California’s own Rep. Kevin McCarthy, who replaced Eric Cantor as House Majority Leader, could take over as Speaker of the House following John Boehner’s surprise resignation, announced on Friday.
McCarthy has long been considered a future prospect for the job, ever since ascending to the higher ranks of the Republican leadership. But his rapid rise, and his recent support from conservatives, were largely unanticipated.
The Hill reported earlier this month that McCarthy was being considered as an alternative to Boehner, possibly after a coup by House conservatives, who have grown increasingly frustrated by Boehner’s accommodations style.
There has been pressure on Boehner ever since late 2012, when his “plan B” to avoid the “fiscal cliff” of tax hikes was rejected by the House Republican caucus. In the end, taxes were raised on the highest earners. A subsequent effort to unseat him in January 2013 fizzled, as did a similar attempt early this year. The main problem was the lack of a clear leader among House conservatives willing to challenge Boehner and risk losing a leadership fight.
As his support eroded, Boehner relied on votes from Democrats to pass legislation, bypassing the “Hastert rule,” a convention in which the Speaker seeks approval from a majority of Republicans before bringing measures to the floor.
McCarthy hails from Bakersfield, in the Central Valley, and was successful in business before entering politics.
Boehner has indicated that he will serve until the end of October, then give up the gavel–and his House seat.