Kevin McCarthy set to replace Cantor as House Majority Leader
Meet the new boss, same as the old boss. Or worse. Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California now stands to inherit the position of Majority Leader in the House of Representatives, as Reps. Hensarling and Sessions have withdrawn from contention.
The plain fact is that the GOP House delegation is far less conservative than its base. My colleague Rick Moran estimates that tea Party-aligned House members number 80 or so votes out of the caucus, so this was probably inevitable.
On the upside, it avoids a divisive intraparty battle as the election looms. On the downside, it sends a message to the base that their concerns are of little importance to the Establishment leadership of the House.
Philip Klein lets us know about the downside of McCarthy in the Examiner:
Several groups placed McCarthy's voting record well to the left of Cantor's for 2013. TheAmerican Conservative Union rated McCarthy at 72 percent compared with 84 percent for Cantor;Heritage Action ratings place Cantor at 53 percent and McCarthy at 42 percent; and Club for Growth had Cantor at 68 percent and McCarthy at 53 percent. Moving away from conservative groups, the National Journal rated Cantor the 80th most conservative member of the House while McCarthy was 170th.
McCarthy voted for a Hurricane Sandy relief bill that included spending that was unrelated to providing emergency aid, fought for the farm and food stamp bill, fought reforms to the federalsugar program, and backed an extension of the corporate welfare agency known as the Export-Import Bank.
In January, he also supported a path to legal status for immigrants who entered this country illegally.
As Red State's Erick Erickson pointed out, McCarthy even participated in a retreat for liberal Republicans at the Ritz-Carlton on Amelia Island, Fla. The event was hosted by the RepublicanMain Street Partnership, which is a group run by representative-turned-lobbyist Steve LaTourette aimed at defeating conservatives. The organization includes big labor unions among its donors.
I am less discouraged than Klein, but then again I am a perpetual political optimist. To paraphrase Donald Rumsfeld, you go into elections with the House delegation that you have. You defeat Thad Cochran in the Mississippi runoff election, to drive home the message from Virginia, and then you work your butts off to get a GOP majority in the Senate and add to it in the House. And then you let the senators and reps know that they could be in Cantor’s shoes in 2016 if they don’t respond to the base. Fear is a great motivator. If and when your rep attends any more Amelia Island-type retreats, you start talking and writing about uniting behind a challenger in 2016.