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Divergent Reaction To Stefanik's Latest Rise

Congresswoman Elise Stefanik leads roundtable discussion at Mold-Rite Plastics
Pat Bradley/WAMC
Congresswoman Elise Stefanik leads roundtable discussion at Mold-Rite Plastics

Former President Donald Trump is backing New York Congresswoman Elise Stefanik to replace Congresswoman Liz Cheney as the Republican Party's third-ranking leader in the House.

In a statement, Trump called Stefanik “a tough and smart communicator” who is “far superior” to Cheney. Trump called Cheney “a warmongering fool.” It comes after Steve Scalise, the House GOP whip, issued a statement backing Stefanik, a prodigious party fundraiser in her fourth term.

Cheney, of Wyoming, has provoked GOP ire for repeatedly trading barbs with Trump, blasting his false claim the 2020 presidential election was stolen.

For her part, Stefanik voted to challenge the Electoral College results certifying President Joe Biden’s victory on January 6, the day of the U.S. Capitol Siege.

New York State Conservative Party Chair Gerard Kassar tells WAMC Wednesday he understands the effort to remove Cheney and supports Stefanik for the role.

"Liz Cheney seems to have a vendetta against President Trump and the Trump family and she seems to be laser-focused only on that, so I could understand how that membership would feel uncomfortable with her," Kassar said on WAMC's Capitol Connection. "Now as far as Elise is concerned, the Conservative Party supported her since the first time she ran and we supported her when she had a Republican primary and we like to feel that we played a role in her first getting elected to Congress."

"I think she's going to make an excellent leader there," Kassar added. "The opening in my view, I think the nation benefits and certainly our state benefits, and our GOP delegation benefits, from having Congresswoman Stefanik as the head of the Republican House conference."

Democratic New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, a frequent Stefanik sparring partner, had a different take at a New York City press conference.

"I think the GOP learned nothing from Donald Trump and learned nothing from their loss," he said. "I think they are still continuing with their hyper-conservative divisive politics and I think that mean-spirited, hyper-conservative mentality is not representative of the United States of America." 

A lifelong resident of the Capital Region, Ian joined WAMC in late 2008 and became news director in 2013. He began working on Morning Edition and has produced The Capitol Connection, Congressional Corner, and several other WAMC programs. Ian can also be heard as the host of the WAMC News Podcast and on The Roundtable and various newscasts. Ian holds a BA in English and journalism and an MA in English, both from the University at Albany, where he has taught journalism since 2013.
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