Politics

California Republicans have McCarthy’s back. For now.



It’s possible once delegates decamp from the convention and return to conservative TV overnight or AM talk radio in the morning, they will rally around Rep. Matt Gaetz’s (R-Fla.) effort to depose the speaker. But at a convention dominated by presidential campaign appearances and feuding over hot-button issues like abortion, the focus of grassroots Republicans here were barely attuned to the ins-and-outs of a blockbuster weekend in Washington.

And it isn’t because California Republicans are in the tank for their most prominent elected official. Though McCarthy has delivered money and high-wattage speakers to the state’s otherwise struggling party apparatus, the grassroots base is still leery of a politician who, in their view, personifies the establishment.

Woody Woodman, a San Diego delegate who was manning the California Tea Party booth, said he had more faith in conservative firebrands like Reps. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and Thomas Massie (R-Ky.). McCarthy was guilty of “going native” when he went to Washington, Woodman said.

Still, Woodman wasn’t outraged over the government funding vote. The push for a shutdown, he said, was not as clear-cut as some of McCarthy’s Washington antagonists made it out to be. While Woodman wanted spending to be slashed, he also chafed at the thought of members of the military potentially not getting a paycheck.

Mark Rizk, a delegate from Los Angeles, dismissed Gaetz’s anti-McCarthy crusade as “very petty and very immature and childish.”

“McCarthy is the speaker of the House, and he’s going to be speaker of the House until whenever the Democrats take back the House,” Rizk said.

As news surrounding the spending negotiations reached California, McCarthy was not without detractors. Rebekah Carlson, a party delegate from Yuba north of Sacramento, said her party should “grow a set of balls.” Frances Kay Marshall, a Republican from Los Angeles, said she thought McCarthy should be removed as speaker.

But even Marshall was far more passionate talking about critical race theory, transgender issues and former President Donald Trump’s appearance at the convention. The details of congressional machinations were of little interest.

“I haven’t really been watching and paying attention to what’s going on,” said Marshall, donning a sparkly gold ball gown and a pearl-encrusted captain’s hat that read ‘TRUMP.’ “A lot of my focus right now is with the California GOP.”

Where the focus was not was on McCarthy — even among Republicans here staking their political careers on winning over the conservative base.

Asked how McCarthy was viewed by the party, Denice Gary-Pandol, a Kern County political scientist who is running a long-shot bid for late Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s seat, paused and sighed before offering her assessment.

“I know Kevin loves our veterans,” she said. “He cares about veterans and that’s really a good thing.”



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