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.
What we're hearing: 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.
- Selling such a team in a midterm year would compound the GOP's challenges with suburban women.
- The conference meets next Wednesday, May 12. Most members expect the process to oust Cheney to begin then, whether formally or informally, after some of McCarthy's top lieutenants broadened their complaints against her.
- It would take up to a two-thirds vote of the 212 caucus members to replace her — a relatively high bar if a secret ballot is held.
Behind the scenes: When Cheney faced an uprising within the party in February over her vote to impeach former President Trump, McCarthy supported her and told his colleagues he wanted her to remain as GOP conference chair.
- But leadership and many in the rank and file were angry last week when Cheney's criticism of Trump dominated coverage of the House Republican conference in Orlando, Florida.
Between the lines: The criticism prompted immediate speculation about her replacement. Republican Hill sources told Axios the list could include:
- Stefanik (R-N.Y.): Widely seen as a rising star in the party, she gained popularity for fiercely defending Trump during his first impeachment.
- Her seat in New York's 21st District could be affected due to the recent apportionment from the 2020 census. New York will lose a seat in the 2022 midterm elections, and Democrats are in full control of the state's government.
- Stefanik also is considering running for governor of New York.
- Wagner (R-Mo.): A member of Congress since 2013, she was initially considered a potential replacement to Cheney as conference chair when she was considering running for Senate.
- Wagner is now debating whether to run for the seat that Sen. Roy Blunt (R-M0.) is vacating due to retirement.
- Walorski (R-Ind.): She also has served in the House since 2013 and is the top Republican on the House Ethics Committee. She serves on the powerful Ways and Means Committee.
- Walorski is well-liked within the party and is seen as someone who wouldn't cause waves in leadership.
But, but, but: Several aides mentioned Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) since she previously served as chairwoman of the House GOP conference from 2012 to 2018.
- Some also think Rodgers could be "a good placeholder" before the next leadership elections, one leadership aide told Axios.
- Nonetheless, Rodgers was recently selected as the top Republican on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, something many aides don't think she'd want to relinquish.
Worth noting: None of these women voted to impeach Trump this year or in 2019.