“The fix is in,” said a Republican lawmaker who spoke with Stefanik on Tuesday.
So far, no GOP challenger to Stefanik has emerged – and at least two potential candidates have indicated that they will not come up with offers, increasing the likelihood that Stefanik will take the influential position. And members of the House GOP leadership quietly support Stefanik’s rise to the post, the sources said, a rapid development of events amid Cheney’s bitter feud with Trump, which has left her growing. more isolated to the House GOP conference.
Stefanik worked the phones all day Tuesday and asked Republican Rep. Guy Reschenthaler of Pennsylvania to make calls on his behalf, multiple sources said. A vote on the future and replacement of Cheney is expected as early as May 12.
“The ground is clear for her right now,” said another GOP source from Home who asked to speak anonymously to discuss sensitive internal politics.
Cheney spoke of the “big lie” and warned Republicans of the dangers to American democracy if they echo Trump’s claim that President Joe Biden was not legitimately elected. But his public feud with the former president has his GOP critics accusing him of mounting a personal crusade that distracted from their goal of retaking a majority in Congress next year.
Several sources tell CNN that while awareness and discussions are still in their early stages, it is recognized that Stefanik would be a natural candidate for the job as someone who is both close to the GOP leader of the House, Kevin McCarthy and has done considerable fundraising on behalf of fellow party members, especially female candidates.
Stefanik’s rapid rise behind the scenes was bolstered, according to Republican sources, by McCarthy himself, who made it clear to members that she would be a perfect fit for the role.
While it is still unclear when a meeting on whether to oust Cheney would take place, laying the groundwork now for his replacement, several GOP aides contend that McCarthy is trying to bring the conference to a place where she is. can quickly come together after a difficult time. a few weeks.
There are several signs that Stefanik is consolidating his support. One is that Indiana Rep Jim Banks, who was seen as a potential candidate for the job, told multiple media outlets, including that he would not mount an offer for the job, choosing to stay at head of the conservative Republican study committee.
“I’m focusing on the chairman of RSC,” Banks said. “I could run for something else next term but I don’t want to give up on that yet. “
Representative Ashley Hinson of Iowa, one of the Republican women who was cast by her colleagues as a potential replacement for Cheney, is also not interested in the job, a source close to her told CNN. “She’s just focusing on servicing the IA-01 and locking her own seat. She has no interest in taking a leadership position at this time, ”the source told CNN.
Indiana Rep. Jackie Walorski, who is also seen as a potential candidate for the job, has yet to say what she will do, and her office has not responded to a CNN inquiry.
Representative Mike Johnson, a conservative from Louisiana, was also reportedly a potential candidate. But so far, there is no indication that he is actively campaigning for the role, and a spokesperson has not responded to requests for comment on his interest in the role.
“He’s been very calm,” a Republican lawmaker said.
But Republicans recognize the optics of replacing Cheney with a man, and key members of the conference would prefer a woman to appear in third place – especially a woman like Stefanik, who is unlikely to provoke an internal backlash.
Stefanik, according to sources, is clearly the favorite.
“She contacted me and other members today and is working to get votes,” the lawmaker said of Stefanik on Tuesday. “She’s very careful not to say anything negative about Liz, but I mean dating Jim Banks says a lot.” ”
The Republican member also said some members of the leadership “are calling and lending their support to Elise”, insisting that Stefanik is becoming the chosen one to replace Cheney.
Helpers and members told CNN they felt it was important to continue to have a woman in this position given that it is such an open role to the public.
“I wholeheartedly reject identity politics. That said, it is clear that a leadership team is strongest when it has diversity, ”said one lawmaker. “In my office, I would be embarrassed if my top four or five were all one gender or the other. “
For his part, Stefanik has gained great popularity within the conference for his efforts to broaden the reach of the party to include women and female candidates. She is also considered one of the conference’s leaders in low-dollar fundraising, a tool that has become a major stimulus during the Trump years.
A source told CNN that Stefanik’s efforts to help members expand their own reach in this area have not gone unnoticed.
But perhaps the clearest sign that Cheney could be ousted from her post is that even her allies haven’t rallied behind her to push back her increasingly vocal opponents.
A Republican lawmaker who plans to back Cheney when her position comes to a voting conference admitted to CNN, “She doesn’t survive. “
“I haven’t spoken to anyone in the past three days who would stand it up,” the lawmaker said. “Even those who love Liz and agree with her think the current situation is untenable. “
This story was updated with additional reporting on Tuesday.
CNN’s Lauren Fox and Paul LeBlanc contributed to this report.