Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) is consolidating support among detractors of Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) to replace her as chair of the House Republican conference, but the two once enjoyed a seemingly close political alliance.
While appearing at a 2019 forum on electing Republican women to Congress alongside Cheney and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Stefanik told Cheney, “I was very proud to nominate you to serve as our conference chair.”
Stefanik and Cheney also joined with just three other House Republicans to co-sponsor a 2019 bill to counter President Donald Trump’s efforts to withdraw from Afghanistan by requiring a minimum of 10,000 U.S. troops in the country.
Stefanik was first elected to Congress in 2014 and cultivated a reputation as a moderate who sought to increase diversity in the GOP’s ranks while working across the aisle with Democrats. She rose to right-wing stardom in 2019 with her fierce defense of Trump during his impeachment trial. Cheney, by contrast, has been seen as a staunch conservative since her election in 2016 and only became one of her party’s loudest anti-Trump voices in the aftermath of the Jan. 6 attack.
92.9%. That’s how often Cheney voted with Trump over the course of her career, according to FiveThirtyEight’s “Trump Score” tracker. Stefanik, by contrast, has a 77.7% career-long Trump score. Some House Republicans have pointed to Stefanik’s opposition to Trump-backed bills to dismantle the Affordable Care Act and fund a wall on the southern border as evidence she isn’t the right fit to lead the House GOP.
Some pro-Trump voices have derided Stefanik for what they see as her shifting ideology and willingness to latch onto figures like Trump in order to ride prevailing political winds. The pro-Trump website Big League Politics wrote that Stefanik “didn’t emerge as one of Trump’s foremost defenders until his 2019 impeachment saga,” calling her “wishy-washy at best and a wolf in sheep’s clothing at worst.”