There’s a shakeup going on inside the Republican Caucus of the House of Representatives. Days after the midterm elections, when the Democratic Party took back – at least until all recounts and provisional canvasses are completed – 30 seats in the House, Congresswoman Liz Cheney (WY-at large) is now seeking a role in the now-minority party’s leadership as the current conference head, Congresswoman Cathy McMorris-Rodgers (WA-5), as decided not to run for a fourth term at the post.
Although the decision came Thursday from McMorris-Rodgers to vacate her leadership post, Cheney launched her bid the day prior to challenge the Washington state Republican in an age when the party has a message that is failing to resonate with a majority of voter in the country.
“We need to be able to drive our message across all platforms,” she said in a report from Roll Call. “We need to own the daily news cycles. We need to lead and win the messaging wars. Too often we have found ourselves playing catch up without access to useful information, and we have not been on offense. Constantly playing defense in the battle of communications is a recipe for failure.”
Cheney crisscrossed the nation ahead of Election Day, sometimes appearing with House Majority Whip Congressman Steve Scalise (LA-1), in effort to bolster fundraising numbers and GOTV activities in at least eight congressional races in districts where Republicans were vulnerable.
Regarded as one of the most influential women in the GOP, Cheney warned her colleagues this week in a letter outlining her candidacy for conference chair that the new Democratic majority is set to launch a series of investigation into President Donald Trump, newly confirmed Supreme Court Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh, and others within the Trump Administration. She added that Republicans must tighten their messaging in order to fight back after losing the majority on Election Day.
“Every member of our conference must be armed and ready to go on offense. We must also have an effective rapid response operation — deploying immediate rebuttals and prebuttals to the Democrats’ false claims,” she said in a report from The Hill.
As for what Cheney will bring to the leadership post, she explained, “For us to prevail in this new environment, we must fundamentally overhaul and modernize our House GOP communications operation.”
Seen as a move of bolting down the previous Republican agenda and becoming more aggressive with their Democratic counterparts, it plays off of what Trump said at an appearance in Indiana hours before Tuesday’s elections. President Trump told a massive crowd of supporters that he “eventually” wants to unite the country, but that his actions and tone are leaving Democrats “in a craze” which plays to opposition politics many Republicans campaigned on.
Regardless, when it comes to messaging, Cheney has been know for her hawkish, fiery rhetoric regarding U.S. foreign policy, especially in the Middle East pertaining to post-Iraq War strategy. In 2014, her and her father, former Vice President Dick Cheney, penned a op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, charging that then-President Barack Obama was “blithely unaware, or indifferent to the fact, that a resurgent al Qaeda presents a clear and present danger to the United States of America,” adding that “radical Islamic terror groups” were taking “control of more territory and resources than ever before in history.”
Presumably, similar candor will come if Cheney succeeds McMorris-Rodgers at the helm of House GOP communications.
In the decision for the leadership role of conference chair, a closed-door election will be held on November 14, with only a simple majority securing the seat.
Republicans will also have another race coming next Tuesday as former Chairman of the House Freedom Caucus Congressman Jim Jordan (OH-4) is taking on current Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (CA-23) for the job of minority leader in the 116th Congress.