Texas Rep. Chip Roy is considering launching a bid for House GOP conference chair, according to multiple Republican sources, as conservatives fret that the party is moving too quickly to anoint a successor to newly deposed Liz Cheney.
Roy, a member of the hard-line Freedom Caucus, is one of several conservatives to publicly express concern about elevating Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), a moderate turned Donald Trump ally who’s moving swiftly to lock down support for the No. 3 post. Notably, Stefanik has the backing of the former president and GOP leaders.
Undaunted, Roy sent a memo to every Republican office in the conference on Tuesday arguing that Stefanik should not be serving in leadership and ticking off a long list of issues with her voting record. He also had been pushing for a delay in the election to replace Cheney (R-Wyo.), which will take place later this week.
“I don’t believe there should be a coronation,” Roy told reporters on Wednesday. “I believe that if the leader wants us to be united, then he should take the time to do this the right way.”
Roy declined to say whether he was considering an official bid for the position, saying “let’s see what happens over the next 24 hours.” But his spokesperson said in a statement that they’re not “ruling anything out.”
“His focus is on serving Texas’ 21st Congressional district, the American people, and the Constitution,” Roy’s spokesperson said in a statement. “But if the position must be filled, then this must be a contested race — not a coronation.”
One source familiar with Roy’s thinking said he plans to jump into the race if no one else does. His potential candidacy for conference chair was first reported by The Daily Caller.
But the Texan, a onetime chief of staff to Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), doesn’t have much time to make a decision. After House Republicans voted swiftly Wednesday to oust Cheney, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy announced that a candidate forum for her replacement will take place Thursday evening and the election will be held Friday morning.
Plus, Stefanik is miles ahead with her whipping operation and her camp is feeling confident that they have all but locked down enough support to win the post. Even Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), a prominent member of the Freedom Caucus, is backing Stefanik for the job.
To help ease some members’ concerns, Stefanik has been assuring members she would not buck leadership on big votes and doesn’t plan to stay in the role beyond 2022. She is slated to address the Freedom Caucus on Wednesday evening at the Conservative Policy Institute.
Even so, Stefanik is starting to take heat from all sides. When she addressed the moderate Tuesday Group, the New Yorker was pressed about whether Biden won the 2020 election, according to a source on the Zoom call. Stefanik responded by saying Biden is president, but said there are voter irregularities that need to be addressed.
And some Stefanik backers are questioning Roy’s record on a key benchmark for House GOP leaders: Trumpism. One Republican source noted Roy did not heed the then-president’s call for Republicans to vote against the certification of the election results from any state, nor did he sign on to a Texas brief in a lawsuit to overturn the election.
Still, should he throw his hat into the ring, Roy — a trouble-making and Constitution-obsessed former federal prosecutor — could prove to be an appealing alternative for angst-ridden conservatives who want to register their opposition to Stefanik. Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) told reporters that "I’m always for having multiple choices."
Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) admitted that Stefanik is likely to become the next Republican conference chair, even if he isn’t thrilled about it.
“I think she’s liberal,” Buck told reporters. “I will not vote for Elise Stefanik.”
Olivia Beavers contributed to this report.