The surprise decision by Bakersfield Representative Kevin McCarthy to withdraw from the House speakers’ race could mean bad news for the Central Valley, according to local political experts. Many have speculated that having a speaker from the valley could have elevated local concerns in Washington.
In an understated way, this is how Representative McCarthy opened his press conference to explain his decision.
“I think I shocked some of you, eh?”
McCarthy, formerly seen as the front runner to be Speaker, said he thinks the Republican Party needs a ‘new face’ in order to unite.
“The one thing I found talking to everybody, is if we are going to unite and be strong we need a new face to do that,” McCarthy said.
McCarthy’s decision could spell bad news for the Valley according to Fresno State political Science Professor Thomas Holyoke.
Holyoke said McCarthy could also lose his prominent role as House Majority Leader.
“There were quite a number of other Republicans campaigning hard for that job, under the assumption that he was going to step out of it to run for Speaker. And they may not accept him to stay on as Majority Leader,” Holyoke said.
If that happens, Holyoke said, the prominence of Central Valley concerns, such as water and responses to the drought, will be ‘greatly reduced’.
According to Holyoke it became clear Thursday morning that McCarthy could not put a substantial Republican majority together due to outsider bids by more conservative representatives.
Holyoke also said it is unclear what the decision to not run for speaker could mean for McCarthy’s political future.
“We are trying to see how bad the damage is to Kevin McCarthy’s political career. Whether he is going down in flames or has simply wounded himself, we will see over the next several days,” Holyoke said.
While power struggles in Washington D.C. are not unusual, a dramatic intraparty fight over who will be House Speaker is.
Holyoke compared the current situation one in the 1850’s prior to the Civil War, when the big issue the abolition of slavery. In that case, it took nearly two months to pick a speaker, and led to the formation of the Republican Party. But Holyoke said the issues facing the nation today do not nearly rise to the level that slavery did, which ultimately led to a bloody civil war ten years later.