Aides close to the race also told CNN that Stefanik’s quick rise was a emblematic of the congresswoman’s own ambitions.
“She just outhustled everyone,” one senior GOP aide told CNN.
Amid Trump’s false claims over voter fraud, Stefanik supported an objection during the Electoral College vote count to affirm President Joe Biden’s win. She also signed on in support of an amicus brief backing a lawsuit from Texas to the Supreme Court that sought to overturn the results of the election in several states.
Trump stood by Stefanik in her run for the leadership post and weighed in on Roy’s late entry into the race Thursday evening with a statement slamming the congressman and reiterating his support for the congresswoman.
“Can’t imagine Republican House Members would go with Chip Roy — he has not done a great job, and will probably be successfully primaried in his own district. I support Elise, by far, over Chip!” he said.
Stefanik has made a pitch to House Republicans that she will help deliver on a message of unity and united opposition to Democrats in Congress and in the White House as the party works to win back the House majority in 2022.
McCarthy congratulated Stefanik on her election at a news conference after the vote, before pivoting to criticism of Democrats.
“I want to congratulate Elise Stefanik and welcome her to the leadership team,” he said, adding that Republicans had “a healthy debate and a good election.”
Stefanik did face pushback from some conservative House Republicans in her bid for leadership.
The congresswoman represents a district that pivoted in the past from voting for former President Barack Obama to Trump and she has long been known on Capitol Hill as a more moderate Republican. And while the congresswoman has made a name for herself as an ardent Trump supporter in recent years, that wasn’t always the case.
When House Democrats moved to impeach Trump for the first time in 2019, however, Stefanik emerged as one of the President’s most outspoken defenders, taking on Democrats and earning Trump’s praise as “a new Republican star.”
Stefanik said Wednesday afternoon she “absolutely” has enough votes to secure her election to the position, even if someone else decides to jump in the race. Roy publicly announced his intention to run Thursday.
The House Freedom Caucus, a group of Trump-aligned far-right Republicans held a forum with Stefanik on Wednesday evening, which the New York congresswoman called “a great conversation” after it concluded.
“My message was I’m focused on unifying the conference and beating Democrats and we have an opportunity to do that, that is historic in beating the most radical socialist agenda in this country,” Stefanik said after the meeting. She did not answer when asked if she had won over the support of the caucus.
Stefanik also met this week with the conservative Republican Study Committee in her efforts to win over the conference. That group is led by Jim Banks, an Indiana Republican who was seen early on as a potential contender in the race, but never entered.
Stefanik has signaled to some colleagues that she plans to stay in leadership and as chair of the House GOP Conference only through 2022, wanting to pursue the top GOP job on the House Education and Labor Committee next Congress, according to a source with direct knowledge of the talks, an assurance that could help assuage concerns from any lawmakers reluctant to support her.
This story and headline have updated with additional developments Friday.
CNN’s Lauren Fox, Annie Grayer, Manu Raju, Alex Rogers and Andrew Kaczynski contributed to this report.