Kevin McCarthy (California politician)

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Kevin McCarthy
House Maj. Leader Kevin McCarthy official photo.jpg
House Majority Leader
Assumed office
August 1, 2014
Preceded by Eric Cantor
House Majority Whip
In office
January 3, 2011 – August 1, 2014
Leader John Boehner
Preceded by Jim Clyburn
Succeeded by Steve Scalise
House Republican Chief Deputy Whip
In office
January 3, 2009 – January 3, 2011
Leader John Boehner
Preceded by Eric Cantor
Succeeded by Peter Roskam
Member of the
U.S. House of Representatives
from California
Assumed office
January 3, 2013
Preceded by Lois Capps
Constituency 23rd district
In office
January 3, 2007 – January 3, 2013
Preceded by Bill Thomas
Succeeded by Devin Nunes
Constituency 22nd district
Minority Leader of the California Assembly
In office
January 5, 2004 – April 17, 2006
Preceded by Dave Cox
Succeeded by George Plescia
Member of the California State Assembly
from the 32nd district
In office
December 2, 2002 – November 30, 2006
Preceded by Roy Ashburn
Succeeded by Jean Fuller
Personal details
Born Kevin Owen McCarthy
(1965-01-26) January 26, 1965 (age 52)
Bakersfield, California, U.S.
Nationality American
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Judy McCarthy
Children 2
Education California State University, Bakersfield (BS, MBA)
Website House website
Party website
Congressman McCarthy at an oversight hearing of the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water and Power

Kevin Owen McCarthy (born January 26, 1965) is an American congressman from Bakersfield, California. He serves in the United States House of Representatives for California's 23rd district and as the House Majority Leader. A Republican, he was formerly chairman of the California Young Republicans and the Young Republican National Federation. McCarthy worked as district director for U.S. Representative Bill Thomas, and in 2000 was elected as a trustee to the Kern Community College District. He then served in the California State Assembly from 2002 to 2006, the last two years as minority leader. When Thomas retired from the House of Representatives in 2006, McCarthy ran to succeed him and won the election. The 23rd district, numbered as the 22nd District from 2007 to 2013, is based in Bakersfield and includes large sections of Kern and Tulare counties as well as part of the Quartz Hill neighborhood in northwest Los Angeles County.

McCarthy was elected to House leadership as the Republican Chief Deputy Whip, from 2009 to 2011, and House Majority Whip, from 2011 until August 2014, when he was elected House Majority Leader to replace the outgoing Eric Cantor, who was defeated in his primary election.[1][2] After announcing his candidacy for Speaker on September 28, 2015, he dropped out of the race on October 8 [3] after a gaffe where he said: "Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right? But we put together a Benghazi special committee, a select committee. What are her numbers today? Her numbers are dropping. Why? Because she's untrustable. But no one would have known any of that had happened, had we not fought." [4]

Early life and education[edit]

McCarthy was born in Bakersfield, California, the son of Roberta Darlene (née Palladino; November 16, 1940-),[5] a homemaker, and Owen McCarthy (June 12, 1941-),[6] an assistant city fire chief.[7][8] McCarthy is a fourth-generation resident of Kern County. He is the first Republican in his immediate family, as his parents were members of the Democratic Party.[9][10] At the age of 19, he opened his first business, a delicatessen, after winning five thousand dollars with a lottery ticket.[11] He subsequently sold the deli to attend California State University, Bakersfield,[12] where he obtained a B.S. in marketing in 1989 and an M.B.A. in 1994.[12]

Early political career[edit]

In 1995, he was chairman of the California Young Republicans. From 1999 to 2001, he was chairman of the Young Republican National Federation.[10] From the late 1990s until 2000, he was district director for U.S. Representative Bill Thomas, who, at the time, chaired the House Ways and Means Committee.[12] McCarthy won his first election in 2000, as a Kern Community College District trustee.[12]

McCarthy was elected to the California State Assembly in 2002, becoming Republican floor leader during his freshman term in 2003.[12] He was elected to the United States House of Representatives in 2006.[12][13]

U.S. House of Representatives[edit]



McCarthy entered the Republican primary for California's 22nd District after his former boss, Bill Thomas[14], announced his retirement. He won the three-way Republican primary--the real contest in this heavily Republican district--with 85 percent of the vote.[15] He then won the general election with 70.7% of the vote.[16][17]


McCarthy was unopposed for a second term.[18]


He was virtually unopposed, winning 98.8% of the vote, with opposition coming only from a write-in candidate.[19]


Redistricting before the 2012 election resulted in McCarthy's district being renumbered as the 23rd District. It became somewhat more compact, losing its share of the Central Coast while picking up large parts of Tulare County. This district was as heavily Republican as its predecessor, and McCarthy won a fourth term with 73.2% of the vote vs. 26.8% for independent, No Party Preference (NPP) opponent, Terry Phillips.[20]


In his bid for a fifth term, McCarthy faced a Democratic challenger for the first time since his initial run for the seat, Raul Garcia. However, McCarthy skated to reelection with 74.8% of the vote.[21]


McCarthy won re-election to a sixth term in 2016 with 69.2% of the vote in the general election; the opposing candidate, Wendy Reed, Democratic Party candidate, received 30.8% of the vote.[22]


He was a primary author of H.R. 1581[23] Wilderness and Roadless Area Release Act of 2011. It released wilderness study areas and forest service road-less areas administered and managed by the Bureau of Land Management from federal protection.[23] It also attempted to undo the decades-old multiple use approach enshrined in the National Forest Management Act and Federal Land Policy and Management Act, where wilderness is balanced with other public uses. Over 4 million acres in California alone would have been stripped of wilderness protection.[citation needed] The bill was widely opposed by environmentalists, as well as outdoor recreation advocates and businesses, and ultimately died in committee.[24]

Committee assignments[edit]

Party leadership[edit]

  • Last in person Town Hall: 2010 [25]
  • Last telephone Town Hall: 2013 [26]

As a freshman congressman, McCarthy was appointed to the Republican steering committee. Republican leader John Boehner appointed him chairman of the Republican platform committee during the committee's meetings in Minneapolis in August 2008, which produced the Republican Party Platform for 2008. He was also one of the three founding members of the GOP Young Guns Program.[27]

After the 2008 elections, he was chosen as chief deputy minority whip, the highest-ranking appointed position in the House Republican caucus. His predecessor, Eric Cantor, was named minority whip. On November 17, 2010, he was selected by the House Republican caucus to be the House majority whip in the 112th Congress. In this post, he was the third-ranking House Republican, behind House speaker John Boehner and majority leader Eric Cantor.

Kevin McCarthy took a hit for irresponsibility during a GOP trip to Israel in which lawmakers partook in a late-night swim in the Sea of Galilee (where the Bible says Jesus walked on water), with one party member purportedly skinny dipping.[28] McCarthy and Cantor were afraid that news of the swim would leak, anticipating how bad it would look for members of Congress to be seen drinking and swimming late at night. They were mostly worried, however, because Yoder took off his clothes and jumped into the water in front of the whole group – including at least two female staffers." [29]

He was also criticized for his expensive donut habit, he spent almost $100,000 on pastries in 2012 [30] “But the biggest spender in the House: the No. 3 Republican, California’s Kevin McCarthy,” the report revealed. “Even on his Facebook page, pictures of meetings with fruit, bagels, croissants and coffee. Grand total $95,000 and another $4,000 for bottled water. Enough to pay the salaries of two midlevel staffers.”[31] These gaffes do not appear to have cost him votes, Bakersfield is the number four least educated city[32] in the United States.

Cantor lost the June 2014 primary for his seat in Congress, and announced he would step down from House leadership at the end of July. McCarthy sought to succeed Cantor, and after some speculation that representatives Pete Sessions and Jeb Hensarling would challenge him, both dropped out leaving a clear path for McCarthy to become House majority leader.[33] On June 13, representative Raul Labrador announced he would also seek the leadership position.[34] On June 19, the Republican caucus elected McCarthy as majority leader.[35][36]

According to the University of Minnesota's Humphrey School of Public Affairs, McCarthy is the least-tenured majority leader in the history of the House of Representatives. When he assumed the majority leadership position in July 2014, he had served only seven years, six months and 29 days, the least experience of any floor leader in the House's history by more than a year.[37]

McCarthy kept four of his predecessor's staff members on his staff when he took over as majority leader, including deputy chief of staff Neil Bradley, who now has served in that role for three majority leaders.[38]

Speaker of the House candidacy and withdrawal[edit]

On September 25, 2015, John Boehner announced his intention to resign as Speaker effective October 30, 2015. Many media outlets speculated that McCarthy would likely replace him,[39] and Boehner himself stated that McCarthy "would make an excellent speaker."[40] He was the presumptive successor to the outgoing Speaker.[41] On Monday, September 28, McCarthy formally announced his candidacy.[42] Having held congressional office for less than nine years, McCarthy would have been the Speaker with the least time in Congress since 1891.[43]

On October 8, 2015, as Republicans were preparing to vote, McCarthy unexpectedly dropped out of the race, saying that Republicans needed a fresh face who could unite the caucus and "I am not that guy."[44] He added that he would remain on as Majority Leader. He reportedly had concluded that he did not have the 218 votes that would be required to be elected Speaker.[45] Previously, Representative Walter B. Jones, Jr. had sent a letter to the Republican Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers stating that any candidates for a leadership position with "misdeeds" should withdraw from the race. Jones has stated that his comment did not specifically refer to McCarthy.[46]

Comments on House Select Committee on Benghazi[edit]

In a September 29, 2015, Fox TV interview with Sean Hannity, McCarthy talked about the House of Representatives' special panel investigation into the incident when Islamic militants attacked the American diplomatic compound in Benghazi in 2012. Republicans had long maintained that the only purpose of the government-funded committee was to investigate the deaths of four Americans.[47]

In the interview, McCarthy said, “Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right? But we put together a Benghazi special committee, a select committee. What are her numbers today? Her numbers are dropping. Why? Because she’s untrustable. But no one would have known any of that had happened, had we not fought.”[48]

Many media outlets and Democratic lawmakers interpreted this comment as an admission that the investigation was a partisan political undertaking rather than a substantive inquiry.[49][50][51][52]

Several days later, McCarthy followed up on his comments and said that "Benghazi is not political. It was created for one purpose and one purpose only — to find the truth on behalf of the families of four dead Americans ... The integrity of Chairman Gowdy, the Committee and the work they've accomplished is beyond reproach. The serious questions Secretary Clinton faces are due entirely to her own decision to put classified information at risk and endanger our national security ... I've been very clear about this. And don't use politics to try to change this around. I could have been more clear in my description of what was going forward."[53]

Political positions[edit]

Kevin McCarthy opposed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act. The law added perceived gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, and disabilities as protected classes under existing federal hate crimes law. McCarthy is considered anti-LGBT on the whole and has opposed pieces of legislation directed at LGBT equality.[54] He has opposed other pieces of Hate Crimes legislation. [55]

McCarthy was an early supporter of Trump in the 2016 Republican Primaries. As a Republican in conservative Bakersfield, where coalition building is historically avoided, McCarthy avoids outreach to Democrats (which could be helpful to his constituents and the valley as whole) and independents; McCarthy maintains a lackadaisical focus on obstruction.[56]

The last bill of substance he sponsored was H.R.6007 - to amend title 49, United States Code, to include consideration of certain impacts on commercial space launch and reentry activities in a navigable airspace analysis, and for other purposes.[57] This bill was considered to privatize outer space. In 2009 [58] he introduced H.R.4352 - Small and Rural Communities Wastewater Infrastructure Act. [59] This bill was the last time he sponsored legislation dealing with "water" despite the water crisis in the valley. [60] In 2010 McCarthy signed a pledge sponsored by Americans for Prosperity promising to vote against any climate change legislation that would raise taxes on affected companies.[61]

McCarthy does not support renewing the charter of the Export-Import Bank of the U.S., as he expects the private sector to take over the role.[62]

McCarthy is pro-life and has received a 100% rating from the National Right to Life Committee. He has voted against the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, to ban abortions, to stop perceived taxpayer funding of abortion and has also voted repeatedly to repeal and/or defund the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.[63]

Personal life[edit]

McCarthy and his wife Judy have two children. They are lifelong residents of Bakersfield.[12] He has been a board member for the Community Action Partnership of Kern.[64]

Like many politicians McCarthy has been implicated in an extramarital scandal. Fox News reported: "No, it’s the fact that McCarthy is battling unproven rumors that he had an affair, rumors that the media should never have made public. And the same goes for Renee Ellmers, the North Carolina congresswoman who has dismissed the allegations as totally false." [65] But Huffington Post told more of the story: "In the hours before House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) abruptly withdrew his candidacy to be the next speaker of the House, he received an email from a conservative activist threatening to expose an alleged affair with a colleague. The subject line: “Kevin, why not resign like Bob Livingston?”

The email, sent just after 8 a.m. on Thursday, came from Steve Baer, a Chicago-based GOP donor known for mass-emailing conservative figures and Republican lawmakers. It was addressed to McCarthy and numerous others, including the personal account of Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-N.C.), whom conservative media sites have suggested is tied romantically to McCarthy."[66]


  1. ^ "Kevin McCarthy, Steve Scalise vault into GOP leadership". Politico. Retrieved June 19, 2014. 
  2. ^ "GOP Rep. McCarthy elected House majority leader". AP via Yahoo news. June 19, 2014. Retrieved June 19, 2014. 
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  5. ^ "Person Details for Roberta Darlene Palladino, "California Birth Index, 1905-1995" —". 
  6. ^ "Person Details for Owen Mccarthy, "California Birth Index, 1905-1995" —". 
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  8. ^ "Person Details for Kevin O Mccarthy, "California Birth Index, 1905-1995" —". 
  9. ^ McCarthy, Kevin (June 22, 2014). "Kevin McCarthy talks Iraq, future of the GOP; latest on IRS scandal". Fox News Sunday (Interview). Interview with Chris Wallace. Washington, D.C. Retrieved June 23, 2014. 
  10. ^ a b Cottle, Michelle (October 26, 2010). "McCarthism". New Republic. Washington, D.C.: Chris Hughes. Retrieved June 20, 2014. 
  11. ^ Nichols, Laura (September 27, 2011). "The Young Guns Take to Facebook". National Review Online. Retrieved June 23, 2014. 
  12. ^ a b c d e f g "Full Biography". Congressman Kevin McCarthy website. U.S. House of Representatives. Retrieved June 19, 2014. 
  13. ^ Sewell, Abby (June 12, 2014). "Kevin McCarthy, would-be majority leader, at home in D.C., Bakersfield". LA Times. Retrieved June 13, 2014. 
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  16. ^ "Statement of the Vote – November 2006" (PDF). California Secretary of State. Retrieved June 19, 2014. 
  17. ^ "CA – District 22". Retrieved June 19, 2014. 
  18. ^ "Statement of Vote: November 4, 2008, General Election" (PDF). California Secretary of State. Retrieved June 19, 2014. 
  19. ^ "Statement of Vote: November 2, 2010, General Election" (PDF). California Secretary of State. Retrieved June 19, 2014. 
  20. ^ "Statement of Vote: November 6, 2012 General Election" (PDF). California Secretary of State. Retrieved June 19, 2014. 
  21. ^ "2014 General Election results" (PDF). California Secretary of State. Retrieved August 21, 2015. 
  22. ^ "2016 General Election results" (PDF). California Secretary of State. Retrieved February 18, 2017. 
  23. ^ a b "Bill Text - 112th Congress (2011-2012) - THOMAS (Library of Congress)". 
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  27. ^ "Young Guns – About". National Republican Congressional Committee. 
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  33. ^ Fuller, Matt (June 12, 2014). "Pete Sessions Drops Out of Majority Leader Race, Clearing Way for Kevin McCarthy". Roll Call. Retrieved June 13, 2014. 
  34. ^ Cornwell, Susan (June 13, 2014). "Republican Rep. Labrador running for House majority leader post". Reuters. Retrieved June 17, 2014. 
  35. ^ "Eric Cantor to leave leadership post". Politico. June 11, 2014. Retrieved June 14, 2014. 
  36. ^ Can Kevin McCarthy instill a California mind-set in his House GOP colleagues?, The Los Angeles Times, June 20, 2014
  37. ^ Bobic, Igor (June 20, 2014). "Kevin McCarthy Is The Least Tenured House Majority Leader Ever". The Huffington Post. New York: AOL. Retrieved June 24, 2014. 
  38. ^ Dumain, Emma. "Majority Leader-Elect McCarthy Inherits Top Cantor Aides". Roll Call. Retrieved August 4, 2014. 
  39. ^ Russell Berman. "John Boehner to Resign as House Speaker - The Atlantic". The Atlantic. 
  40. ^ Elahe Izadi (September 25, 2015). "Boehner: McCarthy would make excellent speaker". The Washington Post. 
  41. ^ McCarthy's comments about Benghazi should raise a red flag for Republicans, Washington Post, Chris Cillizza, September 30, 2015. Retrieved October 1, 2015.
  42. ^ "McCarthy in announcing speaker bid vows no more 'governing by crisis'". Fox News. 
  43. ^ Kevin McCarthy would be the least experienced House Speaker since 1891, Washington Post, Phillip Bump, September 28, 2015. Retrieved October 4, 2015.
  44. ^ "Kevin McCarthy Withdraws From Speaker's Race, Putting House in Chaos". New York Times. October 8, 2015. Retrieved October 10, 2015. 
  45. ^ Moe, Alex (October 8, 2015). "Kevin McCarthy Abruptly Drops House Speaker Bid, Race Postponed". NBC News. Retrieved October 10, 2015. 
  46. ^ Doyle, Michael; Recio, Maria (October 8, 2015). "Rep. Walter Jones' letter clouds McCarthy's leadership withdrawal". McClatchy DC. Retrieved October 10, 2015. 
  47. ^ Terkel, Amanda (October 5, 2015). "Kevin McCarthy And His Benghazi Gaffe Star In Hillary Clinton's New Ad "The Republicans finally admit it."". The Huffington Post. 
  48. ^ Weigel, David (September 30, 2015). "Boehner's likely successor credits Benghazi committee for lowering Hillary Clinton's poll numbers". The Washington Post. 
  49. ^ Cillizza, Chris (September 30, 2015). "Kevin McCarthy's comments about Benghazi should trouble Republicans". The Washington Post. 
  50. ^ Viebeck, Elisa (September 30, 2015). "Dems pile on after McCarthy comments on Hillary Clinton, Benghazi panel". The Washington Post. 
  51. ^ Maloy, Simon (October 6, 2015). "Democrats' sweet Benghazi revenge: Kevin McCarthy's gaffe is the gift that keeps on giving". Salon. 
  52. ^ Gass, Nick (October 7, 2015). "Gowdy slams McCarthy on Benghazi comments: He 'screwed up'". Politico. 
  53. ^ McAuliffS, Michael (October 7, 2015). "Kevin McCarthy Admits Benghazi Comment Was A Gaffe: John Boehner said it could have happened to anybody". The Huffington Post. 
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  56. ^ Cadelago, Christopher (June 23, 2014). "Kevin MCarthy says Trump's Intensity May Help with GOP House Seats". Sacramento Bee. Sacramento. Retrieved February 6, 2017. 
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  62. ^ Rich, Gillian (June 23, 2014). "Boeing May Lose Exports If Ex-Im Bank Charter Revoked". Investor's Business Daily. Los Angeles: William O'Neil. Retrieved June 23, 2014. 
  63. ^ Ertelt, Steven (June 19, 2014). "Pro-Life Rep. Kevin McCarthy Elected Republican House Majority Leader Replacing Cantor". LifeNews. Retrieved May 16, 2015. 
  64. ^ "Community Action Partnership of Kern". Retrieved September 1, 2010. 
  65. ^
  66. ^

External links[edit]

California Assembly
Preceded by
Roy Ashburn
Member of the California Assembly
from the 32nd district

Succeeded by
Jean Fuller
United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Bill Thomas
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 22nd congressional district

Succeeded by
Devin Nunes
Preceded by
Lois Capps
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 23rd congressional district

Preceded by
Jim Clyburn
House Majority Whip
Succeeded by
Steve Scalise
Preceded by
Eric Cantor
House Majority Leader
Party political offices
Preceded by
Dave Cox
Leader of the Republican Party in the California Assembly
Succeeded by
George Plescia
Preceded by
Eric Cantor
House Republican Chief Deputy Whip
Succeeded by
Peter Roskam
House Republican Deputy Leader
United States order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Dave Loebsack
United States Representatives by seniority
Succeeded by
Jerry McNerney