BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) – Tuesday was a historic day in Washington, D.C., where for the first time in exactly a century, the vote for Speaker of the House was not a perfunctory first-ballot formality, but an extended battle between warring factions of the Republican Party. 

Bakersfield’s Kevin McCarthy, was a number of votes shy of achieving a lifetime goal: Becoming speaker of the House and second in line of presidential succession. 

KGET took to the streets of Bakersfield for reaction from locals on the drama as it unfolded on Capitol Hill. While some rooted for McCarthy, others questioned the sincerity of his words over the past two years.

The almost-unanimous point of view of those we spoke to as the first-round of balloting was taking place was this: It would just be kind of cool to be able to say the Speaker of the House was your hometown guy.

So said Chad Richardson, who’d just stopped by Dagny’s Coffee Shop in downtown Bakersfield.

“I don’t know much about Kevin, but having him be the speaker would be pretty incredible for this town and Kern County in general,” Richardson said.

It would be like having a celebrity in our midst, said grad student Viviana Ramirez, who took a break from studying.

“We see that, like with stars, local athletes, stuff like that, so it’s intriguing, knowing someone’s from Bakersfield,” Ramirez said. “… Oh, he’s from here, that’s interesting.”

Mark Downing of Bakersfield wondered: Why stop at speaker?

“It’s a great plug for our city and I’m sure he’ll get it,” Downing said. “I mean, he always does. He should run for president, probably, eventually.”

Jim Smith was following the historic vote closely via blow-by-blow text message with his sister, Margaret Ann Moreno, who lives in L.A.

“She doesn’t trust him,” he said of his sister.

Doesn’t trust him? Why?

“You wanna call her and ask her?” Smith said. “We’ll put her on my phone and she can talk on the camera too. Hang on. Are we rolling still?”

It took a little convincing, but Smith’s sister – who was critical of McCarthy’s flip-flop on President Trump’s degree of culpability for Jan. 6, finally agreed to offer a prediction: McCarthy will not achieve his lifelong dream of becoming speaker.

“Maybe McCarthy will withdraw – he probably won’t – so they might vote for somebody else for speaker of the House,” she said.

Her brother said he had to agree: McCarthy has too much baggage, he said.

“Yeah, me and my brother agree on almost everything in the government the way it is now, in politics,” Moreno said.

The cumulative conclusion from this very small sample size? No conclusion; mixed emotions. While some in Bakersfield are proud of the fact that one of their own is in such a position, many others are realistic, knowing that this is a historic challenge.