Thinking about the 2020 election, it strikes us how rare it would be if consecutive speakers of the House were from California.
But with the Democratic majority in Congress narrowing and the GOP with some momentum headed into 2022, there is the possibility that Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield, would be first in line if presumptive Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, has to surrender her gavel.
This fact, perhaps more than anything, frames the current state of play for McCarthy, who has aligned himself with President Donald Trump and, at least when we went to press, declined to go as far as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in acknowledging that Joe Biden is the next president.
To gain the speakership McCarthy will have to placate extreme elements in his caucus—something his mentor John Boehner found difficult. Moreover, there are two new GOP representatives who are sympathetic with the QAnon conspiracy, something that again, McCarthy has declined to disavow.
What happens in the coming weeks and months with the GOP caucus will have a great deal of bearing on how effective Congress can be in the next session. We suspect that it will take bipartisan votes from moderate voices in the Problem Solvers Caucus and like-minded groups to move forward on fiscal stimulus and, further down the road, fiscal reform.
However, the political calendar advances quickly and as the Biden administration begins to take over, McCarthy will have a narrow window of time to sort out his caucus and map a plan that has to be more than “stop the steal.” McCarthy earned his spot because he can appeal to a broad base of the GOP, but how he navigates between the QAnon crowd and the Problem Solvers in his caucus will be key to funding a successful House GOP takeover.
When billionaire conservative Charles Koch starts talking about bipartisanship and pundits like Karl Rove urge the party to accept the 2020 result and move on, times have changed.
Finally, there is California. While social media companies are grabbing lots of headlines, our space research, energy research and medical breakthroughs are second to none. As minority leader and, perhaps someday as speaker, McCarthy should not lose sight of all the advantages that California has bestowed on the nation and the world.
CSUCI IN GOOD INTERIM HANDS
The CSU system took a step toward replacing outgoing CSU Channel Islands President Erika Beck when it named Richard Yao, vice president of student affairs, as interim president.
Yao, who will serve through June 2022, has a history of working with Beck, who will be departing in January to helm CSU Northridge. He joined her from Nevada State University when she took over the Camarillo campus in 2018.
Yao is of Filipino and Chinese descent and becomes the first person of color to lead a Ventura County four-year institution. He also received his doctorate from Fielding Graduate University in Santa Barbara, which further strengthens his ties to the region.
CSU Chancellor Tim White has made a sound choice in picking Yao to bring continuity to the campus. It also provides a sufficient runway for selecting a permanent replacement for Beck, a task that will require thought and community input.