As a cohort of House Republicans angle to oust Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) as conference chair, the names reportedly floated to replace the House GOP leadership’s most ardent critic of former President Donald Trump appear to primarily be women who have defended him.
Congressional aides told Axios that among their considerations are Reps. Elise Stefanik (R-NY), Ann Wagner (R-MO) and Jackie Walorski (R-IN).
None of the women discussed as potential replacements voted to impeach Trump in February or during his first impeachment in 2019. On Jan. 6, Stefanik and Walorski had also objected to the Electoral College certification of the presidential election.
The development comes after Cheney refused to back down from challenging efforts by the former president and some of her colleagues to spread Trump’s false claims about a stolen election.
“The 2020 presidential election was not stolen,” she tweeted Monday. “Anyone who claims it was is spreading THE BIG LIE, turning their back on the rule of law, and poisoning our democratic system.”
The calls for her ouster initially stemmed from her impeachment vote against former President Donald Trump for inciting an insurrection on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.
Cheney won over a vote for her replacement in February when GOP lawmakers voted 145 to 61 to retain her.
A wave of calls for her replacement have since resurfaced, however, as she openly challenges other false and dangerous conspiracy theories that continue to wreak havoc within the GOP, including those about the security of last year’s ballot.
The conference is set to meet next week which presumably could begin the process of her ouster after a few House Republicans over the weekend clamored that she could be removed from her No. 3 role “within a month.”
House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) has the power to call for that vote, but House GOP sources told CNN that it’s unclear if he would do it as soon as next week.
McCarthy was slow to rush to Cheney’s defense in February, but eventually did. It’s less clear where he stands after she publicly broke with him on issues surrounding the Capitol attack during the annual GOP policy retreat in Orlando, Florida, last week.
House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) had defended her early on when it came to that vote, which was conducted by secret ballot.
While Axios sources predict that Cheney’s replacement would likely be a woman, it appears that Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN) and chairman of the Republican Study Committee — who is among Cheney’s most prominent critics — could also be eyeing the job.
“If there’s a role to play, where I can continue to do what I’m doing as RSC chairman, I want to do it,” Banks said during a Politico interview when asked whether he’d run for leadership. He described conference chair as “the most natural comparison to RSC chair.”
“And that’s something I think I would really enjoy, because it’s what I’m doing now,” he said.