McCarthy to be next Speaker?

Rebecca Neipp

News Review Staff Writer

McCarthy to be next Speaker?A stunning revelation last week that Ohio Congressman John Boehner is resigning from office and his position as House Speaker, has cleared a path for potentially the greatest local-boy-makes-good story of our time as Kern County’s own Kevin McCarthy is the odds-on favorite to assume the third-most-powerful position in Ameri-can government.

Last Friday, just one day after helping bring Pope Francis to address Congress from the U.S. Capitol, Boehner shocked his colleagues with his announcement — reportedly giving his second-in-command McCarthy a heads-up only moments before.

On Monday McCarthy an-nounced his bid for the position. He reminded his constituents of his unpretentious beginnings and his life spent with the same people he now represents, and of how growing up in Kern County shaped his faith and his values.

“I am humbled and blessed that these values and the support of our community over the years has given me the opportunity to run for Speaker of the House. There are challenges ahead, but if elected, we have an amazing opportunity to make lasting conservative change for the benefit of our neighbors in the Central Valley, the Indian Wells Valley and the Antelope Valley.

“I know when we work together under the banner of freedom and opportunity, there is little that is out of our reach.”

He also sent a letter to his colleagues in Congress, noting that despite having the largest Repub-lican conference since 1928, division within the party prohibits progress.

“I am running to be your Speaker because I know that the People’s House works best when the leadership you elect listens to members and respects the legislative process entrusted to committees,” he wrote.

“But I am also sensitive to what is happening outside of the Beltway. I want us to be much closer to the people we’re representing, and I want them to once again feel like this is their government, they are in charge, and we are here to serve them.

“I promise you that we will have the courage to lead the fight for our conservative principles and make our case to the American people. But we will also have the wisdom to listen to our constituents and each other so that we will always move forward together.”

McCarthy so far faces opposition from Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana and House Budget Chair Tom Price of Georgia, with whispers that other candidates might also join the race.

While McCarthy’s affability has typically earned him praise from colleagues and critics alike, others now point to that very characteristic as a liability for a position that demands strength.

However, others note that a reprieve from a historically stonewalling leadership could be what helps heal the fractured Republican caucus.

Shortly after McCarthy announced his candidacy for the position, endorsements started pouring in — including those from his local counterparts in the state legislature. State Sen. Jean Fuller, who was recently sworn in as the first woman to serve as Republican Leader in the upper house of the California legislature, called McCarthy a proven leader and an excellent choice for speaker.

“He invests so much of his time building coalitions and uniting people, implementing common-sense solutions and working in the best interests of the people of the United States. Kevin represents Kern County with distinction and honor, and I look forward to seeing him continue his principled public service as House Speaker.”

“This is an incredible opportunity for Kevin McCarthy to serve as the Speaker of the House,” said Assemblywoman Shannon Grove.

“For years, Kevin has been a faithful advocate for the Central Valley and provided steadfast, conservative leadership in the Congress. I trust members of Congress will elect him the next Speaker of the House.”

Boehner released a statement this week saying that Republicans will vote for the new Speaker on Thursday, Oct. 8. Boehner will continue to serve until the end of the month, when the new Speaker will be voted on by all members of Congress.

Pictured: Kevin McCarthy, flanked by Parade of 1000 Flags Chair Pat Farris (left) and Ridgecrest Mayor Peggy Breeden, is shown during his visit to Ridgecrest in September to serve as grand marshal of the parade. “Judy and I, we feel Ridgecrest is our home town,” he told listeners during his keynote address. -- Photo by Laura Austin

Story First Published: 2015-10-02