Who is Kevin McCarthy, the guy who replaced Eric Cantor as majority leader of the House of Representatives? The 49-year-old Republican from California, who was elected today, will occupy far more of the political spotlight than previously, in this midterm election year and in the lead-up to 2016.
McCarthy, currently serving his fourth term in Congress, is “a Californian of moderate temperament who is likely to be more of a preserver of the status quo… than the conservative firebrand many from the party’s right flank had hoped to promote,” The New York Times reported this afternoon.
He steps into the leadership role occupied by Cantor, who in a dramatic upset lost his seat last week in the GOP primary in Virginia to Tea Party loyalist David Brat, an economics professor. Brat spent just over $200,000 to score the upset.
Close friends with Cantor, McCarthy is said to have a “deep network of supporters and deputy whips,” according to The Washington Post, which also refers to him as “a strong fundraiser with a tireless work ethic.”
“When you finally sit down across the table and deal with Democrats, it's a political deal, not a policy debate or discussion that one side persuades the other," Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK) told The Wall Street Journal. "It's who can put together a compromise. Kevin is very, very good at those sorts of things."
Here are a few other insights into McCarthy:
- He’s the first Republican in his immediate family and a fourth-generation resident of Kern County, in the southern end of California’s Central Valley.
- He won $5,000 in a scratch-off lottery in California as a teenager.
- Using that money, he opened his first business, Kevin O’s Deli, and ended up selling it to attend California State University in Bakersfield.
- He earned a B.S. degree in marketing in 1989 and an MBA in 1994.
- He and his wife, Judy, have two children, Connor and Meghan, and live in Bakersfield.
- As a freshman congressman, he was appointed to the GOP Steering Committee, and in 2008, John Boehner appointed him chair of the GOP Platform Committee, which produced the Republican Party’s platform for 2008.
- He was one of three founding members of the GOP's so-called Young Guns (along with Eric Cantor and Paul Ryan), created to chart the GOP's future.
- He served as the GOP’s House chief deputy whip from Jan. 2009 to Jan. 2011.
- He served as House majority whip from Jan. 2011 to June 2014.
- He ranks “in the lowest fifth among House members in terms of wealth, according to his financial disclosure statements and an analysis by the Center for Responsive Politics,” AP reported late last week. “His 2012 disclosure showed his net worth between $78,000 and $296,000, with his $174,000 congressional salary supplemented from dividends from a variety of mutual and money market funds.”
Sources: The New York Times, The Washington Post, AP, Wikipedia, The Wall Street Journal.
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