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GOP Shakeup Could Have An Effect On California

Lauren Victoria Burke / AP

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Calif. is pursued by the media on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, Sept. 25, 2015.

Lauren Victoria Burke / AP

UPDATE: (AP) - In a stunning move, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy has withdrawn his candidacy for House Speaker.

Click here for updates.

With U.S. House Speaker John Boehner resigning at the end of the month, Republican lawmakers from the Sacramento region are excited about the prospect of Bakersfield Congressman Kevin McCarthy taking over the position. The GOP shakeup could have an effect on California issues.

Before Kevin McCarthy was elected to the House of Representatives in 2006, he served as the Assembly Republican Leader in California. In his Sacramento days, one of his housemates was Oroville Republican Congressman Doug LaMalfa who concedes McCarthy was a better housekeeper.

"He was pretty tidy, I was the one that wasn’t," he says. "He can tell you a story about that, I’m not going to rat myself out on it."

When they served in Sacramento the two lawmakers were in the minority. LaMalfa says that should bode well for McCarthy who is expected to become the next Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives.

"We were having bipartisan barbeques out of the house he and I shared with a couple other guys you know so it was pretty good so where that’s possible there it’s also possible here, but obviously you’re going to run into partisan stone walls that nothing will ever overcome than sheer numbers of whose ahead in votes in the last election," he says.

Outgoing Speaker John Boehner was once considered one of the most conservative lawmakers in Congress. But when he started working with Democrats to get bills passed, the tea party wing of the GOP got mad.

LaMalfa says that wasn’t fair.

"It’s just more of about making Speaker Boehner the boogeyman on this thing. You know? But the speaker reflected in the person of one man the average of the caucus," he says.

Roseville Republican Tom McClintock offers a different assessment of Boehner’s tenure as speaker.

"He wouldn’t listen to rank and file," he says. "I thought that his management style was autocratic and his judgment on many occasions very poor and I think it’s one of the reasons he became a lightning rod."

McClintock says one trait, in particular, stands out when he thinks about McCarthy.

"I think that Kevin McCarthy has proven himself as majority leader he will be a great speaker because he is a great listener, which is one of John Boehner’s big failings," says McClintock.

McCarthy and the six other candidates vying for leadership positions must make their pitches to the conservative wing of the party, including the tea party-tinged House Freedom Caucus. That group is using the resignation of Boehner to try to drive the party further to the right. Some have endorsed shutting down the government as a way to repeal Obamacare or to defund Planned Parenthood, which McClintock opposed. He resigned from the Freedom Caucus in protest.

"I think their tactics were counterproductive to enactive conservative policy not only were they not advancing the conservative agenda they have been an active impediment to that agenda, unwittingly albeit, but an impediment never the less," he says.

But even if a ‘Speaker McCarthy’ can negotiate the minefield that is the U.S. House, there’s a question of what can he do for California.

McCarthy’s old roommate, Congressman LaMalfa, says probably quite a bit.

"I think he can sure bring a stronger focus on California and western states more unique needs I think a lot of time the East Coast doesn’t understand our issues we have with federal land, federal agencies regulation of that land," says LaMalfa.

LaMalfa says it could be especially beneficial for water policy.

"I think we can move our legislation more quickly and have a stronger emphasis on what we’re looking at but what’s beneficial for us on resources is probably going to be good for everybody just we have a stronger emphasis on that," he says. "So much of our land west of the Mississippi is federally owned. I think again it will be it can be quite helpful in all that."

Last week McCarthy angered rank and file Republicans when he said the Select Committee on the Benghazi terrorist attack has weakened Hillary Clinton politically. Her campaign is using that statement to discredit the investigation. That misstep has opened the door for challengers from the right, which McCarthy is expected to overcome. Still there is speculation he may have weakened himself before ever picking up the Speaker’s gavel.

 Kevin McCarthyU.S. House Of Representatives

Matt Laslo

Former Contributing Washington DC Reporter

Based on Capitol Hill, Matt Laslo is a reporter who has been covering Congress, the White House and the Supreme Court since 2006. He has filed stories for NPR and more than 40 of its affiliates, including Capital Public Radio.  Read Full Bio 

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