Kevin McCarthy: California’s top Republican
Political Consultant Jason Cabel Roe and Kevin McCarthy go back to their days as young Republicans or YRs. Roe says McCarthy’s rise to power was pretty exceptional. The answer to his success is quite simple: he’s been helping fellow Republicans for the last two decades.
“The path to power in leadership, whether in the Republican party or the Democrat party, is helping colleagues and collecting chits of good will.”
And McCarthy has been doing that by campaigning for Republican candidates and raising money for them.
“He is a political machine – always has been. Even going back to the YR days, he was always the guy who was light years ahead of us in terms of understanding what was going on in every district in the state.”
It all started as this one-time deli owner in Bakersfield became a Congressional aide.
“I’ve known Kevin for nearly 20 years, going back to young Republican politics in the mid 90’s. He was state YR chairman while he was district director for former Congressman Bill Thomas.”
McCarthy then moved to the assembly and finally to the House of Representatives as one of the young guns in 2007. Four years later, he held the #3 leadership position in the House. Many people call him a moderate, but his voting record says he’s conservative.
“I think he’s kind of philosophically conservative. I think he just doesn’t have the hard edges that a lot of other conservatives have, and sometimes it gives the perception of being a moderate.”
He embraced both Eric Cantor and Speaker John Boehner, so his elevation to Majority Leader was basically a cake walk.
“Kevin has a broad portfolio of policy experience, but he really is kind of focused on the broader agenda than just kind of narrow policy.”
The Tea Party conservatives got something too: Steve Scalise of Louisiana will take the #3 leadership post. McCarthy still comes home every weekend and often spends time in other members’ districts.
“I’ll get calls from him just once in a while asking about races I’m involved in. He’s that kind of in-the-weeds guy for what’s going on with the races around the country.”
Networking, raising money for others and campaigning for others is the road to leadership.
“In my experience dealing with these guys over the last 10-15 years, I’ve never seen someone that is in that level of involvement in what’s going on with the people that he works with.”
McCarthy is also an outspoken critic of Governor Brown’s Bullet Train, he battled with Democrats over water policy, and he gives the COP a footing in Silicon Valley.