Cheney Vote Could Backfire on McCarthy

Reports emerge of brewing backlash against House minority leader
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted May 11, 2021 9:10 AM CDT
Cheney Vote Could Backfire on McCarthy
House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy and Republican Conference Chair Rep. Liz Cheney in 2019.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Liz Cheney does indeed appear to be in her final day in a leadership post among House Republicans. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy sent a letter to rank-and-file members of the GOP on Monday telling them to expect the vote to happen Wednesday, reports Fox News. Coverage:

  • The vote: "Having heard from so many of you in recent days, it's clear that we need to make a change," McCarthy wrote. "As such, you should anticipate a vote on recalling the Conference Chair this Wednesday."
  • Elaborating: Cheney, of course, has urged her party to distance itself from Donald Trump and his allegations of a rigged election, a position that has made her unpopular among many Republicans. "Just as we serve at the will of our constituents, this leadership team should exist to serve you, not the other way around," McCarthy wrote. "Unfortunately, each day spent relitigating the past is one day less we have to seize the future."

  • Backlash? The Politico Playbook says it's beginning to detect a growing backlash against McCarthy behind the scenes. "Some House Republicans are privately griping about how the California Republican has fed a colleague to the MAGA wolves in his quest to become speaker," the post reads. It quotes an anonymous senior GOP aide who says McCarthy has "flip-flopped" on blaming Trump for the Capitol riot and thus hasn't shown the "backbone" that would be required of a House speaker.
  • Possible trap: Elana Schor at Politico writes that McCarthy and others seem to want it both ways: They're backing Trump but calling the 2020 election legitimate. Expect them to be pressed on a key point: "What did Liz Cheney say about Trump’s 2020 defeat that was inaccurate?" writes Schor. "Republicans may have set a trap for themselves by removing Cheney that will force them—contrary to McCarthy’s hopes—to look backward as often as forward during their campaign to retake the House."
  • Familiar phrase: The highest-ranking female GOP senator is flipping the usual "cancel culture" criticism on House Republicans over the pending ouster of Cheney. "I feel it's OK to go ahead and express what you feel is right to express and, you know, cancel culture is cancel culture no matter how you look at it," says Iowa's Joni Ernst, per the Hill. "Unfortunately, I think there are those that are trying to silence others in the party."
  • Cheney critic: In the American Conservative, Andrew Kloster blasts Cheney's "reckless" criticism of Trump and writes that she must have an "endgame" in mind. "She might be waiting for a Biden appointment shortly after the 2022 election," he writes. "Perhaps she is waiting for an MSNBC or CNN 'token conservative' deal. But more likely she and her donors hope to lead a defection movement from the GOP to rebuild the failed fusionist coalition. She could certainly go out in a blaze of glory, leaving the GOP and seeking to caucus with the Dems on foreign policy, but voting with the GOP on sham social issues."
(Rep. Elise Stefanik remains the front-runner to replace Cheney.)

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