With the announcement that House Rules Committee Chairman and former National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Pete Sessions (R-TX) had abruptly dropped out of the race to succeed House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), who lost his primary last Tuesday night, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) is now the only announced candidate for the job. While a couple of conservatives are talking about jumping into the race, McCarthy, who currently serves as the House Majority Whip, is now the prohibitive favorite for the post.
While many are looking at the national implications of a switch from Cantor to McCarthy–a fellow leader of the GOP establishment–in the second-highest spot in the House, it is worth noting that this boost in McCarthy’s influence and prestige means there are some winners right here in his home state of California. Here are the top five:
1. California’s Republican House challengers
McCarthy has always kept a close eye on California races. His election means more resources may be focused on three to six competitive House seats here, boosting the candidacies of Doug Ose (CA-7), Brian Nestande (CA-42), Carl DeMaio (CA-52) and possibly Jeff Gorrell (CA-26), Dan Logue (CA-3) and Paul Chabot (CA-31) as well.
2. Opponents of high-speed rail
While McCarthy is considered to be much more of a political leaders than a policy wonk, one area where the Bakersfield congressman has thrown down the gauntlet is in trying to stop California’s quixotic efforts to construct an extraordinarily expensive high speed rail system–one dependent in large part on federal funds.
3. GOP House candidate Tony Strickland
House Armed Services Committee Chairman Howard “Buck” McKeon (R-CA) is retiring this year. There is a huge intra-party battle to replace him taking place between popular conservative State Senator Steve Knight and former State Senator Tony Strickland. Under California’s “jungle” primary system, both Republicans have advanced to the general election. Strickland is a protégé and close friend of McCarthy’s, who will undoubtedly be helping him out in general election.
4. Those who don’t want Charles T. Munger, Jr., dominating the California GOP
For years now, Munger, one of the children of Warren’s Buffet’s billionaire business partner, Charles Munger, has been spending his patrimony prolifically in California. The eclectic scientist-turned-political sugar daddy has been growing in influence, spending millions in primary and general elections in the Golden State. McCarthy’s ongoing rise means that for now, anyways, Munger clearly is not the most powerful Republican figure in California.
5. California’s House delegation
While California’s GOP delegation of 15 members already has some clout, with three high profile committee chairmen–Darrell Issa at Oversight, Ed Royce at Foreign Affairs, and Buck McKeon at Armed Services–there is no doubt that having the Majority Leader in the California GOP delegation meetings will mean added juice for all of the California Republicans. Furthermore, on the Democrat side of the aisle, many California Democrats in Congress have long-standing relationships with McCarthy, some having served with him in the California legislature.