Thursday, June 6th, 2024


WASHINGTON, DC —  In case you missed it, the National Journal covered House Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik’s historic effort to support and elect Republican women through E-PAC.

In 2019, only 13 Republican women served in the House of Representatives, and as of December 2023, with the swearing-in of Congresswoman Celeste Maloy, there are now a historic 36!

In 2022, E-PAC-endorsed candidates flipped critical House Republican majority-making seats, including Jen Kiggans in VA-02, Lori Chavez De Remer in OR-05, Anna Paulina Luna in FL-09, and Monica De La Cruz in TX-15.

Read the full story in the National Journal here or below:


Elise Stefanik outlines the evolution of E-PAC

Published June 5, 2024, 6:18 p.m. ET

By James A. Downs

House Republican Conference Chairwoman Elise Stefanik’s PAC, once an insurgent organization dedicated to electing conservative women and bucking party leadership, has transformed into a de facto leadership campaign arm as the New York Republican climbs the ranks.

“We’re working as one team with the NRCC and our colleagues in leadership,” Stefanik told National Journal in an interview. “We think that’s a strength, because they know that E-PAC has been an incredibly strong pillar and driver of building this majority.”

The 2018 midterms decimated the House majority for Republicans, as voters around the country delivered a scathing referendum on Donald Trump’s first two years in office. Democrats flipped 41 seats, elevating Rep. Nancy Pelosi, the first female speaker, back to the top perch of the House. In that same election, 107 women won election or reelection to the House. Almost all of them were Democrats.

Facing this disparity, Stefanik, at the time recruitment chair for the National Republican Congressional Committee and one of 13 GOP women in the House, decided she needed to spearhead the movement to elect more conservative women—with or without leadership’s permission. She formed E-PAC in 2018 to give Republican women the resources they needed to win competitive GOP primaries.

The creation of E-PAC came several months before her lead role as Trump’s chief congressional defender in his first impeachment, which boosted her national profile and, she says, allowed her to grow a robust digital-fundraising list to get hard dollars into the hands of her candidates.

Those two events allowed Stefanik to support female candidates in the 2020 elections—a historic cycle for Republicans as several women flipped Democratic-held seats. A record number of women ran for office in 2020, and even more importantly, a record number won their party’s nomination this cycle, according to the Center for American Women and Politics.

Since 2018, Stefanik said E-PAC has ferried more than 10 million small-dollar donations into candidate coffers, helping to give candidates the resources they need to compete in swing districts. E-PAC’s support helped elect the likes of Rep. Ashley Hinson of Iowa and Reps. Michelle Steel and Young Kim of California. Eleven of the 15 districts that Republicans flipped that cycle were won by women—all of them with E-PAC’s support.

But Stefanik and GOP leadership did not always see eye to eye on how to expand representation of women in the Republican Party. In 2018, then-newly elected NRCC Chairman Tom Emmer criticized Stefanik for her plans to get involved in contested primaries in the upcoming cycle.

“I wasn’t asking permission,” Stefanik fired back on social media when Emmer said it would be “a mistake” to play in GOP primaries. By the time voting concluded in the 2020 cycle, the House GOP had doubled the amount of women in the conference, in large part due to Stefanik’s work.

The insurgency continued into the 2022 cycle. E-PAC endorsed Karoline Leavitt in a competitive New Hampshire race, while then-Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy opted for Matt Mowers in the GOP primary. Leavitt prevailed in the primary but later lost to Democrat Chris Pappas. Leavitt is now the national press secretary for the Trump campaign.

Stefanik’s rise to conference chair came at the expense of another conservative woman, former Rep. Liz Cheney, whom Republicans ousted as chair after she refused to temper her criticisms of Trump. Stefanik’s own critics say that the Bush administration alum sold out her principles for Trump.

For all the disruption Stefanik’s early E-PAC days caused, she insisted her efforts have brought the conference together.

“We know that this needs to be a unified ticket,” she said of the 2024 campaign. “I’ve done that as conference chair … defeating Liz Cheney and returning to communicating about the issues that matter to the American people.”

E-PAC’s first slate of endorsements for the 2024 cycle aligned with top NRCC recruits. The endorsements, which National Journal first reported, included Alaska Lt. Gov. Nancy Dahlstrom, former Rep. Mayra Flores of Texas, and Army veteran Laurie Buckhout in North Carolina. The endorsees will have access to Stefanik’s massive digital-fundraising list, as well as high-dollar D.C. fundraisers.

Stefanik said her fundraising was at the “top in terms of the elected officials on the purely digital side.” Her fundraising, especially among the megadonor class, took a step forward after a contentious committee hearing last fall when she grilled university presidents over antisemitism on college campuses.

Stefanik’s ascendancy, combined with E-PAC’s transformation to support leadership interests, comes amid speculation the chairwoman could be a vice presidential pick for Trump. Stefanik has used her massive fundraising apparatus to raise millions for Trump’s campaign.

She said she’s “honored to be in the mix” but is focused on “working tirelessly, like so many others, to make sure … Trump wins, that we flip the Senate, and gain seats in the House.”

The Republican campaign arm lauded Stefanik as an “incredible partner,” just two cycles removed from Emmer’s harsh rebuke. The party will need her fundraising ability as it looks to expand its fraught majority come November.

“The NRCC is grateful for her commitment and leadership,” NRCC national press secretary Will Reinert told National Journal in a statement.

But Stefanik’s commitment to expanding the number of Republican women in the House means she can maintain some of the maverick qualities that contributed to her ascension in the first place.

“One of the things I’m most proud of is [that] E-PAC is often the first endorsement of these key races,” she said. One such example is Caroleene Dobson, an Alabama attorney who has the tall task of winning a Democratic-leaning open seat after the Supreme Court found the previous map violated the Voting Rights Act.

The NRCC has not signaled it intends to invest in the race, nor did Speaker Mike Johnson weigh in, but E-PAC lent its support after Dobson clinched the nomination.

“That’s a sleeper race you guys aren’t paying attention to,” Stefanik said.

“She’s going to win that race.”