When a handful of uber-right Republicans forced Speaker Kevin McCarthy out, they may have doomed GOP chances of retaining marginal seats in California and thus control of the House.
McCarthy, whose district is centered in Bakersfield, made winning seats in his native state a high priority, recruiting candidates and supplying them with whatever money they needed. It paid off last year when Republicans won back four of the seven California districts they had lost during the 2020 presidential election and, by some analyses, provided McCarthy with the narrow margin he needed to become speaker.
The current count is 221 Republicans and 212 Democrats with two vacancies, so it wouldn’t take much for the latter to regain the majority they had held for many years prior to 2022.
The GOP victory forced long-serving Speaker Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco to cede the gavel to McCarthy, her arch-rival from 250 miles to the southeast. However its narrowness compelled McCarthy to make concessions to the right-wing to be elected speaker after the election – procedural changes that ultimately led to his ouster.
About the Author
Dan Walters has been a journalist for nearly 60 years, spending all but a few of those years working for California newspapers. He began his professional career in 1960, at age 16, at the Humboldt Times. CalMatters is a public interest journalism venture committed to explaining how California’s state Capitol works and why it matters. For more columns by Dan Walters, go to calmatters.org/commentary.
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