Rep. Kevin McCarthy (78598)

Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-23rd) continued his near meteoric rise in politics yesterday by assuming the House majority leader post vacated by Virginia Rep. Eric Cantor who lost his primary bid earlier this month.

McCarthy was the consensus choice for Majority Leader at a time of deep divisions within the House GOP ahead of November’s general election. Said to be “well liked” on both sides of the isle, McCarthy is now deputy to House Speaker John Boehner, who wants to regain some sense of stability among Republicans leading up to the November general election and the presidential race in 2016.

McCarthy had the support of House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, yet was challenged the past 10 days by staunch conservative Raul Labrador (R-Idaho) as well as by Louisiana’s Steve Scalise.

Prior to his rise to the second-most powerful member of the House, McCarthy was elected to the California Assembly in 2002 and quickly became the GOP leader in the lower chamber. The Bakersfield native formerly served on the 22nd congressional district before redistricting in 2011.

In 1995, McCarthy was chairman of the California Young Republicans and in 2000 became a trustee on the Kern County Community College District. Ten years later he had become House majority whip in the 112th Congress. He was a young staffer in 2006 when former House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Bill Thomas endorsed him as a replacement. Since then McCarthy has virtually cruised through every re-election.

Hollywood even took notice. Actor Kevin Spacey reportedly followed McCarthy’s political acumen as a basis for his role of fictional House Majority Whip Frank Underwood in the Netflix series “House of Cards.” Years ago, McCarthy won a lottery payout of $5,000, and he and wife, Judy, opened a deli and used proceeds from selling sandwiches to pay his way through Cal State Bakersfield.

A fitness buff, McCarthy can be often seen riding his bicycle along Rock Creek Park in Washington, D.C.

McCarthy’s more nuanced views on immigration, however, have run against the Tea Party wing of the GOP and he has had a few “showdowns” with both conservatives and pro-immigration reform advocates. His district is 35-percent Latino and pro-immigration organizations have vowed to put pressure on him to address reform.

In a hint to the “cooperative nature” of McCarthy, former California Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez once said of him: “He dives into the details of what voters think and what the voting patterns of the districts are. He often knew the best answer for a member before the member did.”