Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on
 

Five things to know about Kevin McCarthy, the new House majority leader

By Halimah Abdullah, CNN
updated 3:59 PM EDT, Thu June 19, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Kevin McCarthy, R-California, elected by peers as the No. 2 GOP leader in the House
  • Kevin Spacey reportedly shadowed McCarthy to prep for the lead on "House of Cards"
  • McCarthy once used the $5,000 he won in a lottery to open a deli to help pay for college
  • His meteoric rise might be hindered by immigration positions

Washington (CNN) -- Rep. Kevin McCarthy's election to the No. 2 Republican leadership position in the House was expected by politicos, but this Californian's back story is full of plot twists.

Here are five things you might not know about him:

1. Role model: Actor Kevin Spacey reportedly shadowed McCarthy to prepare for his role as Majority Whip Frank Underwood in the Netflix series "House of Cards." Unlike the duplicitous and murderous Underwood, McCarthy is considered by colleagues to be an affable guy who often invites members to his office to discuss their woes and share takeout food. Still, there are a few similarities. McCarthy once told reporters at the Sacramento Press Club that Underwood's office knickknacks and d├ęcor look quite familiar.

2. Funding his future: McCarthy married his high school sweetheart and opened a deli with $5,000 he won in the lottery. According to the Orange County Register, an old menu shows the future politico once served up "fresh Dutch Krunch white rolls every day." He used the money to help pay his way through California State University, Bakersfield.

The real 'House of Cards'
Who gains for Cantor's loss?
Clear path expected for Kevin McCarthy
Cantor defends immigration support

3. Rapid rise: His political ascent has been meteoric. His boss, former House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Bill Thomas, endorsed the young staffer to replace him in 2006. Since then, he's cruised through every re-election and used his charm, intellect and savvy, friends say, to climb through the House GOP's leadership ranks. Seven years after he first took office, he's now considered the front-runner for the majority leader's job.

4. Workouts and flip-flops: He's a workout buff who, in his spare time, dons the West Coast casual look. At Wednesday's annual softball game between women members of Congress and the media, McCarthy was spotted wearing linen slacks and flip-flops. He reportedly enjoys riding his bike along Rock Creek Park's trails in Washington or working up a sweat to P90X, much like Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin.

5. Immigration views could be problematic: Like Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Virginia, the outgoing House majority leader, McCarthy has a nuanced position on immigration that could lead to some showdowns with both conservatives and pro-immigration reform advocates. Businesses in his district depend heavily on immigrant labor to work the fertile farmland. His district is also 35% Hispanic, and pro-immigration organizations have vowed to ramp up the pressure on McCarthy to address reform.

Complete coverage of the 2014 midterm elections

House Republicans elect McCarthy to take Cantor's job

Part of complete coverage on
See the full results for who won the Senate, House and governor midterm elections.
updated 9:26 PM EST, Wed November 5, 2014
Attention Hillary Clinton, Jeb Bush, Rand Paul, Chris Christie, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and everyone else "seriously considering" a run for president.
updated 6:18 PM EST, Thu November 6, 2014
You know that Republican doctor who got one of his patients pregnant and then demanded that she get an abortion? Yeah, he won.
updated 3:20 PM EST, Wed November 5, 2014
The 2014 midterm elections brought a historic victory for Republicans, handing the GOP its largest congressional majority since World War II.
updated 10:10 AM EST, Wed November 5, 2014
It was a tough night for Democrats -- who will be looking for a leader for 2016 -- and a big night for the GOP -- who may have a few more names to consider.
updated 10:43 AM EST, Wed November 5, 2014
A Republican tide ripped the Senate away from Democrats, giving the GOP full control of Congress and the power to pin down President Obama.
updated 9:47 PM EST, Tue November 4, 2014
The House of Representatives remained solidly in Republican hands after Tuesday's midterm election.
updated 7:22 AM EST, Wed November 5, 2014
Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell has won re-election in Kentucky, staving off Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes, according to a CNN projection.
updated 2:06 AM EST, Wed November 5, 2014
Sen. Ted Cruz lauded the Republican Senate takeover, but shied away from endorsing Sen. Mitch McConnell to lead the new majority.
updated 11:31 AM EST, Wed November 5, 2014
CNN asked commentators for views on the results of the midterm elections, in which the GOP took back the Senate and retained control of the House.
updated 8:17 PM EST, Wed November 5, 2014
South Carolina's Tim Scott became the first African-American senator to win election in the South since Reconstruction.
updated 2:39 PM EST, Wed November 5, 2014
Voters in Oregon and D.C. have voted to approve sweeping pro-marijuana legalization while voters in Florida gave the thumbs down.
updated 7:59 AM EST, Wed November 5, 2014
Republicans continued their dominance of governor's mansions when a number of GOP leaders fought off stiff challenges from Democrats.
updated 11:14 PM EST, Tue November 4, 2014
Republican David Perdue has won the race for Georgia's U.S. Senate seat occupied by retiring GOP Sen. Saxby Chambliss.
updated 1:09 AM EST, Wed November 5, 2014
First-term Democratic incumbent North Carolina Sen. Kay Hagan lost in a tight contest against GOP challenger Thom Tillis.
updated 10:09 PM EST, Tue November 4, 2014
Republican Rep. Tom Cotton has defeated Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor in Arkansas, according to a CNN projection.
updated 7:20 AM EST, Wed November 5, 2014
Louisiana won't know which candidate will represent the state in the next Congress until December.
updated 7:21 AM EST, Wed November 5, 2014
Republican Scott Brown lost his second Senate race in two election cycles, failing to unseat Sen. Jeanne Shaheen in New Hampshire.
updated 7:51 AM EST, Wed November 5, 2014
Former Gov. Charlie Crist conceded Florida's close gubernatorial race against GOP Gov. Rick Scott.
updated 6:49 PM EST, Tue November 4, 2014
A majority of Americans are dissatisfied with President Obama's administration and GOP leaders, according to exit polls released and analyzed by CNN.
updated 9:47 PM EST, Tue November 4, 2014
Take a look around the country in our gallery as America votes.
Who's giving to outside groups? It's not just candidates and parties spending the cash.
ADVERTISEMENT