and Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington, who held the title of GOP convention chair from January 2013 by means of January 2019.
“I feel Elise will do a fantastic job … but it surely is not, it should not be, and I hope it by no means turns into the token slot for ladies in management,” Pryce mentioned.
Although Republicans made vital strides within the final election so as to add girls to their congressional minority — together with with the assistance of Stefanik, whose management PAC gave $415,000 to Republican candidates in 2020 — the get together nonetheless pales behind Democrats in feminine illustration. A examine by the Pew Analysis Middle launched earlier this 12 months discovered that 38% of Democrats within the 117th Congress are girls, versus 14% of Republicans. A Republican girl has additionally by no means served as get together whip or Home Speaker.
For her half, Stefanik mentioned Wednesday she “completely” has sufficient assist contained in the convention to clinch the spot after talking straight with a few of the conservative Home members who raised issues about her candidacy earlier this week.
“We have now nice assist conference-wide, from members of the Freedom Caucus to the Tuesday Group,” she mentioned.
CNN’s Simone Pathe contributed to this story.