Cheney, the current House GOP conference chairwoman, has the third-highest leadership position among House Republicans. But since January, she’s repeatedly criticized former President Donald Trump and his false claims of a stolen November victory. The ensuing fight over the party’s future — and its loyalty to the former president — has tilted support away from Cheney.
The election, to be conducted via secret ballot, is expected to come as soon as Wednesday, May 12. New York Rep. Elise Stefanik, a Trump loyalist with the support of top House GOP leaders, is widely expected to win the conference chair position.
It’s also the second time that Cheney, of Wyoming, will have faced a leadership challenge, after fending off a previous challenge in February. But since then, she’s continued to be an outspoken critic of the former president, and her support within the caucus has deteriorated.
Armstrong, R-N.D., said he respects Cheney’s work — notably on oil and gas issues — but ultimately, believes she has become a distraction.
“In 18 months, when I’m running for re-election in North Dakota, if I’m running about whether or not Liz Cheney is my conference chair, I’m not doing my job very well,” Armstrong said. “The flip side of that is, if you are the conference chair, and every single member of your conference has to go home to their local media and answer a question about who your conference chair is, you’re doing it wrong, too.”
Prior to casting his vote, Armstrong said he expected to support Stefanik for the position.
“Nobody has ever asked Liz Cheney to wake up every morning and pledge allegiance to Donald Trump. I know that's not how the national media is playing this,” Armstrong said. But he said he’s concerned about Cheney’s comments costing the party the chance to win important victories in the next election cycle.
“I really respect her, and she has absolutely every right to have this opinion. In fact, she’s not the only one in our conference that does,” Armstrong said. “What she can't do is be the conference chair when she is not willing, on these types of issues, to go where the conference wants to be.”
The Grand Forks Herald reached out to three other House Republicans from the region, seeking to learn how they planned to vote. None of the three — Rep. Dusty Johnson, R-S.D.; Rep. Michelle Fischbach, R-Minn.; and Rep. Pete Stauber, R-Minn. — had responded late Tuesday morning.
Cheney’s potential ouster is backed by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who in a letter to colleagues said that “it’s clear that we need to make a change.”
“Each day spent relitigating the past is one day less we have to seize the future,” McCarthy wrote. “This is no time to take our eye off the ball. If we are to succeed in stopping the radical Democrat agenda from destroying our country, these internal conflicts need to be resolved so as to not detract from the efforts of our collective team.”