“He has been the most important Republican in California for the past decade,” said Rob Stutzman, a Republican consultant who worked under former governor Arnold Schwarzenegger when McCarthy was in the state legislature.
“it is not healthy [California Republican Party] If he were to lose it.
McCarthy wielded enormous power and influence as the presumptive future speaker. He drops away if he can’t garner votes — though he can still retain his seat in his Republican-friendly district and access GOP voters and donors.
After decades of work in the political trenches, McCarthy has become synonymous with the California Republican Party. while The state GOP has waned from the days when it produced stalwarts like Ronald Reagan, something McCarthy helped maintain. His hometown of Bakersfield lies in the conservative heartland of the Central Valley, an area of farms and oil derricks that bears little resemblance to liberal coastal enclaves like San Francisco and Los Angeles.
McCarthy rose from a role with the Young Republicans in the 1990s to a job with then-Rep. Bill Thomas and then a seat in the state assembly, where he would lead the Republican caucus and — before departing for Congress — establish a reputation as a relationship-builder willing to work with Democrats.
“It’s really been his life since high school,” said former Representative Connie Conway, who encouraged then-Assemblyman McCarthy to run for the state assembly, where he would also serve as minority leader. Will come
Assemblyman James Gallagher, who served under McCarthy as a running mate in the early 2000s and now leads the Republican caucus in Sacramento, said McCarthy has shown himself to be a consistent advocate for the party and a campaign nut. The and-bolt proved to be a workhorse. ,
McCarthy has been crucial to Republican victories in both Congress and the Legislature, he said.
“He’s already been very helpful to us. Obviously as a speaker, this will bring a lot of weight,” Gallagher said. “Many of us are disappointed that a handful of people are not getting together and uniting and supporting a man who has been in a fight with us.”
The future speaker’s ascent has also divided him from some conservative former allies who believe he has placed ambition – and envy for Trump – on principle. Thomas, former Republican congressman and lifelong mentor, denounced his former colleague To enable Trump’s “lies” about the election in 2021.
As his national profile rose — thanks to his unwavering loyalty to Trump — McCarthy became indispensable to his home state’s beleaguered party. He worked to recruit candidates and woo California-based donors, whose dollars buoyed Republican prospects both in the country and in California.
Jeff Denham, a former representative who served with McCarthy in the Assembly and Congress, said, “He has driven the party in California not only from a fundraising base but from a grassroots organization.” “He has been someone who has been very involved with the California Republican Party and has been helping recruit candidates at all levels.”
Fittingly, a McCarthy protégé now leads the California Republican Party. With McCarthy’s support, party chair Jessica Millen Patterson defeated far-right challengers to secure the position in 2019.
After a disastrous 2018 cycle, the party flipped its first seat in a generation with Rep. Mike Garcia defending its frontline members last fall. Those Republicans who voted in lockstep to elevate McCarthy to speaker benefited from McCarthy’s prolific fundraising machine.
“McCarthy is extremely important to the California Republican Party and anyone running for office as a Republican in California. He is the leader of the party, he is the most efficient fundraiser we have ever had,” Republican consultant Dave Gilliard said, who has run several California Republican House races.”I think that’s why the California delegation has been so united in its support.”
Republicans and Democrats who worked with McCarthy in Sacramento remember him more as a pragmatist than an ideologue. So some are not surprised to see him surrounded by the more hard-line elements of his party.
“Kevin I know has always been a moderate,” said Dean Florez, a former Democratic assemblyman who represented a distinct swath of the Central Valley with McCarthy in the mid-2000s. Regarding Republicans who oppose him, Florez said, “I don’t think they let Tom McClintock into the Freedom Caucus, he’s very liberal – and he was the party of ‘no’ when we were here” in Sacramento.
Schwarzenegger as “Bakersfield Boy” called him onceStutzman, an adviser who served under Schwarzenegger, said he has tried to adapt to changes in his party as new-age Republicans put major obstacles in his way.
“They just want to watch the world burn,” he said.
For now, California Republicans are watching the impasse in Washington with a mixture of incredulity and frustration — and hoping for their fellow Californians to prevail.
Former Republican State Sen. Roger Niello, who served in the Assembly with McCarthy, said, “I am deeply troubled by the active preference of a minority of elected officials who believe that bomb-throwing is the key to their success.” “Kevin McCarthy is not a bomb thrower.”
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