Leaders reflect on McCarthy spotlight

Rebecca Neipp

News Review Staff Writer

Leaders reflect on McCarthy spotlightThe Washington Post put into words this week what friends and constituents of House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy have been observing throughout the transition of Donald Trump’s Administration — that the Bakersfield politician and familiar face in the Indian Wells Valley is more influential than ever as an important advisor to the president.

Back in the fall, Fox and Hounds reported that McCarthy could play a critical role in providing a voice for California at the federal level. On top of the Blue State’s staunch support for Clinton during the election, Gov. Jerry Brown has followed up by challenging, and even opposing, many of the mandates being promoted by Trump. Conversely, McCarthy and his conservative district were able to strengthen their ties to D.C.

On Monday, the Post published an article titled “There’s my Kevin’: McCarthy emerges as Trump’s trusted link to Capitol Hill.” (washingtonpost.com)

The report goes on to outline the role McCarthy played in smoothing over contentious relations between Trump and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan — a longtime friend and ally of the Kern County congressman.

McCarthy’s rapid rise in politics is well documented. After a brief stint as an entrepreneur during his college years, McCarthy served in the office of Bill Thomas — who held the congressional seat currently held by McCarthy for more than two decades.

In 2002 McCarthy left his position to campaign for the California Assembly — beating then-Bakersfield Councilman (now Kern County Supervisor) Mike Maggard in a tough race.

Once in the Assembly, he was quickly selected as a part of the Republican leadership team in the lower legislature. In 2006 he handily won the seat in Congress vacated by Thomas.

McCarthy continued to climb the ranks of leadership, serving first as whip, then as his current position.

Political commentators point to his ability to bring an increasingly divided party to consensus as a key to his role as a leader.

Closer to home, elected officials believe McCarthy’s rise in prominence will continue to serve his constituents.

“Congressman McCarthy is a proven conservative problem-solver and will continue to be a voice for Kern County,” said Assemblyman Vince Fong, who similarly served as McCarthy’s district director before seeking a seat in the state legislature.

“I have seen first-hand his work, and Kern County has no greater champion that our majority leader on the national level.

“Not a week goes by that I am not talking to McCarthy about the needs of our region,” he said.

“Moving forward, I am excited to continue to work with him on the issues that improve the lives of Kern County residents — improving our business climate and cutting bureaucratic red tape, building more water storage, roads and bridges, helping our veterans and supporting China Lake.”

“It’s exciting to see how Congressman McCarthy has continued to improve his posture inside the D.C. Beltway,” said Kern County 1st District Supervisor Mick Gleason.

“By expanding his sphere of influence in the majority party and within the Republican administration, he is better able to find solutions that are good for all of us that live and work here and through California and the nation.

“To those who know and work with him, this is no surprise. We are encouraged by his presence and his actions.”

Both Mayor Peggy Breeden and Scott O’Neil, executive director of the IWV Economic Development Corp. and China Lake Alliance, noted that despite his growing responsibilities on the national scene, McCarthy continues to look out for the interests of his remote constituents in the IWV.

“I had asked Kevin about BRAC and the DOD hiring freeze, and how it affected us. He called me back himself and I thought, ‘What a gracious thing to do,’” said Breeden. (See also related story, this edition).

“This issue is so important to us. He told me what he’s doing, and who he’s working with, and the fact that he cared enough to let us know is just beyond me.

“It tells me he recognizes and values our community.”

She added that she is not at all surprised to see an expansion in his leadership role.

“How can he not? Clearly he is smart enough, and he cares enough. The only question I have is how he manages to do it all.

“I think he will continue to be a great representative to us while also being a great influence for our nation and our world.”

O’Neil said that anyone watching the media coverage since elections could see McCarthy at the center of federal governance.

“Anytime you turn on the TV — Kevin is right there. It was clear he was building a relationship with the new president from the get-go.

“I don’t see how that can have anything but a positive impact — not just for him, but for Kern County and our community.”

O’Neil said that McCarthy’s staff continues to be responsive on issues that relate to our community.

“Kevin understands China Lake, not just in terms of its importance to national security, but in terms of its value to his district,” he said.

“He and his staff have been very proactive on the DOD hiring freeze issue. That’s a good indicator that we are still in very good hands.”

Pictured: House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (right) has risen to prominence with the transition into Donald Trump’s administration. -- Courtesy photo

Story First Published: 2017-02-10