From The Business Journals
It’s official: Kevin McCarthy, who has been the Republicans’ No. 2 leader in the House, announced his candidacy Monday afternoon to succeed John Boehner as House Speaker.
Although he’s served in Congress for only nine years, McCarthy is the overwhelming favorite to win the job, and his only announced opponent so far is Rep. Daniel Webster, R-Fla. He has good relations with most Republicans (he recruited many of them to run for office) and he said the right things in his announcement:
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (right) has been House Speaker John Boehner’s second-in-command since Eric Cantor was defeated in a 2014 Republican primary.
“I know that the People’s House works best when the leadership you elect listens to members and respects the legislative process entrusted to committees,” McCarthy said. “But I am also sensitive to what is happening outside of the Beltway. I want us to be much closer to the people we represent, and I want them to once again feel like this is their government, they are in charge, and we are here to serve them.”
Here are four things business owners and executives should know about the 50-year-old congressman from Bakersfield, California:
1. He was a young entrepreneur who didn’t care about rules
I learned about McCarthy’s business career back in 2012, when he spoke to an American Action Forum event at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida.
After high school, he opened a sandwich shop with $5,000 he won in the California Lottery. But before that, he bought and sold cars with the help of a liquor store owner who had a car dealer’s license.
“Now technically, I don’t know if it was legal, but, you know, I’m being an entrepreneur,” McCarthy said. “I’m doing this to put my way through college.”
Business owners may appreciate McCarthy’s impatience with regulatory hassles — and his honesty. But it was still a little surprising to hear a lawmaker be so flippant about ignoring laws just because they’re inconvenient.
2. He’s opposed to reauthorizing the Export-Import Bank
Supporters of the Export-Import Bank better hope that Boehner pushes the export credit agency’s reauthorization through before he steps down at the end of October, because McCarthy is no fan of the program.
Ex-Im Bank hasn’t been able to provide any new financing for export sales by U.S. companies since July 1, when its charter expired. McCarthy opposes renewing the agency’s charter, agreeing with conservatives who think the government shouldn’t be involved in these transactions.
“The private sector can do it,” McCarthy told Fox News Sunday in June 2012.
Many business groups, however, contend that many foreign buyers require that their purchases be financed by export credit agencies, and that U.S. companies risk losing sales to competitors who are back by their countries’ versions of the Ex-Im Bank.
3. He represents a heavily Hispanic, agricultural district
Supporters of comprehensive immigration reform hoped they could win over McCarthy since his Central Valley district is 35 percent Hispanic and is heavily agricultural.
But McCarthy wasn’t there for them when it mattered — in 2013, when the Senate passed comprehensive immigration reform legislation and Boehner declined to even bring it up for a vote in the House. McCarthy has said he favors a path to legal status for undocumented workers who meet certain conditions, but that doesn’t include full-blown citizenship.
While some Latino leaders hope McCarthy will push harder for immigration reform than Boehner did, a New York onion farmer who has been pushing for the legislation is skeptical.
“Though McCarthy’s district has a large number of Latinos and is heavily agricultural, I find it hard to believe that the forces that drove Boehner out will allow any sort of immigration reform legislation to go to the House floor,” Chris Pawelski told Fox News Latino.
4. He’s got Hollywood connections
Kevin Spacey turned to McCarthy to help him prepare for the role of House Majority Whip Frank Underwood on Netflix’s “House of Cards.” and they’ve remained friends.
When Spacey asked him how much he twists arms in order to get members to vote leadership’s way, McCarthy said he told the actor that he says to members, “You vote your district, you vote your conscience, you just don’t surprise me.”
“And he stole that line for the show,” McCarthy told People magazine.
McCarthy also was on hand for the music industry’s Grammys on the Hill celebration this year, hobnobbing with the likes of Alicia Keys. Bakersfield isn’t Los Angeles, but it was famous for its own sound back in the day, giving us Merle Haggard and Buck Owens.