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Trump Backs Stefanik for GOP Leadership, Despite Attacks on Moderate Record

'With all due respect to my friend, Elise Stefanik, let us contemplate the message Republican leadership is about to send...'

Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, said he is considering a challenge against Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-NY, for House GOP conference chair.

The closely watched contest pits two rising GOP stars in a bid to replace Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., who was ousted from the leadership position on Wednesday.

Both made names for themselves during the Trump presidency: Roy as a staunch border-security advocate, and Stefanik as a no-holds-barred interrogator during the House Intelligence Committee’s 2019 impeachment hearings against former president Donald Trump.

Stefanik, the favorite for the position, is backed by Trump and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.

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However, Roy, a member of the conservative Freedom Caucus, publicly expressed concerns about her moderate voting record.

“With all due respect to my friend, Elise Stefanik, let us contemplate the message Republican leadership is about to send by rushing to coronate a spokesperson whose voting record embodies much of what led to the 2018 ass-kicking we received by Democrats,” Roy wrote in a memo to his colleagues this week.

In the memo, Roy pointed to several of Stefanik’s controversial votes:

  • in favor of the leftist Equality Act
  • against Trump’s proposed withdrawal from Afghanistan
  • against Trump’s 2017 tax cuts
  • in favor of ending the emergency declaration that allowed Trump to begin constructing the southern border wall.

In total, Stefanik voted with Trump only 77.7% of the time, according to FiveThirtyEight, while Cheney voted with Trump 92.9% of the time.

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“After vacating the current Conference Chair (held by Chairwoman Cheney), we should either choose someone who reflects our conservative values or perhaps leave the position vacant and focus not on a position most people do not care about,” Roy wrote.

Instead of engaging in palace intrigue that offered fodder to Democrat political adversaries, Roy said the GOP should focus on maintaining a unified front in its messaging.

 He called for “a strong agenda based on defending Americans from the radical left remaking their communities, the corporate-backed woke mob cancelling them, and a government tyrannically using the power of ‘unlimited’ money to destroy their livelihoods and indoctrinate their children.”

One source familiar with Roy’s thinking said he will only jump into the race if no one else steps forward to challenge Stefanik.

But such a challenge was likely to come with its own set of political risks, which could result in other conservatives suffering the same unceremonious fate as Cheney.

Trump weighed in Thursday to support his fellow New Yorker, Stefanik, and painted an unflattering picture of Roy in the process.

“Can’t imagine Republican House Members would go with Chip Roy—he has not done a great job, and will probably be successfully primaried in his own district,” Trump wrote in a statement. “I support Elise, by far, over Chip!”

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