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Stefanik has major backing to fill House GOP Conference Chair slot, but will she face competition?

Rep. Madison Cawthorn has said that he would back Rep. Mike Johnson if Johnson mounts a bid for the House GOP leadership role.

Updated: May 12, 2021 - 11:02pm

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The House GOP on Wednesday ousted Rep. Liz Cheney from her post as House Republican Conference Chair, and while high-profile Republicans including former President Donald Trump and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy have backed Rep. Elise Stefanik to fill the slot, Rep. Chip Roy has said that Stefanik should not go unchallenged. 

Rep. Roy of Texas in a Tuesday memo to his GOP House colleagues wrote, "with all due respect to my friend, Elise Stefanik, let us contemplate the message Republican leadership is about to send by rushing to coronate a spokesperson whose voting record embodies much of what led to the 2018 ass-kicking we received by Democrats."

Roy said on Wednesday that he does not "believe there should be a coronation" and that Stefanik "should have an opponent."

The lawmaker is not ruling out a run: "While not ruling anything out, Congressman Roy has never sought a position in conference leadership," a spokesman said. "But if the position must be filled, then this must be a contested race — not a coronation."

Rep. Madison Cawthorn has said he would support Rep. Mike Johnson if the Louisiana Republican mounts a bid for the leadership role. When asked whether he supported Stefanik, Cawthorn, a freshman lawmaker from North Carolina, described the congresswoman as a "serious legislator," but said that he "wouldn't mind having someone who is a little more conservative."

"I would proudly support Mike Johnson in the race for conference chair if he decides to run," Cawthorn said. "He is a powerful conservative mind who is a happy warrior and the leader we need."

Rep. Bob Good of Virginia described Johnson as "a very capable, competent, conservative vice chair," according to the Examiner. 

"Let's let him assume the chair, at least temporarily. I think he'd be an outstanding candidate more long-term," he told the outlet following the vote to oust Cheney. "There's no reason to rush into this to fill the position, especially with someone who doesn't reflect the conservative majority views of the conference."