They characterize two vastly totally different Californias.
Nancy Pelosi’s covers 39 sq. miles of a legendarily liberal enclave. Kevin McCarthy’s is 9,898 sq. miles of farmland and suburban sprawl in one of many state’s most conservative strongholds.
After Tuesday’s election, the 2 Golden State politicians might give California unprecedented affect in Washington, D.C., as they vie to steer their respective events within the Home of Representatives. By no means earlier than have each the Democratic and Republican leaders within the chamber hailed from the identical state.
However that’s the place the widespread floor ends. Like America as an entire, deeply Democratic California options its personal Pink State-Blue State division. The 2 leaders — and their hometowns — completely embody the divide.
“Pelosi and McCarthy might be from the same state, but Bakersfield and Pacific Heights” — the tony hilltop neighborhood the place Pelosi lives — “could be different planets,” stated Republican strategist Rob Stutzman.
Greater than maybe another cities in California, San Francisco and Bakersfield discover themselves unfairly caricatured: left-wing loonies on one aspect, conservative hokies on the opposite. Whereas San Francisco likes to think about itself as the middle of the universe — The Metropolis, with a capital T and C — Bakersfield is aware of what it’s wish to be underestimated.
Pelosi and McCarthy — neither of whom agreed to an interview for this story — are ideological opposites and merchandise of their respective cities. Political observers doubt they’d forge a lot of a pro-California partnership in the event that they took the highest two jobs within the Home.
And in a microcosm of the division within the nation, individuals from their two cities really feel like they’re barely a part of the identical state.
From proper, Caleb Emerson, 44, and his sons Matthew, 11, and Joshua, 9, of Bakersfield, eat ice cream at Dewar’s Sweet Store in Bakersfield, California, on Wednesday, September 26, 2018. Caleb Emerson spoke to the Bay Space Information Group about his view of Bakersfield politics. (LiPo Ching/Bay Space Information Group)
On a current Wednesday afternoon at Dewar’s Sweet Store, an old-school Bakersfield ice cream parlor with pink swivel seats and a black-and-white checkerboard flooring that first opened in 1909, patrons stated they felt California was tilted too far in the direction of San Francisco.
In contrast to the Bay Space, “we’re out here working and getting oil all over us,” stated Caleb Emerson, 44, a Bakersfield native who was having fun with a root beer float together with his two younger sons. “Those who got to work hard want to keep what’s theirs and not give it away” in taxes.
Down the bar, property liquidator Laurie Weir bemoaned how the native agricultural and oil industries have been stifled by laws put in place by Bay Space politicians. “Maybe Nancy Pelosi needs to come be a farmer for two weeks and realize exactly how it all works,” she stated.
However others stated they thought McCarthy had shifted too far to the appropriate, and wished for extra center floor in California politics. “It feels like, like a lot of the Republicans, he’s selling his soul to stay in the party,” stated Amanda Swanson, a nurse who left the GOP out of disgust for Trump.
Vacationers stroll by means of Alamo Sq. Park in San Francisco, California, on Wednesday, October 10, 2018. (LiPo Ching/Bay Space Information Group)
What’s in it for California?
Pelosi, 78, and McCarthy, 53, are each generally known as shrewd political tacticians. They’re additionally among the many most prodigious fundraisers in American politics, raking in tens of tens of millions of dollars for allies.
Regardless of that, tensions inside every social gathering might scuttle each Californians’ possibilities to carry the speaker’s gavel.
Amongst Democrats, dozens of average candidates and incumbents across the nation have vowed to not help Pelosi, who has starred in GOP assault advertisements throughout America’s heartland since first being elected speaker in 2007.
Amongst Republicans, McCarthy has detractors on his social gathering’s proper flank who might block him from the highest job as Paul Ryan leaves workplace — one thing that occurred the final time McCarthy made a bid for Speaker in 2015. Whichever celebration loses management of the Home could possibly be particularly doubtless to decide on a recent face.
Former aides say Pelosi and McCarthy don’t have a really shut relationship — she’s dealt principally with Republican Audio system John Boehner and Paul Ryan.
And on lots of crucial points to California, the 2 have labored at cross-purposes. She orchestrated the passage of the Reasonably priced Care Act, whereas he labored to repeal it. She helped advocate for federal funding for California’s high-speed rail, whereas he’s urged the chief department to cancel the venture. And she or he’s denounced Trump at each flip, whereas McCarthy has turn into certainly one of his closest allies in Congress, lately introducing a invoice that may absolutely fund development of a U.S.-Mexico border wall, the president’s signature problem.
McCarthy has additionally voiced scorn for Pelosi’s nationwide unpopularity. “I kind of like Pelosi staying around,” he informed reporters after the 2016 election. “As long as she’s there, I think we stay in the majority.”
Nonetheless, the truth that McCarthy hails from California might harm him amongst his most conservative colleagues, stated Sherry Bebitch Jeffe, a political analyst on the College of Southern California.
“There’s always been this ABC movement — anybody but California — in the House of Representatives,” Jeffe stated. “If the Republican caucus was confronted with the possibility that California would own the two top leadership positions, that makes it harder for Kevin.”
Fairgoers benefit from the Kern County Truthful in Bakersfield, California, on Wednesday, September 26, 2018. (LiPo Ching/Bay Space Information Group)
Dwelling in SF’s ‘little bubble’
In fact, McCarthy’s hometown of Bakersfield is hardly the stereotypical picture of California. His district is the second-most Republican within the state. It’s a city the place native officers have objected to the sanctuary state regulation, the place President Trump gained a strong majority, and the place the preferred radio stations play nation music all day lengthy.
In Bakersfield, “you can run campaigns against San Francisco,” stated Matt Rexroad, a GOP strategist who’s labored for McCarthy and different Central Valley Republicans. One of the damaging slurs towards any candidate right here is that they’ve “San Francisco values.”
However, Rexroad stated, “I don’t think that many people in San Francisco can find Bakersfield on a map.”
That’s not such an exaggeration. In conversations final month, many San Franciscans stated they knew little about Bakersfield aside from it was conservative and relied on the agriculture business, though they weren’t essentially pleased with that.
Robin Menard, a 55-year-old doctor’s assistant, stated dwelling in San Francisco felt like being inside “a little bubble.”
“We are very progressive and we’re very forward thinking, but almost to the exclusion of other ideas,” she stated. “I have to consciously sort of step outside that — the last election was really a great reflection of that.”
San Francisco is “almost like a fairy tale” — lovely however out of attain for all however the rich, stated Raffaele Saposhnik, a 23-year-old advisor. “Bakersfield is a lot much more like the [rest of the] U.S., like the places in the south and the Midwest.”
Individuals stroll by way of the Embarcadero Middle in San Francisco, California, on Wednesday, October 10, 2018. (LiPo Ching/Bay Space Information Group)
Paths to energy
Not surprisingly, Pelosi and McCarthy adopted totally different paths to electoral politics, though they each launched their careers because of the assistance of native political machines.
Pelosi grew up in a political household in Maryland, the daughter of a Baltimore mayor who served in Congress. “She was stuffing envelopes for her father as a kid,” stated John Burton, a longtime Democratic chief within the Bay Space. “That’s where she learned her values, where she built her political skills.”
After shifting to San Francisco, she served key roles behind the scenes, chairing the state Democratic Celebration and serving to run the 1984 nationwide celebration conference within the metropolis. However she didn’t run for workplace till age 47, when she succeeded congresswoman Sala Burton, who endorsed Pelosi from her deathbed after battling most cancers in 1987. Pelosi gained an in depth particular election for her seat, regardless of opponents accusing the Burton household machine of orchestrating a “coronation.”
“None of us had any inkling she was going to run for office,” stated Artwork Torres, the previous chair of the California Democratic Social gathering and San Francisco politico. “But she’s an incredible campaigner.”
McCarthy’s household in Bakersfield often voted Democratic, his father a union firefighter. He confirmed an entrepreneurial shine from a younger age — investing $5,000 he gained within the lottery to start out a deli counter in his household’s frozen yogurt store — earlier than getting concerned in politics as an area intern for longtime congressman Invoice Thomas.
He criss-crossed the sprawling district representing Thomas, whereas additionally forging ties with different GOP rising stars as a pacesetter within the Younger Republican Nationwide Federation. He gained his first election to the area people school board in 2000 and then to the state meeting, the place he turned minority chief and was recognized for dealing throughout the aisle with the far bigger Democratic caucus. After Thomas retired in 2006, McCarthy moved as much as Congress.
“He was always very personable and well-liked from both sides of the aisle,” stated Dean Florez, a former Democratic state senator who would share a prop aircraft with McCarthy on the bumpy flight from Bakersfield to Sacramento. “He’s great at building relationships, and I think that’s a product of where he’s from.”
Invoice Hanson, 62, an engineer from Bakersfield, speaks to the Bay Space Information Group about Bakersfield politics on the Kern County Truthful in Bakersfield, California, on Wednesday, September 26, 2018. (LiPo Ching/Bay Space Information Group)
And positive sufficient, many citizens in each Bakersfield and San Francisco say they want to see McCarthy and Pelosi bridge the political divide and tone down the partisan tensions plaguing Washington. On the Kern County Truthful final month, Bakersfield engineer Invoice Hanson shook his head over how polarized the state had grown as he snacked on tater tots smothered in brisket, onions, cheese sauce and sriracha.
“Politics has become something like a team you support,” he stated, pointing to the Vikings jersey he was sporting. “They have their team in the Bay Area, and we have ours here… and it’s frustrating to watch.”