Liz Cheney’s days as House GOP conference chairman are numbered. Her support among the party leadership has evaporated after her headline-grabbing statements about the Republican take on the 2020 election being “The Big Lie.”
Many pro-Trump Republicans wanted her to walk the plank after her vote to impeach the former president. But Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy stood by her, probably realizing the dire position the party was in after the January 6 riot and not wanting to shed any blood while the party was reeling from the massive media assault.
But now, McCarthy appears to have had enough. Many top Republicans have requested that Cheney get off her anti-Trump platform and promote issues that unify the party. But Cheney refused.
The 2020 presidential election was not stolen. Anyone who claims it was is spreading THE BIG LIE, turning their back on the rule of law, and poisoning our democratic system.
— Liz Cheney (@Liz_Cheney) May 3, 2021
They can’t strip her of her seat in Congress, but they can humiliate her by voting her out of her position as conference chair.
“When you have only so much time, she wants to talk about Trump, not the people who are running the country into the ground,” one source said to Fox News. A senior House GOP leadership source said it was “more than likely” that Republicans will hold a vote on Cheney’s status as conference chair when the House returns to session next week.
Cheney won the last vote to end her leadership 145-61. And she still has a lot of residual support from Republicans who think that a leadership fight plays into the hands of Democrats at exactly the wrong time.
But Cheney is past her sell-by date and is on the way out.
“There is no way that Liz will be conference chair by month’s end,” one key McCarthy ally told The Hill on Monday. “When there is a vote, it won’t be a long conference; it will be fast. Everyone knows the outcome.”
The developments suggest it is not just members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus who are pushing to get rid of Cheney; senior lawmakers in the 154-member Republican Study Committee, the largest GOP caucus on Capitol Hill, have been openly critical of Cheney and are now trying to orchestrate her removal.
“This is a broad range of lawmakers who have had it with her,” said a second McCarthy ally. “She’s a liability, and McCarthy’s as fed up as the rest of us that she is focused on the past rather than winning back the House.”
Cheney may, indeed, be focused on the past. She sees it as a platform on which to launch her 2024 presidential bid.
Naturally, there are a lot of Republicans lining up to replace her. Rep. Jim Banks, who chairs the powerful Republican Study Committee, is openly angling for the job, but there are others in the party who believe Cheney should be replaced by a woman.
Banks’ pro-Trump credentials are impeccable and he appears to have some innovative messaging strategies.
On Banks’ watch, the RSC has begun blasting out weekly newsletters modeled after POLITICO Playbook that try to serve up a buzzy mix of politics, policy and personality. The RSC also regularly compiles talking points for its members that often get leaked to conservative media outlets. Banks crafted his own memo outlining his vision for the GOP’s future that won praise from top Republicans. And the RSC has also helped coordinate media opportunities for its members, with Banks routinely popping up in D.C.-based coverage himself.
Banks’ effort to assemble a rival messaging machine is widely viewed by his colleagues as an audition for Cheney’s job, which governs both communications and member services.
But there are some Republicans who may want to replace Cheney with someone other than a white male.
House Republicans are moving closer to ousting Conference Chair Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) from leadership, and are already considering replacements — including Reps. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), Ann Wagner (R-Mo.) and Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.), congressional aides tell Axios.
Most members recognize Cheney can’t be succeeded by a white man, given their top two leaders — House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) — fill that demographic.
Frankly, it’s not likely that Republican members care as much about “diversity” as Axios, but the point should be considered. All three women are capable, although Stefanik, a rising star in the party, may run for governor of New York.
The denouement to the Cheney drama won’t be pretty, but it should please Trump and the purgers who are out to purify the GOP of all anti-Trump elements.