Born in Bakersfield, California, Kevin McCarthy, who turns 58 on January 26, served in his state’s Congress from 2002 to 2006. In the midterm elections of November 7, 2006, he was a candidate for the United States House of Representatives in the number 22 district of California. He was elected with more than 70% of the votes. Since then, he has been re-elected eight times. He now represents district number 20. Married with two children, he still lives in Bakersfield.
His rise among the Republicans is fast. Appointed Deputy Minority Whip after the 2008 elections, he became Majority Whip two years later, as the Republicans regained control of Congress. On June 19, 2014, he became majority leader. When his colleague John Boehner announced his intention to step down as Speaker of the House in September 2015, Mr. McCarthy presented his candidacy, but withdrew it a few days later. However, he remains the leader of his party.
Libya: the blunder
If Kevin McCarthy withdrew his candidacy in 2015, it was in part because of a blunder he made in evoking the creation of a House committee to look into the attack on the United States embassy. in Libya which cost the life of Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens on September 11, 2012. On Fox News, Mr. McCarthy declares that this committee was set up to lower the popularity rating of Hillary Clinton, then Secretary of state, and not because of a serious mistake by the Obama administration. According to Jason Opal, full professor in the Department of History and Classical Studies at McGill University, this position angered ultraconservatives. “In my view, Mr. McCarthy has inadvertently positioned himself as a ‘slightly less hostile’ leader toward Obama. [ennemi numéro un pour l’extrême droite] and Clinton [ennemi numéro deux], he said. He therefore withdrew his candidacy. »
In September 2010, Kevin McCarthy and two other Republican representatives, Paul Ryan and Eric Cantor, published the book Young Guns: A New Generation of Conservative Leaders. Defining themselves as “proud Republicans”, the authors nevertheless believe that their party has “lost sight of the ideals in which it believes such as economic freedom, a reduction in the size of government, the sanctity of life and the family”. Paul Ryan became Speaker of the House in October 2015, replacing John Boehner. He did not stand for re-election in November 2018. Eric Cantor left politics in August 2014.
2020 results: he denies their validity, then retracts
Kevin McCarthy is one of the Republicans who, alongside Donald Trump, denied the validity of the presidential results of November 3, 2020. Thus, on December 8, during a meeting of the bipartisan committee on the investiture ceremonies of the new President, he refuses to recognize the results. On January 20, 2021, the day Joe Biden was sworn in, Mr. McCarthy steps back. In a statement, he said, “With wafer-thin margins in the House and Senate and with President Biden promising to represent all Americans, I believe we can come together and restore peace, prosperity, and security. Shortly after the ceremony, he meets Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris and congratulates them.
On January 6, 2021, during the assault led by supporters of Donald Trump against the Capitol, Kevin McCarthy is interviewed by Norah O’Donnell on CBS News. He bluntly condemns violence. When Mme O’Donnell asks him if he has spoken to Donald Trump, he answers: “I was very clear during my call with the president: this must stop, he must address the American public to ask that this stop. A few months later, on June 6, 2021, in a private meeting with two police officers who participated in the defense of the Capitol, Mr. McCarthy told them that the president had no idea what was going on, a recorded statement who makes noise! However, testimony at the House committee hearings on these events indicates otherwise.
A good negotiator?
What kind of leader is Kevin McCarthy in the House? “They say that McCarthy likes to negotiate with anyone, at least among the conservatives, and that he knows how to listen to his rivals,” replies Jason Opal. He is very flexible in the face of the different camps among the Republicans, and he is able, as far as possible, to collaborate with Donald Trump without completely giving in to the latter’s demands. And let’s not forget he’s from California, where the Republicans would like to make gains! »
With CNN, the washington post and USA Today