Breaking News Emails
House Republicans just elected two new members of their leadership team. So who are these men, and how did they get the job?
Rep. Kevin McCarthy, House Majority Leader
He’s an amiable Californian, a former deli owner-turned-political star, and he’s the man who'll succeed departing House Majority Leader Eric Cantor.
Before being elected Majority Leader Thursday, Kevin McCarthy had already risen to the third most powerful spot in the Republican-led House since being elected in 2006. A native of Bakersfield, Calif., he’s been immersed in politics and policy since before even finishing college, when he sold “Kevin O’s Deli,” a sandwich shop he founded with money he won from a scratch-off lottery ticket. After serving in several local posts and the state Assembly, he was elected to the House at the age of 40, becoming one of the founders of the Republican “Young Guns” group.
So what made McCarthy one of the fastest-rising politicos of his party, and how did he slide easily into a job as House Speaker John Boehner’s top lieutenant even amid a barrage of headlines about the Republican civil war on the Hill?
Part of his success is simple – people like the guy.
A laid-back West Coaster with a hilarious Instagram feed, McCarthy has a reputation as an approachable mediator who listens to colleagues and doesn't shy away from helping his fellow members when the chips are down.
Even conservatives who might be prone to griping about what they call too much moderation from Boehner’s leadership team praise McCarthy’s style.
South Carolina Rep. Mick Mulvaney said last week that while McCarthy’s “not as conservative as I want him to be,” his team and the congressman himself are notably “easy to work with.”
“I always felt like I had the chance to voice my opinions with Kevin,” he told NBC News. “It’s not going to be a dramatic departure from Cantor, but it might be a little be more easy going.”
It doesn’t hurt that he’s also an excellent – and generous - fundraiser.
His leadership PAC has hauled in $1.4 million so far this year, doling out contributions to over 80 Republican colleagues, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. In 2012, he gave a total of $1.2 million to almost 200 GOP candidates.
Rep. Steve Scalise, House Majority Whip
Rep. Steve Scalise, first elected in 2008, has been a registered Republican since the day he turned 18.
Growing up in the suburbs of New Orleans, the son of a real estate salesman father and homemaker mom was involved in politics from an early age. That core has held; a National Journal ranking of the most conservative members of the House found him tied for fourth place out of the entire GOP field.
While McCarthy and House Speaker John Boehner hail from states that voted for Obama in 2008 and 2012, Scalise’s Louisiana roots will make him the lone southerner among Boehner’s primary lieutenants.
As the head of the Republican Study Committee, a group of the most conservative members of the House, he’ll also have a keen sense of what the Tea Party-affiliated lawmakers want from House policy.
NBC's Frank Thorp contributed to this story.