Mark Abernathy, a local political consultant to hundreds of successful Republican candidates, died Saturday at the age of 75.
The enduring legacy of Mark Abernathy was on display Monday as young workers and volunteers manned the phones at Abernathy’s political consulting firm, Western Pacific Research.
His wife and political partner Cathy Abernathy explained her husband found purpose in politics.
“If there’s just one person that Mark turned [his] life around, that’s super but I think the people he elected are helping turn around this country and so that’s what he’s most proud of,” explained Abernathy.
An avid St. Louis Cardinals fan, Abernathy was born in Illinois in 1942 and grew up on a farm.
Abernathy served as a Captain in the Air Force during the Vietnam War before moving to Kern County in 1981.
In California, Abernathy made his name in politics.
“Probably the largest achievement was the recall of Governor Gray Davis,” explained Abernathy.
That early 2000’s recall effort would lead to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.
But his lasting impact came with local republican politicians.
“[House Majority Leader] Kevin McCarthy, [State Senator] Jean Fuller, [former Assemblymember Shannon Grove, [Bakersfield] Mayor [Karen] Goh, former Mayor Bob Price years ago, [Congressman] Bill Thomas, all these candidates and politicians that this state recognizes are the cream of the crop,” said Abernathy of the politicians her husband advised.
Congressman McCarthy on Sunday called Abernathy a “mentor” and “close and trusted friend” adding he “is leaving this community, state, and country a better place.”
Shannon Grove, a former Assemblymember and current state senate candidate shared what she believed made Abernathy successful.
“He led by three things: he said it has to be truthful, it has to be fair and it has to be relevant. And those were the three things that he really focused on,” explained Grove.
That focus was in addition to faith, family, and the next campaign.
“One staff [member] reminded me today that if someone came in late, during the campaign or said they couldn’t come in that day, he’d say, “Oh did they move the election? Because if they did then ok, but if they didn’t you’re coming in,'” recalled Abernathy with a smile.
Abernathy died after a brief illness and he is survived by his wife and two daughters.