National GOP chair criticizes Stefanik push to back women candidates in primaries

Candidate Elise Stefanik (R) speaks at a debate held by Spectrum News at its studio in Albany in October 2018. (Photo — Jenn March, Special to the Post-Star)

The head of the National Republican Campaign Committee criticized U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik for her comments about using her position to back female candidates in primaries.

Stefanik recruited more than 100 women as the first female head of recruitment at the NRCC. However, only one of those candidates prevailed, and many of them did not get through the primary process, according to an article in Roll Call.

Stefanik was quoted by Roll Call as saying she is stepping back from the NRCC in order to “play big in primaries.”

The incoming NRCC chairman, Minnesota U.S. Rep. Tom Emmer, said that traditionally the national Republicans do not take sides in a primary.

“If that’s what Elise wants to do, then that’s her call, her right. But I think that’s a mistake,” Emmer said in an interview with Roll Call.

The article pointed out that there are only 13 women among the House GOP contingent, which is down from 23 in the current Congress.

The New York Times also had a story featuring private comments Stefanik made at a post-mortem election meeting, first reported by The Washington Post, saying that the party needed to do more to recruit women candidates and reform its image. She said there has been “close to no introspection in the GOP conference and really no coming to grips with the shifting demographics that get to why we lost those seats.”

The article quotes other lawmakers saying that President Donald Trump has turned off women, particularly suburban women, and that played a part in the GOP defeat, in addition to the party’s hard-line stances on immigration and health care.