Elise Stefanik has been elected as the new chair of the House Republican conference in a secret ballot of party members.
Ms Stefanik is now the party’s number three in the House of Representatives, replacing Liz Cheney of Wyoming who was removed from the post earlier this week for her lack of fealty to Donald Trump.
The vote was 134 in favour of the Trump-backed New York representative, with Texas congressman Chip Roy getting 46 votes.
There were several other write-in candidates including Ohio’s Jim Jordan, Virginia Foxx of North Carolina, and Cathy McMorris of Washington. Nine ballots were cast as “present”.
In a statement released moments after her victory, Ms Stefanik said: “House Republicans are united in our focus to fight on behalf of the American people to save our country from the radical Socialist Democrat agenda of President Biden and Nancy Pelosi.”
Speaking to the press after her ballot victory, she said: “I want to thank President Trump for his support, he is a critical part of our Republican team.”
She further added: “I believe that voters determine the leader of the Republican Party, and president Trump is the leader that they look to. I support president Trump, voters support president Trump. He is an important voice in our Republican Party and we look forward to working with him.”
In a statement on his blog, the former president said: “Congratulations to Elise Stefanik for her Big and Overwhelming victory! The House GOP is united and the Make America Great Again movement is Strong!”
Ms Cheney was ousted from her post as conference chair for her insistence on telling the truth about the 2020 election and not indulging the former president’s conspiracy theories that the presidency was stolen from him.
This placed the conservative Republican in a minority in the party. Party leaders argue she was distracted from opposing the Biden administration’s policies and no longer represented the mood of members.
House leader Kevin McCarthy welcomed Ms Stefanik’s victory: “I want to congratulate Elise Stefanik and welcome her to the leadership team. I want to thank Chip Roy as well. We had a healthy debate and a good election. We’ve got a lot of work to do in this leadership team, in this Conference.”
Indeed party leadership is keen to put the ousting of Ms Cheney behind them and focus on projecting a unified front in opposition to the Biden administration in the hope of winning back the House in 2022.
Ms Stefanik was once known as a more moderate figure in the party and had to reassure more hardline colleagues that she would not stand in their way on key votes.
Ironically, she is considered much less conservative than both her predecessor and Mr Roy who stood in opposition to her.
Loyalty to the former president apparently now means more to the party than traditional conservative principles.