Elise Stefanik seeks another term as House GOP conference chairwoman with backing of Republican leadership

Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York, who replaced Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney in Republican leadership, announced Tuesday she plans to seek another term as House GOP Conference chairwoman, and sources tell CNN she has three of the top Republicans in the conference backing her bid.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, House Minority Whip Steve Scalise and National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Tom Emmer are throwing their weight behind Stefanik for conference chairwoman and plan to actively whip members to support her, sources exclusively told CNN on Tuesday.

Stefanik had been weighing a number of options, including running for GOP whip if Republicans recapture the majority, but that is expected to be a crowded race. She initially promised to only serve as conference chair for one term, but has since reversed that position.

“I am proud to have unified the entire Republican Conference around our country in crisis message and shattered fundraising records as House GOP Conference Chair raising over $10M for candidates and committees this cycle,” Stefanik said in her announcement. “With the broad support of NY21 and my House GOP colleagues, I intend to run for Conference Chair in the next Congress.”

Stefanik is now considered a front-runner for the conference chair post, which is in charge of party messaging and member services. Stefanik is a prolific fundraiser and has worked to elect more Republican women, which has earned her chits in the conference.

Freshman Rep. Ashley Hinson of Iowa, who had been interested in running for conference chair if Stefanik didn’t run, is backing Stefanik for the job.

“.@RepStefanik has done an incredible job as our Conference chair and I’m proud to be on her team and support her,” Hinson tweeted Tuesday.

Republicans have acknowledged it’s important to have a woman in GOP leadership, and there are no women running for any of the top three positions, so it gives even more momentum for Stefanik to stay on as conference chairwoman.

However, Stefanik will still have a challenger for conference chair: Freshman Rep. Byron Donalds of Florida, a member of the hardline House Freedom Caucus, officially announced a bid to chair the House Republican Conference earlier Tuesday and has begun asking GOP colleagues for their support, multiple sources tell CNN.

Meanwhile, Emmer, the chairman of the House GOP’s campaign arm, has confirmed through a spokesman that he intends to run for GOP whip if Republicans win the majority this fall. Reps. Jim Banks of Indiana and Drew Ferguson of Georgia are also interested in the No. 3 post.

These next three weeks will be critical for building support for any leadership bids, since it’s the last opportunity to have face-to-face interactions with other members before the midterms. Internal leadership elections will take place sometime after the November elections.

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