Elise Stefanik Says She 'Absolutely' Has Votes to Replace Ousted Liz Cheney

U.S. Representative Elise Stefanik's election to become the No. 3 Republican in the House appears locked in—despite some colleagues' questions about whether she's conservative enough for the high-profile leadership post.

Stefanik told reporters at the Capitol on Wednesday that she "absolutely" has the votes needed to replace ousted GOP Conference Chair Liz Cheney.

"We have a great support conference-wide—members from the Freedom Caucus to [Republican Study Committee] to Tuesday Group," she said, referencing three of the House GOP's most influential caucus groups that range from ultra-conservative to moderate.

Perhaps more importantly, Stefanik has shored up endorsements from former President Donald Trump, House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy, and House GOP Whip Steve Scalise—the most influential Republicans to the chamber's members.

The vote is expected to come up on Friday, after a meeting with the conference Thursday.

No one has formally entered the race against Stefanik, a New York Democrat whose profile has risen in recent years with her staunch defense of the former president through two impeachment trials.

U.S. Representative Ken Buck, a Colorado Republican who is a member of the conservative Freedom Caucus, told reporters that he sees Stefanik as a "liberal," but her election is likely inevitable because bucking the party leadership could lead to consequences.

"You have President Trump's support, you have Kevin McCarthy's support, you have Steve Scalise's support," he said. "I don't think there will be anybody that wants to risk a future chairmanship or a future role in the party to take on Elise Stefanik, which I think is terribly unfair and unfortunate."

Liz Cheney—a Wyoming Republican who has been in the House since 2017, and whose father is former Vice President Dick Cheney—was ousted from her leadership post on an unrecorded voice vote Wednesday morning amid an ongoing feud with Trump after she voted to impeach him in January.

Even before Liz Cheney was voted out, Trump, Scalise and McCarthy had identified Stefanik, has been in the U.S. House since 2015, as their pick to replace her.

Others could still enter the race, including U.S. Representative Chip Roy, a Texas Republican who has publicly blasted Stefanik in a letter to House Republicans this week for not being conservative enough in his view.

Some conservative firebrands, including the controversial Georgia Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, have asked that the process at least be slowed on Cheney's replacement.

"There should be choices not predetermination," she tweeted Wednesday.

U.S. Representative Mike Johnson, a Louisiana Republican who is vice chair of the House Republican Conference, also expressed hesitation about rushing a vote.

"I think a deliberative effort would serve the conference well and in all involved," he told reporters. "I don't think we should rush such an important decision."

Elise Stefanik climbs House GOP ladder
U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) speaks to members of the media as Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-TX), Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA), Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA), Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-AZ), Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC), and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) listen prior to the Senate impeachment trial against then-President Donald Trump at the U.S. Capitol January 27, 2020 in Washington, DC. Alex Wong/Getty Images