McCarthy pulls out of Speaker race; House GOP in disarray

Oct 9, 2015

On a day expected to be dominated by the news that Brendan Stone, one of the heroes of the French train attack, had been stabbed in Sacramento (right outside the old California Journal offices, I might add), House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy grabbed the headlines, announcing that he was removing himself from the race for Speaker.  The unexpected move has left congressional Republicans without a clear successor to John Boehner and sets up a leadership scramble that threatens to divide an already fractured conference.  Jake Sherman, Anna Palmer and John Breshnahan at Politico:


“A McCarthy aide delivered the news to a shocked Boehner just moments before he made the announcement publicly.


“’For the betterment of the conference, if we are going to have all these battles about wanting to do something, it's easier if we have someone who comes and unites us,’ McCarthy said during the interview. ‘And there’s something to be said about a fresh face.’


“With that, McCarthy's unusually rapid ascent through House leadership ranks came to an abrupt halt…


 “’The conference is in an odd place,’ McCarthy said, as he scrolled through messages on his BlackBerry. ‘Sometimes you gotta hit the bottom to be able to come back. This gives us a real fresh start – a new start gives a fresh start. Having a fresh face brings the conference together. There are hurt feelings about past things on all sides, I tried to do some healing there.’”


While McCarthy’s announcement has dashed hopes for a second Speaker from California, another Golden State congressman appears to be teeing up a run. Jesse Byrnes and Scott Wong at The Hill:


“Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), the former chairman of the House Oversight Committee, is considering a bid for Speaker, a source close to the congressman told The Hill.


"’There is no definitive decision that's been made, but it's certainly being talked about. All options are on the table,’ the source said.”


Meanwhile, back in California, Governor Brown continued signing and vetoing bills, taking action on about 90 pieces of legislation Thursday, including a measure to expand the Air Resources Board by two members, to be chosen by legislative leaders.  Chris Megerian and Patrick McGreevy, LAT:


“’Approximately 8 million Californians live in areas that are considered to be highly impacted by environmental problems,’ said a statement from the bill's author, Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins (D-San Diego). ‘They need to be heard.’"


Other signings included SB 178, a bill by Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) that requires police to have a warrant to search email, text messages and other electronic communicationsAB 888 by Richard Bloom, (D-Santa Monica) which bans soaps and other products with microbeads, and AB 1448 by Patty Lopez (d-San Fernando), a bill allowing renters and HOA members to use clotheslines in private areas.


The governor also signed a bill forbidding tolls for pedestrians and bicyclists on the Golden Gate Bridge.


New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced yesterday that he wants to work with California and Quebec to create a North American Carbon market.  From Argus:


“Cuomo said today that New York will reach out to the other members of the nine-state Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) in an effort to link their power sector-only cap-and-trade program with California and Quebec's economy-wide carbon market. Ontario, which is developing rules for a cap-and-trade program, plans on joining California and Quebec as soon as 2017.”


And, a sad, strange case in Concord: could City Attorney Mark Coon’s suicide be related to an influence-peddling report he had nearly completed?  From the Contra Costa Times:


“On Tuesday, Coon inexplicably left his office, drove to Walnut Creek and leaped from the third-floor ledge of a downtown parking lot. He leaves behind a wife, two school-age children and a shocked community of friends and colleagues.


“Coon was regarded as a personable lawyer of high integrity, liked and respected in and outside the city. He had been completing a report on a city investigation into allegations of influence-peddling when he suddenly took his life.


“His findings could have heavily influenced the City Council's choice of a developer, a decision with potentially billions of dollars at stake.


“Now Concord officials must hire an outside attorney, with no city ties, to complete the investigation, determine if the selection process was tainted and ascertain whether there was a connection between Coon's report and his suicide.”


And, revisiting our top story, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s shocking withdrawl from the Speaker’s race yesterday marks a major turnaround for a politician whose career has been most noteworthy for the meteoric speed of his ascent.


While McCarthy’s allies cried in the aftermath of the announcement, some conservative members claimed victory, seeing an opening for one of their own.  


Dems could barely control their enthusiasm, with some suggesting that Nancy Pelosi is available if the Reeps can’t find anyone.  Mark Takano, (D-Riverside) trolled the hardest, posting a “help wanted” ad on the Washington D.C. Craigslist:


“Are you an American Citizen? Do you have experience negotiating hostage situations? Are you ready for the challenge of a lifetime? Then this job is for you!

We are seeking an extremely patient and motivated person to lead the U.S. House of Representatives.


-Keeping the government open

-Avoiding a default on U.S. debt

-Maintaining women’s access to health care

-Managing multiple investigative committees aimed at attacking Hillary Clinton

-Explaining to the “Freedom Caucus” the concepts of compromise and democratic governance…”


But, the ugliest moments came from the right, with several conservative news sites speculating that McCarthy stepped aside because he had been threatened with exposure of a rumored affair. While the stories remain unsubstantiated, it is interesting that details of the affair were published on Red State the day BEFORE McCarthy withdrew from the race.


And to add another layer to the onion, it appears that someone at the Department of Homeland Security may have made edits to McCarthy and North Carolina Rep. Renee Ellmers’ Wikipedia pages, adding the affair to their bios


All in all, a crappy week for the man for Bakersfield, and we regret to add to his woes by giving him our #WorstWeekinCA award.