Republicans Elect Kevin McCarthy as New Majority Leader

Joshua Rosenblat

Republican members of the House of Representatives named Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) as the new majority leader Thursday. McCarthy replaces Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.), who resigned from the position in early June after he lost in his district’s primary to Tea Party candidate David Brat. While Cantor's loss to Brat led many to assume that Republicans would be pushed farther to the right, McCarthy’s victory proves that the Tea Party has “been largely unable to crack the inner circle of the House Republicans,” according to the New York Times. The more moderate Californian defeated Rep. Raúl Labrador (R-Idaho), another Tea Party candidate. The Times labeled McCarthy as “politically obsessed,” “manically social” and known evem amongst Democrats for his “affability.” Those qualities—in conjunction with his experience working in the minority in California’s state legislature—give reason to believe that McCarthy’s win is a step toward the center for Republicans: In Mr. McCarthy … lawmakers are likely to see a more pragmatic and inclusive leadership than Mr. Cantor preferred. A major reason is that Mr. McCarthy’s sensibilities and survival skills were honed during his time in Sacramento, where Democrats held a powerful legislative majority, and parochial interests among Republican lawmakers were almost as numerous as those now in the House. According to Susan Kennedy, the chief of staff for former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, McCarthy’s skill as a compromiser makes him stand out as a lawmaker: "Somehow the magic of what Kevin does is identify and hold on to the core principles, so when you have to compromise, he does not make you feel like you lost your integrity," Ms. Kennedy said. "That is what is missing in the debate today." Previously, McCarthy, 49, had been the House whip, often referred to as the third highest-ranking position in the House majority. There, Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) will be taking his place.

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Joshua Rosenblat is a Summer 2014 In These Times intern.
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