Former President Donald Trump encouraged New York Republican Elise Stefanik’s decision to seek another term as chairwoman of the House Republican Conference, she told Fox News Digital on Thursday.
Stefanik said her strong relationship with the former president would benefit House Republicans over the next two years, especially as Trump gears up for what many expect will be his third White House bid in 2024.
“I talk to him multiple times per week, he couldn’t be prouder of the job we’re doing as House Republican Conference chair,” said Stefanik. “He was very encouraging that I decided to stay in this role and work to earn the support of my colleagues.”
Stefanik declined to say whether Trump would endorse her campaign for the position and said that decision is up to the former president.
Stefanik has emerged as the front-runner for another term atop the House GOP conference. First elected to the role last May after the ouster of Trump-foe Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, Stefanik has earned high-marks in recent months for her fundraising and messaging operation.
She has raised more than $10 million for GOP incumbents this cycle, and more than $3 million has gone directly to the National Republican Congressional Committee. Another $2 million has gone to boosting female candidates through Stefanik’s Elevate PAC, political action committee.
Stefanik said she has often been the first member of leadership to back a candidate and often “the first to donate in support of them.” Allies say those efforts have built a broad base of support for her candidacy among incumbents and GOP candidates likely to win their races this November.
“Elise Stefanik has done an incredible job as our conference chair and I’m proud to be on her team and support her,” said Rep. Ashley Hinson, an Iowa Republican who ousted a sitting Democrat in 2020 thanks to support from Stefanik.
Hinson was one of 15 Republicans to flip a seat that Democrats held in 2020. Of those 15 Republicans, 11 were female candidates backed by Stefanik’s PAC.
Apart from fundraising, backers say Stefanik has revamped the conference’s messaging infrastructure — one of the few official duties of the position. They say she has developed a rapid response team within the conference and helped launch initiatives to court Hispanic voters via outreach to Spanish-speaking media outlets.
“I was proud to be the architect of our crisis messaging,” said Stefanik. “You see that one in basically every news outlet, [on] every front page in America whether it’s the border crisis, the inflation crisis, the crime crisis or the constitutional crisis.”
GOP leadership is also happy with Stefanik’s tenure. Top Republicans, from Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy to NRCC Chairman Tom Emmer, are backing her bid for another term.
“I don’t think it’ll be a race,” said McCarthy, R-Calif. “Elise has done an excellent job and will continue to be conference chair.”
A source working on Stefanik’s whip operation said she has locked down the support of nearly two-thirds of House Republicans.
“It took Stefanik less than one hour to lock down the votes of the entire leadership team and two-thirds of the entire conference,” said the source. “And she hasn’t even hit the floor yet.”
Still, Stefanik is not going unchallenged. Rep. Byron Donalds, a Florida Republican who has been weighing run for months, jumped into the race earlier this week.
Donalds told Fox News Digital that he was undaunted by the support Stefanik was receiving from GOP leadership.
“One of the reasons why I entered the race for House GOP conference chair is because of the many members who think I’d be a great fit for the role. While I’m humbled by this early support, I’m aware there’s still work to be done,” he said. “Leadership is earned, and I look forward to continuing to prove why I’m the best candidate.”
Donalds’ supporters note that Stefanik initially was mum on seeking a second term when running for the post last May, which helped build some support for Donalds.
“She’s done a decent job, but she left everyone thinking she wasn’t running,” said Rep. Bob Good, R-Va. “Byron is a good messenger and I’m proud to be backing him.”