BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) – Tuesday’s historic showdown on Capitol Hill was met with mixed reviews from folks here at home. There was disappointment, there was celebration, and then there were a number of people surveyed shortly after Kevin McCarthy’s oust as Speaker of the House who said just having a local person up on the national stage had been something to be proud of.
Even some Democrats said there’s something kind of cool about living in the hometown of such a high-profile man. So, even among opponents, there was a tinge of disappointment.
Supporters, however, were crushed.
The news was so fresh, many hadn’t heard about it yet. Al Garcia, a McCarthy supporter, was at the car wash when he got the news. He was disappointed.
“Wow,” he said. “He just got canned? Who’s gonna replace him? That doesn’t make any sense.”
Julie Hansen, a Democrat, also wondered who would take the job given the influence of the Republican Party’s right wing.
“All of them are in cahoots,” she said, “trying to get this extreme right-wing version of somebody in there. And that’s what they want, to be in control. and I don’t think they’ve done a good thing. I mean, Kevin might not have been their man, but they need somebody.”
Retired trucking company administrator Mark Duffle said McCarthy’s ouster demonstrates just how divided the country is right now. McCarthy showed very little willingness to work with Democrats — but even that was too much for his Republican detractors.
“You’re accusing him of doing what they’re supposed to do, which is work across the aisle and create compromises to run the government,” he said. “So you have this group of people who currently have enough power to essentially say, ‘It’s my way or the highway.’”
Car dealership owner Kathy Evans said McCarthy should just turn around and insert himself back in the speaker discussion.
“He should run again,” she said. “He should. I hope he does.”
But an hour later, McCarthy reportedly told colleagues that wasn’t going to happen. Which leaves who exactly?
“I don’t even see anybody that is stepping up wanting the job,” he said. “It’s certainly not going to be one of the seven, right?”
That is almost certainly the case.
McCarthy’s popularity may have run dry, but Matt Gaetz, et al, have done nothing to ingratiate themselves to the rest of the Republican conference.
The dysfunction and drama that have plagued the House since McCarthy’s 15-ballot victory back in January may continue to remain with us for some time to come.