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U.S. Rep. Ashley Hinson is backing a New York Republican to lead her party's conference over current chair Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, though she stopped short of criticizing the longtime party chair.
Hinson said Thursday she would be supporting Rep. Elise Stefanik's bid to become the House Republican Conference Chair, reiterating that position in a phone call with reporters Friday.
"I respect Congresswoman Cheney's record, but I believe Elise is the right person to unify our Congress," Hinson said on the call, adding, "I believe she has the votes to do so."
The public battle for conference chair pits Cheney, who has repeatedly dismissed President Donald Trump's claims that the 2020 election was stolen, against Stefanik, who has cast doubt on the election results and was endorsed by Trump this week.
"Liz Cheney is a warmongering fool who has no business in Republican Party leadership," Trump wrote on his website Wednesday. "Elise Stefanik is a far superior choice."
Hinson, who swung the 1st District to the GOP in a state that voted twice for Trump, followed suit the following day in a statement from her office.
"Our Republican conference should be focused entirely on taking back the House majority and firing Speaker (Nancy) Pelosi, and I'm confident Elise will lead that charge," Hinson wrote.
Conservatives oppose Stefanik
Republicans are expected to vote on the chairmanship Wednesday, though the Associated Press reported Friday the vote could be delayed because conservatives don’t want to vote for Stefanik in the House’s No. 3 leadership job.
It’s unlikely any challenger would defeat Stefanik, who has the backing of Trump, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California and No. 2 House GOP leader Steve Scalise of Louisiana.
That triumvirate, especially the former president, whose grip on the party seems as firm as ever, virtually assures victory for Stefanik, 36, a onetime Trump critic who has evolved into his strident ally.
But with the hard right distrustful of Stefanik, owner of one of the House GOP’s most moderate voting records, conservatives say forcing her to face a challenge would signal she’s not universally accepted and will have to contend with them moving forward.
“We must not rush into a de-facto coronation of any handpicked replacement whose voting record does not reflect the views of the conference,” first-term conservative Rep. Bob Good, R-Va., said in a statement. “We must select someone who will wholeheartedly support the conservative membership.”
The Associated Press contributed.