McCarthy Doubles Down on Denouncing Dems, Bets on Trump

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has set a goal no party has done in 65 years, winning back the majority just two years after losing it.

But the California Republican knows better than to over promise and under deliver. So he makes only one guarantee for the 2020 elections.

“House Republicans will gain seats,” McCarthy predicted. “We will gain seats.”

McCarthy is doubling down on the GOP’s recent strategy of denouncing Democrats and casting them as socialists who want a complete government takeover of everything from health care to straws. Rather than encourage distance from an unpopular president, McCarthy wants Republicans to stick close to President Trump — an intentional break from the previous tension that existed between the White House and his predecessor, Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.), a close McCarthy friend.

McCarthy has studied the Democratic field and believes Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) is the most likely 2020 nominee, something Trump has been hinting at lately, including in his remarks here to GOP lawmakers Thursday.

“Trump is going to expand the playing field. If Elizabeth Warren comes in, the playing field grows,” McCarthy said in a 40-minute interview here on the second day of the three-day GOP policy retreat. He sees Warren’s liberal positions as a chance for a presidential contest pitting “socialism vs. freedom.”

It’s a calculus with much peril. After 12 years as a leadership lieutenant, McCarthy is gambling his standing atop this caucus on the combustible Trump.

The Democratic 40-seat gain last fall was anchored around suburban battlegrounds that despise the president. Trump’s problems with female voters have only grown worse — a Washington Post-ABC News poll found just 30 percent approving of his job performance.

Adding to that environment, 17 Republicans have already announced their intention to retire, resign or seek another office, the sort of exodus that would not happen if they believed in a quick return to the majority.

At the center of this political storm sits McCarthy, 54, who entered Congress in 2007 as the eager understudy to Ryan and Eric I. Cantor (R-Va.). Together, they were the self-branded “Young Guns” who promised to “change the face of the Republican Party” in a book released nine years ago Saturday.

In 2010, after a recruiting effort led by McCarthy, Republicans swept into power with tea party energy. Slowly but surely, however, they fell victim to a political environment they helped create, with Cantor, then majority leader, losing a 2014 primary to a more conservative challenger.

After tea party Republicans blocked McCarthy’s elevation, Ryan rose to speaker in 2015, only to see his legacy erased by Trump’s victory in turning the GOP away from Ryan’s vision of free trade and a more diverse coalition.

Now McCarthy is the only one left, essentially a middle-aged “gun.” Almost all his friends from those first years in Congress are gone, including several fellow Californians swept out in a backlash against Trump.

“Is this the beginning of my career? No,” McCarthy said. “But am I better suited, been tested more, learned more, then, for this moment right now? Yeah.”

This job, he said, uniquely fits his skill set. His main tasks are raising money and recruiting candidates, and he began 2019 by raising $21 million in the first quarter, believed to be the largest early haul ever by a House leader.

An early aspirant to leadership, rather than a lawmaker rising in the committee ranks, McCarthy has never been viewed as a policy wonk. But life in the minority provides no real opportunities to shape legislation anyway.

So McCarthy is back to his roots, when he served as a traveling political salesman coaxing the next generation of Republicans to run when the GOP was completely shut out of power a decade ago.

Always obsessed with metrics, he used to track how many Democrats voted for at least two of three major pieces of Obama-era legislation — the economic stimulus, a climate bill and the Affordable Care Act — to predict 2010 outcomes.

He loves random factoids. The House majority had flipped in 1994 and 2006 when former NFL players won seats, so in 2010 he recruited a former Philadelphia Eagle to run for a seat in southern New Jersey. In 2018, Democrats won as Rep. Colin Allred (D-Tex.), a former NFL linebacker, flipped a GOP seat outside Dallas, continuing the somewhat random trend.

Today, McCarthy knows that there are more 28-year-olds in America than any other age, and that he’s already served the same amount of time in elected leadership posts as Ryan and Cantor combined, almost nine years.

McCarthy believes Republicans start the 2020 campaign with 55 initial targets: 31 Democrats in districts that favored Trump in the 2016 election and continuing with the seats that GOP nominees won in 2012 and 2008.

Some colleagues believe that McCarthy might be their only hope for crafting a strategy to win suburban battlegrounds with Trump at the top of the ticket focusing on culture wars.

“Kevin’s strength is knowing these districts and knowing the type of candidates it’s going to take to win these districts, and really trying to broaden the umbrella of the party while still making sure that we’re representing those Trump voters,” Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) said.

Stefanik emerged last November as a leading critic of leadership’s failure to advance Republican women in primaries and then fully support those who made it to the general election, reaching 25-year lows of female Republicans in the House.

She gave McCarthy good grades so far, particularly after female candidates comprised a majority of the initial wave of “Young Gun” endorsements for the first time ever with the GOP campaign arm.

McCarthy’s original image of being everyone’s best friend in leadership? He wants that banished. He plans a full-force push to get diverse candidates to win the nomination, believing his positive relationship with Trump can secure endorsements over conservative ideologues in GOP primaries.

“We’re going to put the very best people on the field,” McCarthy said.

What has helped McCarthy’s standing is the lack of caucus infighting. Four years ago, members of the Freedom Caucus blocked his path to speaker, but on Thursday, the retreat kicked off with McCarthy shoulder to shoulder with Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), the founder of the rabble-rousing caucus.

“He’s standing next to me now instead of shooting at me,” McCarthy said.

Once they lost the majority last fall, McCarthy sought out his rival to try settle old feuds, at least temporarily. McCarthy pushed him to take the ranking Republican position on the House Oversight Committee.

“Don’t be stubborn,” he told Jordan, who accepted.

The ultimate test comes November 2020, and McCarthy has placed his bet on Trump, hoping he draws out voters who will also pull the lever for his House candidates. He knows that a Trump victory and House GOP gains will likely keep him in power.

He is also very aware that a Trump defeat and House losses will imperil his future.

“I just believe, whatever job I’m given,” McCarthy said, “surpass expectations and there will always be more opportunity for you.”

McCarthy Shatters Record, Raising $33.7M for House GOP

No House Republican has ever raised as much money in the first half of a year as Republican leader Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) has thus far in 2019, according to fundraising figures released by his campaign on Wednesday morning.

McCarthy’s fundraising committees announced the campaign had raised $10.66 million in the second quarter, bringing his total haul for the year thus far to $33.72 million. The success has allowed it to already distribute $8.8 directly to reelection campaigns of members and $10.7 million to the National Republican Congressional Committee and state parties.

“The substantial resources raised thus far will allow us to take our vision and message to the people—and expand the map by outworking, out-recruiting and exposing the corrupt, inept new Democrat socialist party,” McCarthy said. “Together we will restore a government that put America first and every American back on top.”

With $33.72 million, McCarthy just edged out the previous fundraising record for a House Republican, set by former Republican leader Paul Ryan (Wisc.) in 2017 when he had raised $33.06 million at the halfway point.

This year’s haul, however, shatters the amount raised by Ryan last year, when Republicans failed to maintain their control of the House. Ryan’s fundraising team raised only about $15 million through two quarters last year.

McCarthy credits the fundraising success partially to current “chaos” with Democrats in the majority.

“Republicans are on offense, fighting back and winning against the socialist agenda coming from House Democrats,” McCarthy said. “The ensuing chaos from the Democrat caucus has left this majority rudderless and exposed their inability to solve problems on behalf of the American people.”

 

McCarthy Coordinating With Local Officials and Governor for Aid Following Earthquake

RIDGECREST, Calif. (KGET) — House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) said Saturday morning he has been coordinating with local officials and the governor’s office to get the aid the county needs following the 7.1 magnitude quake near Ridgecrest.

McCarthy tweeted he’s been at the incident command center set up following the powerful temblor that struck 8:19 p.m. Friday. He said first responders and search and rescue teams worked through the night.

“Last night’s earthquake was one of the biggest ones I can remember,” he tweeted. “Lots of damage and power outages in the Ridgecrest area, but thankfully no reports of death or serious injuries.”

My Dad Was a Fireman. This Is the Greatest Lesson He Taught Me

He died on January 28, 2000, when he was only 58 years old, after fighting a fierce battle with cancer. Even in those final years of his life, my dad just couldn’t stay away from the fire department and his fellow firefighters.

I remember one day, while he was going through chemotherapy, my dad heard the familiar rumble and siren of a Bakersfield fire truck responding to a call. Most people who are going through chemotherapy are advised to relax and get plenty of rest. They are probably also advised to avoid strolling around the neighborhood carrying their IV.

But when my dad heard that familiar rumble and siren of a Bakersfield fire truck in the distance, there was nothing I could do. The next thing I knew, I saw my father riding along in the truck, IV and all.

No one and nothing, not even cancer, could take the fireman out of him.

My dad’s unwavering spirit and appetite for life is one of the dozens of lessons and values he gave my sister, brother and me over the years. It’s something I try to carry with me as I navigate the halls of Congress and the world of politics and, more importantly, as my wife and I raise our own two children.

Another lesson is the value of a strong work ethic. Like many firemen, my dad had two jobs. When he wasn’t working 24-hour shifts, he moved furniture. When he did work 24-hour shifts, my mom would pile my siblings and me into the car and drive us down to the fire station to visit him. On the way home, if we were lucky, we’d stop at Bob’s Big Boy for hot fudge sundaes.

My dad loved sayings. As I’ve grown up, one of them in particular has stuck with me: “Any job big or small, do it right or not at all.”

It didn’t matter if cancer was trying to slow my dad down – if there was a job to do, he was going to do it. That day he was getting in that firetruck no matter what.

Politics has brought me to the ends of the Earth and it’s introduced me to some incredible and unique people. I’m honored to represent a district with some of the most hardworking and respectable men and women in this country.

But for all the good that Washington and those who work here have provided, it can be easy to get distracted by the noise and the faux outrage.

I sometimes fear we forget that the job we have – as elected representatives of the greatest country in the world – is a privilege. And as my dad did, we should all aim to get in our metaphorical trucks every day, and do our jobs right – big or small.

On Father’s Day, I’m reminded of that. I’m reminded of all the lessons my father instilled in me, whether he meant to or not.

My dad would have turned 77 years old just a couple of days ago. I can see him now: somehow never tired from the long shifts at the firehouse, laughing so hard he could barely finish his story. I’d ask him how he’s doing, and he’d say: “Just a little shy of wonderful.”

Happy Father’s Day Dad, and Happy Father’s Day to all the brave men and women at the Bakersfield Fire Department.

VA Mission Act Going Into Effect on D-Day, Giving Local Access to Healthcare to Veterans

 

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — The VA M.I.S.S.I.O.N. Act was passed and signed into law in 2018, and it changes the eligibility requirements for veterans to allow veterans locally, paid for by Veterans Affairs and advocated for by Congressman Kevin McCarthy.

Previously, federal law said that the VA would only pay for a veteran to receive private or specialty care, if the veteran had to drive more than 40 miles or wait longer than 30 days could choose to see a VA doctor.

Now under the M.I.S.S.I.O.N. Act, the VA will pay for care if a veteran has to wait longer than 28 days or drive more than an hour to see a VA provider — meaning that more veterans can receive care locally instead of traveling outside the county.

The law makes it so that as many as 2.1 million vets are now eligible for private care compared to the previous number of 560,000 eligible veterans.

Local veterans say that this law is good news for the veteran community.

McCarthy Honors Local Hero, Blaine Hodge

Rep. Kevin McCarthy presented Blaine Hodge with the 2019 Citizens Honors Award from the Congressional Medal of Honor Society on Tuesday.

In September 2018, Hodge saved a woman being chased by a man wielding an 18-inch machete in a Starbucks in Bakersfield.

“Fight or flight, we all question what we would do in a frightening situation, but we all wouldn’t wonder what Blaine would do,” McCarthy said in a news release. “He acted swiftly and bravely, two qualities that no doubt helped to save the survivor and all those in the immediate area that day.”

McCarthy also directed a flag to be flown over the U.S. Capitol in Hodge’s honor.

“I hope that we never find ourselves in a similar circumstance, but if we do, may we all fight as valiantly as Blaine Hodge, a true hero,” McCarthy said.