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Monday, October 24, 2016

Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) became the frontrunner to replace friend and mentor John Boehner (R-OH) as Speaker of the House of Representatives, when the latter announced his retirement from the position, effective Oct. 30. Boehner had a contentious run as Speaker, trying both to placate various factions of the Republican caucus and get the House to function as a government body.

McCarthy, who would be the least experienced of all Speakers save for George Frederick Crisp in 1891, has had a meteoric rise in politics. Starting as an aide to Rep. Bill Thomas, his local congressman, he rose quickly through the Republican ranks in California and then nationally, becoming a state senator in 2002 before entering Congress in 2007. According to the Washington Post, he has never won with less than 70 percent of the vote – even after his district was subsequently altered in 2012. In 2011 he was elected Majority Whip, the third highest position in the House, and then quickly climbed another notch to Majority Leader last year.

While McCarthy clearly has the right connections in Congress, he isn’t quite a household name yet. Here’s a primer on how he got to be the likely successor to Boehner.

1. Winning the lottery changed his life.
At 19, as a student at the University of California, Bakersfield, he bought a lottery ticket and wound up $5,000 richer. After making a little money in the stock market with the winnings, he opened a deli; as a small business owner, he was suddenly thrust into the world of regulations and taxes – and didn’t like any of it. So McCarthy, the son of Democrats, registered as a Republican, became active in Young Republican circles, and got his MBA in marketing.

2. He’s not very committed on issues or ideology.

McCarthy isn’t known for his strong stances – or any stances at all. His ascent was not the result of strongarming legislators to sign or vote for bills he backed, or for his talking points or persuasive speeches — it was mainly due to his fundraising prowess.

So what does he stand for?

Most of his sponsored legislation has focused around agriculture and food. His Bakersfield district is located in the fourth largest agricultural county in the country, and its economic base is largely energy companies and farms. Agribusiness, along with oil and gas firms, are among the top donors to his campaign war chest.

His most important feature as a politician, to judge from his letter to his House colleagues and numerous interviews and statements, is just to be an effective leader and listen to his co-workers and constituents. His “listening sessions” are credited with the voting success of the Ryan budget plan in 2011, and he is known for his dexterity at building consensus – a skill Boehner apparently lacks.

3. He’s a master fundraiser.

He doesn’t seem to have much of a home life. McCarthy spends the bulk of his time either in his Washington office (he sleeps there) or crisscrossing the country trying to raise money. His early-morning gym sessions with fellow “Young Guns” Paul Ryan and Eric Cantor (so named because they were young Republicans out to change the party) aren’t just about “extreme home fitness” – they’re a way to build relationships and strategic allies in the party. According to the Los Angeles Times, he wowed prospective donors with algorithms that could predict weaknesses in the opposition and spotlight little-known potential candidates in faraway districts.

He’s a friend to the Tea Party and traditional Republicans alike, although those groups tend to despise each other. He’s not an ideologue, he’s a pragmatist.

As he’s moved up in the world, so has his spending. From cheap rental cars on country roads to private jets, McCarthy spends money to make money, telling a fundraising group that in the month before the 2014 election, he visited 100 districts. He also arranges “destination fundraisers,” mainly attended by corporate lobbyists, which are less about discussing policy than hobnobbing with powerful lawmakers and their families.

4. He thought about running for lieutenant governor of California.

He filed a statement of intent with the state last year, but never filed to appear on the ballot in time for the primary election. He doesn’t believe that anyone should become president unless they’ve served as governor first, telling Chuck Todd on MSNBC’s The Daily Rundown in 2013: “A governor picks a cabinet, has to work with both sides, can’t print money, has to have a balanced budget. The challenge in Washington is the ability to work together.”

5. Kevin Spacey shadowed him to prepare for the role of Frank Underwood in House of Cards.

Minus the murdering psychopathic tendencies of Underwood (which, by all accounts, McCarthy does not possess), the fictional Democratic Majority Whip’s office was modeled after McCarthy’s office. The actor told ABC News that it’s extremely difficult to get 218 members of Congress to fall in line on behalf of any particular agenda.

“I don’t envy him the position. It’s not easy,” Spacey said. “But it was very — for me — fascinating to go to a couple of whip meetings and actually see what the agenda is, what they’re going to put out there, how they do it.”

McCarthy’s philosophy – “I’d tell the members vote your conscience, vote your district, just don’t surprise me, because people come here, they should represent their district, they should represent their philosophies” – should be familiar to House of Cards fans: Frank Underwood repeated that line (albeit menacingly) in the show’s first season.

McCarthy only agreed to speak to Spacey after hearing that the character was a Democrat, purportedly because he knew that the character would be portrayed as “too Hollywood.” Apparently the party affiliation made a big difference to him.

Photo: House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s people skills have nearly gotten him to Speaker of the House. (REUTERS/Gary Cameron)  

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  • annienoel

    He also has a significant problem with the English language. Apparently like Palin he makes up words….Hillary is “untrustable.” He stated he went on a trip to Hungria? The spell checker goes crazy. He’s not fit to be 3rd in line for the Presidency…but then I don’t see any of the republicans in that line.

    • Phil Johnson

      I wrote the same thing yesterday on this thread and the monitor took it off line. First time ever. Of course, I started it by saying, “Trump for Speaker. I am from California and am embarrassed.” (BTW, apparently “untrustable” is an ersatz but usable word. Check it out).

      But “band of America” and other syntactical idiocies make me shudder. Anybody slaughtering the English language cannot be a Speaker, let alone two heartbeats away from the Presidency.

      aures lupi

      • Dominick Vila

        …and they should not expect new immigrants to speak the language of Shakespeare and Dickens the moment they enter the USA.

    • oldtack

      This character cannot even read text prepared for him by his staff writers. He looked down and “misread” evertthing. Wow ! and He is a Rep from where else? California.

    • Dominick Vila

      Slaughtering the English language is almost a requirement to be a Republican. A cursory look at the record of a recent misunderestimated President may shed some light on this subject. Well, at least that one was good at reading primers and chopping firewood, I wonder what Kevin is good at, besides obstructionism and catering to his rabid constituents.

  • Otto Greif

    He’s a sell-out on immigration.

  • i2grok

    I must agree with Annie, his lack of command of the English language, and his incoherent ramblings lead me to believe he does not have the mental resources required of a President of the United States.

    • Dominick Vila

      I agree, but the post he is seeking is not President. McCarthy is one of several Republicans being considered to replace Speaker Boehner.

      • i2grok

        Dominick, Speaker of the House is third in line of presidential succession. If Obama and Biden were t meet incapacitating ends, the Speaker becomes president.

        • Dominick Vila

          I am aware of that, and I share your concern. I was just clarifying what I thought was a mistake.

  • Eleanore Whitaker

    Look, American voters need to see just what the GOP and all of its shills are really after: a single party government. That’s what Hitler, Mussolini and other dictators wanted too.

    The GOP has already tried for the last 6 years to circumvent the right of the Executive Branch, infiltrated its power in the SC and used their GOP House majority to dictate where all of our tax dollars go…to their Republican states.

    Still think this guy isn’t one of the attack dogs who we are now supposed to FEAR? Between the GOP’s addiction to tyranny and dictatorship, this guy is just one more attack dog the GOP is already implanting in the media as the demi god to be feared.

    BS. Why in hell would any adult with an education fear any man in the GOP? These are not men who fight their own battles. These are not men who believe truth is important.

    These ARE men of the GOP who have overblown Mutton Chops and corn pone egos and live off the hard earned tax dollars the rest of us have to work for.

    • oldtack

      Check the political history of the National Socialists (NAZI) in the German Government from 1919 to 1927. 1927 is when they caused the total financial collapse. We are headed in the same direction with the Tea Party. The True Republican Party is in a fight for it’s existence and being slowly devoured by the pseudo Nazi Party call Tea Party.

      • Eleanore Whitaker

        There are many similiarities to the Nazi and the GOP party as it exists today. Nazi’s were power hungry and thought they would eventually rid the world of gays, control women and children, deny assistance to the mentally ill and physically disabled and as you probably recall, played around with the idea of their most Aryan of women could meet their ideal German man in that Lebensborn Program that gave Nazi men approval to impregnate German women of highest Aryan caliber. Remember, it was Himmler himself who made all the decisions on this program. Not unlike some GOP who are now trying deny women Planned Parenthood under Chaffetz rule to defund it.

        • Louis Allen

          This woman is crazy.
          Oh brother.
          Lenore, get help.

          • Name

            Hey Louie, you need help bro Eleanor is right on and you’re the crazy one!

          • Louis Allen

            Hey Nameless, you need help bro. Eleanore is crazy and a proud alcoholic and so are you.

          • joe schmo

            Name? Stupid ‘name.’ As empty as the person responding. Goes right along with the stupid ideas your master’s enact. We conservatives are not part of the ‘collective.’ You know Louis, some time ago another liberal on this site suggested that Elenora tone it down because it was making a bad example of the Democrats. Do you think this looney listened. He}} no!

      • Louis Allen

        As dumb as a box of thumbtacks, as always.
        Go join E Whitaker’s Looney Tunes Club. You might even take the leadership role from her…..
        Oh brother. These libturds are just plain pathetic.

    • Louis Allen

      Lenora, you are getting worse and worse.
      “American voters need to see just what the GOP and all of its shills are really after: a single party government.” Oh brother. What hallucinations.

      In your alcoholic madness, everything has to do with men against women. Get over it, Lenore!!

      For your own good, stop your imbibing of Appleton Estates. It is worsening your (already BURNT) mind, or what’s left of it.

      Get over it, dear, I AM NOT COMING BACK. EVER.
      P.S. – The Burkes called again. They are so worried about you.
      DO call them, please??

      • joe schmo

        LOL Priceless! Hmmmm, Louis:) I see you love her as much as I do…… I’m a woman. Been married to a man for 30+ years. I would rather work with men than women. What a loonie tune sucker she is…… I think those Mental institutions that Trump wants to implement. Maybe we need to put her on the first list……

        • Louis Allen

          Wow!! Refreshing!!
          You made my day!!

    • joe schmo

      Honey, you couldn’t be any more wrong if you were a liberal man which I must say you come close to. Wimpy and a whiner.

      We all know your communist agenda and we aren’t having it. Donald Trump is getting THOUSANDS of followers both online and in rallies. Maybe you should fear him? At least he is a capitalist, nationalist, and, best of all, conservative.
      He is for the military, against ILLEGAL immigration(bring on that wall), for the veterans, for business, and for the middle class. He is self funding (which he hasn’t had to do much of yet) and does not want a salary if he becomes president. He is not totally against PP. Just the part where they do abortions. He believes the Syrians should stay where they are at and that we should set up safe zones so they can stay there. He WILL deport them. He is not against any ethnic group and, I am positive, he has nothing against gays. He is for the 2nd Amendment, and he wants to re-implement government funded mental institutions. He wants to tax the rich more and that includes the Hedge fund guys. He has a fantastic economic plan, but most of all HE IS FOR AMERICA and Americans.. Can’t say that for your clowns. Since you all love Europe, maybe Europe would be more your speed. LOL, my family in Europe says it’s chaos. Remember that phrase: Love it or leave it!

      After all, Conservatives follow the Constitution.
      Progressive Socialists follow alinsky’s “Rules for Radicals” Blah!

      • Eleanore Whitaker

        Schmomo…You are a real joke. Did you think seniors don’t notice what you middle aged violent anarchist control freaks are up to? You haven’t lived long enough to earn the right to think your sins are forgiven for that capitalist BS you are spouting.

        You are not a conservative, a capitalist or any other “ist” or “ive” What you are is a middle aged waste of humanity who thinks you can take take take and there is never a consequence for your corruption.

        You are a joke. IT’s time punk creeps got the message. You will never FORCE any one, least of all me to your befrigged selfish, sociopathic narcissism.

        As for your money, There was an article in yesterday’s NY Post, an ultra CON media…that is warning of big money problems for crooks like you.

        Why not just do us all a favor and shut your pie hole? You don’t ever have anything to offer that constructive. All your kind of mental freaks want is control. Too bad that’s all in your mentally defective mind.

  • bcarreiro

    The one thing WE should do is end All AFFLIATIONS in Congress. People commenting fight for these fools when the article your reading is meant for it. Another thing McCarthys just lucky.

  • Name

    Just another lobbyist luvin money grabber. He’ll lie like Ryan to get what he wants.

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  • joe schmo

    Well? He has a conservative ‘F’ rating. Conservatives are hoping there is more competition.