Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) is the current front-runner to replace controversial colleague Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) as the third-ranking Republican in the caucus, according to multiple reports Wednesday morning.
Allies of the 36-year-old lawmaker have reportedly been working the phones since Tuesday aiming to quickly consolidate support among fellow Republican lawmakers as House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) appear ready to oust Cheney from her post as conference chair.
Cheney has drawn ire from colleagues of late for her outspoken criticism of former President Donald Trump — who remains a towering fixture of the party — leading some party leaders to believe she will serve as a liability in efforts to take back the House in 2022.
McCarthy was reportedly caught on a hot mic Tuesday saying he's "lost confidence" in Cheney and that "someone just has to bring a motion" in order for her ouster to take place.
Amid the controversy, Stefanik has emerged as the clear choice to be Cheney's replacement, Politico reported Wednesday morning. The New York lawmaker and vigorous Trump supporter has already earned the support of fellow House Republican leaders, including Scalise, whose team released a statement Wednesday supporting her promotion.
"House Republicans need to be solely focused on taking back the House in 2022 and fighting against Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi and President Biden's radical socialist agenda, and Elise Stefanik is strongly committed to doing that, which is why Whip Scalise has pledged to support her for Conference Chair," Scalise's spokesperson, Lauren Fine, said in a statement, according to The Hill.
McCarthy is also reportedly backing Stefanik's candidacy.
And Trump is also supportive of Stefanik's leadership bid, Fox News reported.
It should be noted that while Stefanik certainly differs from Cheney as it pertains to her public support for the former president, she is no stalwart conservative. In fact, she is far from it so far as voting records go.
Stefanik has earned a 48% lifetime score — a failing grade — from Heritage Action's voting scorecard, which measures how conservatively members vote. Cheney, on the other hand, has earned an 80% score.
Nonetheless, Stefanik is considered popular across the party. Politico reported that "she's well liked in the conference, from members of the centrist Tuesday Group to Freedom Caucus leader [Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio)], who had nice things to say about her on Fox on Tuesday."
The outlet added that she is has "somehow balanced voting with the center and still being among Trump's most fervent House defenders," and perhaps more importantly, she is "known for her prolific fundraising ability."