Top House GOP leaders and a stream of freshmen Republican women congratulated Rep. Elise Stefanik on her election as the House Republican Conference chair Friday morning just two days after members ousted Rep. Liz Cheney from the gig over her condemnations of former President Trump.
Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., was the first to acknowledge Stefanik, R-N.Y., at a press conference shortly after the election.
“I want to congratulate Elise Stefanik and welcome her to the leadership team. I want to thank Chip Roy as well, we had a healthy debate and a good election,” McCarthy said, nodding to the bid Roy, R-Ariz., put up for conference chair himself.
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“We’ve got a lot of work to do on this leadership team,” McCarthy added before launching into criticism of congressional Democrats and President Biden.
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“I also want to congratulate our new conference chair Elise Stefanik. Congratulations, you’re going to do a great job,” Minority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., added. “Our conference is incredibly unified right now but we’re also very concerned because America is experiencing numerous crises.”
House Republican Conference Vice Chair Mike Johnson, R-La., said, “Elise did a great job over the last several days, extraordinary job, reaching out to every member of the conference presenting a vision for unified leadership. She committed to work with everyone from all across the country in our conference.”
But potentially the strongest praise for Stefanik came from the group of freshmen Republican women, many of whom Stefanik helped during their 2020 campaigns. The 2020 House GOP freshman class was lauded as historically diverse for the party in large part due to the number of women elected to Congress for the first time.
Amid the jockeying to oust and replace Cheney, R-Wyo., the goodwill Stefanik has gained in recent years in fundraising and campaigning for Republicans in general – but specifically for the new women in the House – was seen as one of her greater strengths.
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“Congrats @Elisestefanik!” Rep. Ashley Hinson, R-Iowa, tweeted. “I know we will have a strong united message against the far-left’s agenda under Elise’s leadership. She is just as ready as I am to get our majority back in 2022”
“New chair, new day,” Rep. Kat Cammack, R-Fla., said. “Time to get back to work as one team, one mission, and that mission is to take back the House. Our kids’ future is counting on it. Let’s go!”
Rep. María Elvira Salazar, R-Fla., a former Telemundo anchor who unseated Rep. Donna Shalala, D-Fla., in an election many Republicans see as a bellwether for what the future of a more diverse GOP could look like, also backed Stefanik as the new conference chair.
“Congrats to Congresswoman @EliseStefanik on being elected as our new @HouseGOP Conference Chairwoman!” she tweeted in both English and Spanish.
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Rep. Nicole Malliotakis, R-N.Y., who also defeated an incumbent Democrat in 2020, congratulated Stefanik and said, “The Republican party must unite against the REAL threat to America… destructive polices causing skyrocketing crime, open borders, record debt, inflation, higher food and gas prices, closed schools & socialism.”
Others in the party also took a forward-looking stance, including Rep. Warren Davidson, R-Ohio.
“Don’t stop thinking about tomorrow,” he said in a statement to Fox News. “Earlier this week, we finally shed Liz Cheney’s negative influence. Now I look forward to a united team staying focused on the task at hand. To stop Democratic destruction, we must take back the House.”
Trump also lauded Stefanik for her “Big and Overwhelming victory” and said in a statement, “Congratulations to Elise Stefanik for her Big and Overwhelming victory! The House GOP is united and the Make America Great Again movement is Strong!”
Rep. Matt Rosendale, R-Mont., decried the fact the party spent the last few months mired in infighting but expressed support for Stefanik. Rosendale was one of the earliest House members calling for Cheney’s ouster.
“This week can mark a real change in the Conference after wasting the first 5 months of the 2022 cycle,” Rosendale said. “After Cheney, we have small shoes to fill, but I look forward to working with the new leadership team.”
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Roy congratulated Stefanik on her election, calling her a “friend and colleague.” Roy said his intention in running against Stefanik was “to provide an alternative with a proven record of standing up not for politicians — but for freedom, the Constitution, and the conservative principles Americans hold dear.”
But, he added, “Now that the conference has made its decision, it’s time for us to move forward with a vision and a plan to fight for the forgotten men and women of this country.”
Cheney’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Fox News.
Democrats, meanwhile, said that the elevation of Stefanik, a staunch Trump defender, to replace Cheney amounted to a black eye for the GOP.
“The Republican Party’s dumpster fire has fully engulfed them. Elise Stefanik’s win today makes clear there is no place for truth in today’s Republican Party,” Democratic National Committee Spokesperson Adonna Biel said in a statement. “While the Republican Party has completed its transformation to the party of Donald Trump, President Biden and Democrats are delivering for Americans, rebuilding after the pandemic, and getting us back on track.”