Boehner Departure Could Put 2nd Californian In Top House Spot

Kevin McCarthy, the prematurely gray, 50-year-old former “young gun” Republican from Bakersfield, is heir apparent to become speaker of the House of Representatives with the surprise resignation of embattled Speaker John Boehner of Ohio on Friday.

With Democratic leader and former Speaker Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco showing no sign that she intends to retire anytime soon, the powerful but deeply divided California congressional delegation would have the top two jobs in the “people’s chamber” of Congress should McCarthy win election by his colleagues.

The leadership election is yet to be announced, but presumably will take place before Boehner leaves office in a month. Vicious internal power struggles are expected to roil the leadership even if McCarthy wins the top slot. 

A small-business moderate early in his career, McCarthy has moved right with the national GOP since he entered the House in 2007 on issues such as immigration, but never has been closely allied with the party’s fire-breathing conservative wing.

His rise is due in part to his success in recruiting House candidates and raising money. That could potentially earn him loyalty from members who thought nothing of bucking Boehner.

Even so, McCarthy will face the same “antiestablishment feeling that is going throughout the country, particularly among Republican primary voters, that’s being pushed by Donald Trump’s message,” said GOP strategist Ford O’Connell. “It’s this message going on in Republican circles that everyone in politics is lying to you and is bad at their jobs and Republican leaders are the worst of all because they’re elected to represent your views.”

Read more from Carolyn Lochhead at The San Francisco Chronicle

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