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New House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s Career, Explained

Much has been said about now house speaker Kevin McCarthy’s seemingly never ending struggle to become Speaker of the House (though he did eventually pull out), with the notion that being speaker was McCarthy’s “biggest dream.” And to an extent, this is true, as McCarthy has wanted the job for almost a decade. But let’s learn more about McCarthy and his path to getting where he is today.

Instead of becoming a lawyer or businessperson like most politicians McCarthy started in politics early. While and after attending college, he created a presence in Washington by leading the California Young Republicans and staffing for Congressman Bill Thomas.

In 2006, McCarthy ran for California’s 22nd congressional district as a Republican after Bill Thomas, the person who he once worked for, retired. He has comfortably won the district (now known as California’s 23rd congressional district) ever since. 

Since getting elected, McCarthy has made a name for himself in GOP circles, and was named House Majority Whip in 2010, making him the third ranking Republican in the house. He later became House Majority Leader, and after John Boenher stepped down in 2015, he announced his candidacy for speaker, however dropped out and voted for Paul Ryan. This was most likely due to the fact that while he was running he accidentally said that the Benghazi committee to investigate Hillary Clinton was politically motivated.

From 2015 onwards, he served as leader of the house Republicans, and during this time maintained all conservative stances including supporting Donald Trump, even after the January 6th Insurrection. 

In 2022, Republicans finally took back the house for the first time since 2018, largely due to McCarthy’s impact, however not to the extent Republicans hoped for. While McCarthy was considered the heavy favorite for Speaker, a group of around 20 hard right Republicans of the freedom caucus opposed him, causing 15 votes for Speaker until McCarthy finally was elected when he gave up key concessions. The vote was the longest since 1859. Due to the number of concessions he gave, it is very possible that Kevin McCarthy will be the weakest Speaker in modern history, however we will just have to wait and see.

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