Who Is Elise Stefanik, Liz Cheney's Replacement as the No. 3 House Republican

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Andrew Harrer/Getty Elise Stefanik

Rep. Elise Stefanik was elected Friday morning as the new No. 3 Republican in the House of Representatives, after Rep. Liz Cheney's ouster on Wednesday.

Stefanik, 36, defeated a challenge from Texas Rep. Chip Roy, who told colleagues he was more conservative, according to Politico. But Stefanik was her party's pick, with the support of House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.

She has served as a representative for New York's 21st Congressional District since 2015 and was the youngest woman ever elected to Congress at the time of her 2014 win.

Prior to her election, Stefanik — a Harvard University alum who is married to marketing executive Matthew Manda — served as an aide to former President George W. Bush. She also worked on presidential campaigns for former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty and future Utah Sen. Mitt Romney, according to the Associated Press.

More recently, Stefanik has made it a goal to help conservative women run for office, creating the Elevate PAC to increase the number of Republican women candidates in Congress in 2020.

Speaking to PEOPLE that same year, after female Republican candidates flipped seven House seats, narrowing the Democratic majority, Stefanik said: "This is historic. It's the smashing success of the 2020 congressional election cycle. This was a priority of mine and I'm so proud of each and every one of these women."

Stefanik has previously been described as more politically moderate in her party, having supported Ohio Gov. John Kasich's 2016 presidential bid over that of Donald Trump and splitting with Trump on some major issues.

But her district, a rural swath of norther New York, has become increasingly supportive of Trump and she has evolved into a leading defender of the former president — often amplifying his lies that the 2020 election was rigged.

Unlike Roy, Stefanik was among the Republicans to vote to invalidate President Joe Biden's victory in the immediate aftermath of the riots at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

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As the GOP increasingly soured on Cheney for her opposite reaction — voting to impeach Trump after the riots — they turned to Stefanik.

On Sunday, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said he supported Stefanik in her bid to replace Cheney, a move echoed by both No. 2 House Republican Steve Scalise and former President Trump.

In a letter addressed to her colleagues following Cheney's removal, Stefanik outlined why she wanted to fill the post and what she would do as conference chair of the House Republicans.

"Today I humbly ask to earn your vote for House Republican Conference Chair to unify our message as a team and win the Majority in 2022," Stefanik wrote.

She continued by writing that she had three primary goals as conference chair: to display a "disciplined, unified message" from the party, offer "a communications posture on offense every single day" and "empower all our members to shine."

Still, as the Roy challenge showed, her voting record has drawn some scrutiny from others in her party. As of now, Stefanik has a 48 percent rating from the conservative Heritage Action for America, which is among the lowest grades of her House Republican colleagues.

According to an analysis by FiveThirtyEight, Stefanik voted with Trump 78 percent of the time while he was in office and voted against his 2017 tax cuts (which were widely popular among conservatives), compared to other Republicans like Jim Jordan and even Cheney.

Stefanik has also spoken against Trump's signature border wall proposal, saying in 2017, "I think it's not going to happen that Mexico is going to pay for the wall. I don't think that's realistic ... I don't think a wall is the best model."

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Cheney — a Wyoming representative who is the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney — was voted out of her position as the House of Representatives' No. 3 Republican on Wednesday morning.

Her ouster came following her continued criticisms of Trump's election lies and amid mounting backlash from her colleagues that she would not, in their words, let the issue go.

Speaking with reporters immediately after her ouster as the House of Representatives' No. 3 Republican — which was reportedly done in a closed-door meeting, by voice vote — Cheney did not waver in her efforts to separate her party from the former president.

"We must go forward based on truth, we cannot both embrace the 'big lie' [about the election] and embrace the Constitution," she said, "and, going forward, the nation needs it. The nation needs a strong Republican Party, the nation needs a party that is based upon fundamental principles of conservatism. And I am committed and dedicated to ensuring that that's how this party goes forward and I plan to lead the fight to do that."

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