McCarthy steps down from office

Former House speaker announces decision to retire two months after being ousted as Speaker of the House of Representatives

Kevin McCarthy United States Representative
Darren Fraser
Published December 12, 2023  • 
10:00 am

WASHINGTON D.C. – Bakersfield congressman Kevin McCarthy has decided to step down from his post as California’s 20th Representative for Congress. 

The Valley congressman made his announcement on Dec. 6. McCarthy arrived in the House of Representatives in 2007 after serving in the California Assembly. During his time in the House, McCarthy served as majority whip. After Republicans took control of the House, McCarthy was elected speaker in January 2023 – but not without difficulty.

McCarthy’s nomination required four days of voting and 15 ballots. To secure his nomination, the beleaguered Republican from Bakersfield made concessions to the ultra conservative Freedom Caucus. To prevent a government shutdown, McCarthy had to appease Democrats. These latter concessions spelled his doom.

On Oct. 9, spearheaded by Florida Congress Member Matt Gaetz, McCarthy became the first Speaker of the House in history to be voted out of office. Not a single Democrat voted to keep McCarthy in office.

In an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, McCarthy wrote, “It often seems that the more Washington does, the worse America gets. I started my career as a small-business owner, and I look forward to helping entrepreneurs and risk-takers reach their full potential. The challenges we face are more likely to be solved by innovation than legislation.”

He added, “No matter the odds, or personal cost, we did the right thing. That may seem out of fashion in Washington these days, but delivering results for the American people is still celebrated across the country.

“It is in this spirit that I have decided to depart the House at the end of this year to serve America in new ways. I know my work is only getting started.”

LEGACY

Like all things legacy, time will be the judge. McCarthy’s Republican detractors claim he was not MAGA enough; even saying he was a RINO (Republican in name only). Liberal critics claim he was without backbone and was willing to do anything to remain in office.

In an opinion piece in The New York Times, Michelle Cottle wrote, “Amiable and nonthreatening, the sunny Californian had long used his people skills to make allies and build the coalitions needed to realize his goals. He was a top-notch schmoozer and formidable fund-raiser, all of which helped him ease his way up the political ladder and into House leadership. But the man’s fundamental hollowness clung to him like poop on a shoe, prompting many of his more ideological compatriots to distrust him.”

McCarthy, of course, takes a different view. In the Journal article, he wrote, “We reduced the deficit by more than $2 trillion, revamped work requirements for adults on the sidelines, cut red tape for critical domestic energy projects, and protected the full faith and credit of the U.S. We kept our government operating and our troops paid while wars broke out around the world.”

REPUBLICAN EXODUS

In the article, McCarthy wrote, “I will continue to recruit our country’s best and brightest to run for elected office. The Republican Party is expanding every day, and I am committed to lending my experience to support the next generation of leaders.”

Despite McCarthy’s optimism, reports indicate the Republican Party is not expanding but, rather, contracting.

A Dec. 5 article in USA Today notes that nearly a dozen House Republicans announced in October and November that they will retire from office at the end of their terms. Patrick Henry, N.C., who filled in as interim speaker following McCarthy’s ouster, said he will not run for re-election in 2024.

According to the article, while many of the House members cited personal reasons for not running, some said they had had enough of Washington politics.

Colorado Republican Ken Buck announced his retirement on X, formerly Twitter. Buck said, “Too many Republican leaders are lying to America, claiming that the 2020 election was stolen, describing January 6 as an unguided tour of the Capitol and asserting that the ensuing prosecutions are a weaponization of our justice system.”

Other incumbents pointed to problems larger than partisan politics. Retiring Arizona Republican Debbie Lesko said, “Right now, Washington, D.C. is broken; it is hard to get anything done.”

Darren Fraser
Reporter