With Congressman Kevin McCarthy’s selection as Majority Leader in Congress, the chance of McCarthy being a California gubernatorial or senatorial candidate soon has diminished.
McCarthy is a very capable politician and richly deserves his new post. He can be very helpful to California in Congress, as Kevin Klowden explains on this page today.
And, while the 2014 election hasn’t even been decided yet, some Republicans are looking ahead for prospective competitive candidates who can make a run at the big prizes of governor or senator when the opportunity arises. McCarthy was often mentioned as the prime Republican candidate for those posts.
Looking back at recent candidates for the top offices, Republicans must also consider a different way of doing business – building a field of perspective candidates who have held previous office. That is one of the goals of new state GOP chairman Jim Brulte.
California Republicans of late have often chosen candidates for the big offices who have not been elected to office before. Neel Kashkari is the latest in a string of GOP gubernatorial candidates who have eschewed elected office before going for the governor’s chair. Kashkari follows Meg Whitman, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Bill Simon as gubernatorial nominees. The last two Republican senatorial candidates were Elizabeth Emken and Carly Fiorina neither of whom held a previous office.
On the other hand, most Democratic candidates for the top offices come with an elected office pedigree. Jerry Brown wrote the book on winning elected office in California. When businessman Al Checchi and his big bankroll attempted to seek the governor’s chair on the Democratic side, Gray Davis bested him for the nomination with a campaign slogan: “Experience Money Can’t Buy.”
Of course, some candidates from outside the political world can make good candidates and do the job once in office. California particularly has call to support that conclusion since Ronald Reagan successfully went from a non-political career into the governor’s office and beyond.
When looking around for someone who might run for governor Kevin McCarthy’s name was frequently mentioned. There was the caveat that questioned whether McCarthy would leave the comfort of a seemingly safe congressional seat for the uncertainty of a race for governor in a decidedly blue state. But he was on lists as the most likely candidate.
Now with the Majority Leader position in hand and the Speaker of the House position a possibility someday, coming back for a difficult run in California seems unlikely.
But there is a lot of political road to travel before we get to future big races. Let’s deal with the 2014 election first.