Cheney isn't fighting McCarthy push to replace her in leadership

Source: Politico | May 5, 2021 | Olivia Beavers and Melanie Zanona

The No. 3 House Republican is prepared to choose her beliefs about the influence of Trump.

Liz Cheney is not fighting to hold onto her job as House GOP conference chair, even as top Republican leaders openly campaign to replace her in the No. 3 spot.

To the frustration of many fellow Republicans, Cheney has continued to clearly state her positions on Donald Trump’s baseless claims that the 2020 election was fraudulent and on the Jan. 6 vote to certify Trump’s loss. And Cheney has been telling people that if holding onto her leadership role requires having to lie or stay quiet, she doesn’t believe that’s a price worth paying, according to a source familiar with her thinking.

Behind the scenes, Cheney has not been making calls or engaging in the type of campaigning that’s ordinarily necessary in politics to build a coalition of support ahead of a vote that will determine her future in leadership, multiple GOP sources said.

It’s a remarkable turn of events for Cheney, a conservative scion once viewed as a rising force within the GOP and even floated as a possible future speaker. Her current lack of action is also a 180-degree turn from just a few months ago, when Cheney was actively whipping to keep her leadership post — a job once held by her father, former Vice President Dick Cheney — amid an effort by ultra-conservatives to oust her. Cheney ended up cruising to victory in February in a 145-61 secret ballot vote.

Now it appears all but certain that Cheney will be booted from leadership, raising serious questions about her political future. Cheney, who passed on a Senate bid last year to seek her fortunes in the House, hasn’t ruled out a presidential run and just posted a record-breaking fundraising quarter. But she’s also facing a tough primary race next year in Wyoming, with pro-Trump challengers already lining up to take her out.

But Cheney appears completely comfortable with the idea that she may be toppled for sticking to her beliefs. Even with her leadership job on the line, Cheney continued to double down this week, sending a clear signal to her colleagues that she won’t go quietly.


And in responding to the news that Scalise is publicly backing Stefanik, Cheney spokesperson Jeremy Adler said the congresswoman will have “more to say in the coming days.”

“This moment is about much more than a House leadership fight,” Adler said.

McCarthy has denied that intra-party frustrations with Cheney were rooted in the Wyoming Republican’s impeachment vote. Instead, Cheney’s GOP critics say they’re frustrated that she hasn’t acted like a team player, doesn’t stay on-message and has created an unwelcome distraction with recent headline-making comments about Trump.

But Cheney’s camp is eager to frame the debate in terms of fealty to Trump. “This is about whether the Republican Party is going to perpetuate lies about the 2020 election and attempt to whitewash what happened on Jan 6,” said Adler. “That is the issue.”

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