Kevin McCarthy‘s name might be familiar in Hollywood — his home state is California — and thanks to House of Cards, the job he just left is known to many more Americans than it once was. But the new No. 2 in the U.S. House of Representatives is definitely not a man of Hollywood. He’s not the strong-jawed actor who appeared in about 100 movies, including Death of A Salesman and Invasion Of The Body Snatchers. That Kevin McCarthy died in 2010 at 96. No, this Kevin McCarthy is a Bakersfield Republican, whose conservative Central Valley district is big on oil, agriculture and defense. His 23rd District includes the far northern Los Angeles County suburb of Lancaster with its nearby aerospace facilities.
McCarthy was elected as House Majority Leader today after Speaker of the House John Boehner called a hurried leadership election to replace Eric Cantor of Virginia, whose primary loss to a Tea Party candidate June 10 stunned Washington insiders. Steve Scalise, a Louisiana third-termer, was elected over two more moderate candidates to succeed McCarthy as Chief Majority Whip.
Despite his increasing power and nearby geographic base, McCarthy is unlikely to be a Hollywood savior in the mode of Henry Waxman, the retiring Congressman whose liberal coastal Los Angeles district has been the fundraising piggy bank for national Democrats for decades (indeed, Barack Obama is returning to the area for yet another fundraiser in July). In fact, the person who takes that job — Democratic state Sen. Ted Lieu and Republican former prosecutor Elan Carr survived the 17-candidate primary to face off in November — will be challenged to make a mark as a rookie Congressman, no matter which party the winner comes from. (more…)