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Thomas Gallatin / May 6, 2021

Is Ousting Cheney for Stefanik Good for Conservatives?

Based on voting record, Cheney was far more in line with Trump’s agenda than was Stefanik.

Conservative Republicans might want to be careful what they wish for. Following Liz Cheney’s recent dustup with Donald Trump, where she publicly excoriated his views on the 2020 election results, Republican leaders appear poised to push her out of her position as House Republican Conference Chair and hand that post to Elise Stefanik.

Combine House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s “accidental” hot mic comments with House Minority Whip Steve Scalise’s endorsement of New York’s Stefanik for conference chair and it looks like the writing is on the wall for Cheney, the lone representative from Wyoming. A spokesman for Scalise said, “House Republicans need to be solely focused on taking back the House in 2022 and fighting against Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi and President [Joe] Biden’s radial socialist agenda, and Elise Stefanik is strongly committed to doing that, which is why Whip Scalise has pledged to support her for conference chair.”

For what it’s worth, Trump also threw his support behind Stefanik. “Liz Cheney is a warmongering fool who has no business in Republican Party Leadership,” he said. “We want leaders who believe in the Make America Great Again movement, and prioritize the values of America First. Elise Stefanik is a far superior choice, and she has my COMPLETE and TOTAL Endorsement for GOP Conference Chair. Elise is a tough and smart communicator!”

The primary reason Cheney may lose her leadership spot, likely to Stefanik, is Trump. That’s too bad if one is concerned with which of the two representatives has a greater commitment to conservative values. Or, to put a finer point on it, which one “believes in the Make America Great Again movement, and prioritizes the values of America First.”

Ironically, Cheney voted far more consistently for Trump’s agenda than did Stefanik. According to her House voting record, Cheney was 92.9% in line with Trump’s policy positions to Stefanik’s 77.7%. And yet, the narrative being presented by Trump is that Cheney is a roadblock to America First. With all due respect, that’s nonsense.

So, who is Stefanik? She’s a young rising star in GOP ranks who showed great acumen during Trump’s first impeachment trial as a member of his defense team. This along with her support of an objection to accepting the Electoral College votes from Pennsylvania likely won her Trump’s support.

In 2018, Stefanik created a political action committee whose goal was to support more Republican women running for Congress. It seems to have paid dividends, as a record number of Republican women were elected in 2020. This result may also be a significant factor explaining GOP leaders’ support for Stefanik.

Regarding her voting record, the Washington Examiner reports, “The American Conservative Union gives Stefanik a lifetime rating of 44%, compared to 78% for Cheney, while Heritage Action gives Stefanik a 48% lifetime score compared to 80% for Cheney.”

It’s clear that for Trump, loyalty to him personally supersedes even support for his policy positions. That’s something Cheney, in voting for his impeachment following the January 6 Capitol riot, refused to concede.

Cheney’s biggest mistake was her decision to respond to Trump rather than ignore him. Attempting to relitigate, one way or the other, the outcome of the 2020 election doesn’t move the party or the country forward. Learn from the past in order to avoid making similar mistakes in the future, but the past cannot be undone. Trump himself would do well to end his over-the-top criticism of Republicans and aim his ire at Biden and the Democrats’ extreme leftist agenda.

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