John Boehner exits: Who is Kevin McCarthy?

With House Speaker John Boehner's announcement that he’s resigning from his post, all eyes are now on his deputy, Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California, who is expected to succeed him. 

J. Scott Applewhite/AP/File
House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, left, followed by House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Calif., emerge from a meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington on Sept. 11, 2014. On Friday, Boehner informed Republicans that he would step down at the end of October.

John Boehner announced Friday that he’ll be stepping down as the speaker of the US House of Representatives.

Given the advantage of incumbency, Republican, majority leader Kevin McCarthy is expected seek the speaker’s job.

Although McCarthy has not indicated whether he will seek the speakership, Boehner said Friday that he thought that Representative McCarthy would “make an excellent speaker.”

So who is Kevin McCarthy?

McCarthy, representative of California, has been around for a while. Huffington Post reports that, “by the mid-'90s, he was chairman of the California Young Republicans and then moved up to be chairman of the Young Republican National Federation. Meanwhile, he became a Bakersfield district director for Rep. Bill Thomas, chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee. From there, he ran to become "Trustee to the Kern Community College District."

His has been on a steady political rise. He won a congressional seat in 2006 after being endorsed by retiring House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Bill Thomas. “Since then, McCarthy, now 50, has quickly climbed the ranks – elected as chief deputy whip in 2009, House majority whip in 2011 and then House majority leader in 2014,” NBC News reports.

The Los Angeles Times reports that while the son of a fire fighter is more conservative than Boehner, he's worked hard to build relationships in Congress

McCarthy's formula for staying one of the most popular members of the Republican caucus is built on care and feeding of colleagues.

“He's somebody that starts off with workout sessions and bike rides early in the morning with members and finishes late in the evening with either meetings or dinners,” said Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Turlock), another close McCarthy ally....

He carefully avoids drawing lines in the sand on social issues and spending priorities that are the hallmark of more combative politicians like Sen. Ted Cruz, the Texas Republican now running for president.

The lack of a rigid ideology has served McCarthy well in the corridors of the Capitol and on the campaign trail, where he has built close relationships with moderates and tea party stalwarts alike.

In his tenure as the deputy, McCarthy has been loyal to Boehner, for instance, “backing up the outgoing speaker's plan to remove a controversy over "defunding" Planned Parenthood from a stopgap spending bill that's needed to avoid a government shutdown next week. And he supported Boehner last year as one of only 28 Republicans to vote to raise the so-called debt limit without seeking concessions from Obama,” The Associated Press reports.

After Boehner’s announced that he'll step down next month, McCarthy issued a statement calling Boehner a leader and a mentor, according to NBC News.

"It takes profound humility to step down from a position of power, and John's depth of character is unmatched." McCarthy said. "Now is the time for our conference to focus on healing and unifying to face the challenges ahead and always do what is best for the American people."

According to the Boston Globe, republicans will hold their internal leadership elections Oct. 1 to avoid drawing out the process of electing a successor to Boehner.

"I'll tell Kevin, if he's the next speaker, that his No. 1 responsibility is to protect the institution. Nobody else around here has an obligation like that," Boehner told reporters on Friday. "Secondly, I'd tell him the same thing I've just told you. You just do the right thing every day for the right reasons, the right things will happen."

John Feehery, former spokesman for Dennis Hastert, the longest serving Republican speaker of the House is also sold on McCarthy. “I think that McCarthy, once he becomes speaker, will have some honeymoon for a while. And then we’ll be in a general election and the focus will change,” Mr. Feehery told The Monitor.

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