House Republicans are on track to boot Liz Cheney from her leadership position next week, and the leading candidate to replace her is 36-year-old Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York. But Stefanik is now running into friction of her own from conservative groups who don't think she's conservative enough. Coverage:
- The issue: The Hill frames this as a "loyalty test" revolving around Donald Trump. The former president likely "sealed the contest" for the leadership post by giving Stefanik his strong support, write Mike Lillis and Scott Wong. She has likewise been one of Trump's most vocal supporters over the past year. The problem is that her voting record is far more moderate than Cheney's on policy issues.
- The critics: Politico echoes the above, with Tina Nguyen writing that "MAGAworld" in general does not like Stefanik, even if Trump himself does. Figures including Lou Dobbs, Ann Coulter, and popular MAGA news and opinion sites have loudly expressed their displeasure with Stefanik in recent days. Groups such the Club for Growth and FreedomWorks similarly weighed in. The latter cited her "dismal" 37% voting record by the group's standard.
- Example: Stefanik "is the identity of a swamp creature, and she has probably the most liberal voting record of anybody who represents a strong Republican district,” says Ryan James Girdusky, author of the National Populist newsletter.
- Countering: Longtime Trump ally Steve Bannon (who interviewed Stefanik on Thursday) is strongly in her camp, along with the president. "You’ve got (Josh) Hawley in the Senate and Stefanik [in the House]," he says. "You’ve got to look at the journey." The Hill reports that Stefanik is privately telling people she has the leadership post locked up, and CNN quotes an anonymous conservative activist on why: Cheney may have the better voting record, but "Elise satisfies the litmus test that she is pro-Trump. And that's all that counts these days in our coalition."
- Summing up: At the conservative-leaning Hot Air, Allahpundit compares Stefanik to Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, also of New York. Both started out as moderates but shifted as their constituencies did. Gillibrand went left and Stefanik right, "turning from establishmentarian to Trumpist." Sure, groups such as FreedomWorks have a right to be ticked about Stefanik's voting record, but it doesn't matter because of Trump's endorsement. "Only one person in this party gets a vote and he’s cast it. The debate is over."
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