Whether Pelosi or McCarthy, California reigns supreme

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) remains the favorite to win the race for House Speaker in the election this week – hoping to take over from fellow Californian Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).

In fact, what’s most striking about this week’s contest as the new Congress takes office — with a narrow GOP majority in the House, holding just 222 seats to the Democrats’ 213 — is that the California will likely remain at the top.

That’s partly because California has the most seats in Congress, with 52 — even after one was deducted after the 2020 census. But even holding around 12% of the seats doesn’t guarantee the gavel.

The anomaly of a California holding power is also interesting given that the state is arguably the most left-leaning jurisdiction in the United States. Several other “blue” states come close, but California remains the most extreme. On January 1, a series of sweeping new laws took effect, including one making the state a “sanctuary” for child sex-change drugs and surgery. California Democrats are proud to lead the country’s political left.

Pelosi represents San Francisco, the leftmost part of the leftmost state. She or her constituents cannot be said to represent the nation as a whole. Moreover, if his city is among the richest in the United States, it is also the most dysfunctional. The “sewer geysers” that erupted this week during heavy rains are a symbol of the city’s failures. For critics, San Francisco is the example of left-wing political catastrophe.

McCarthy represents parts of Kern and Tulare counties, the part of California that is more like the rest of the United States. It is an oil-producing region, bustling with working-class residents and with an increasingly diverse population. But as a California Republican, McCarthy is essentially powerless in his own state. Its political home in no way represents the party as a whole. He has not obtained anything for several decades.

Either way, the apparent continuity between Pelosi and McCarthy reveals that California will always have an outsized role in American governance – just as it will always occupy a central place in the American imagination.

Joel B. Pollak is editor of Breitbart News and host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot Sunday nights from 7-10 p.m. ET (4-7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the recent e-book Neither Free Nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. His latest book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is the winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.


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