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Two Californias Clash in a Divided House: Pelosi Versus McCarthy

Jamie Stiehm on

WASHINGTON -- It's a first in American history: The speaker of the House and the minority leader hail from the same state. But they barely speak.

Two Californias dwell and dominate in the House of Representatives. The party leaders, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., live in diametrically opposed worlds within the same state: the blue coastal liberals versus the rural inland "empire," largely red.

I know, coming from California, that Pelosi and McCarthy perfectly reflect her San Francisco and his Bakersfield. They are connected by a long ride on Interstate 5, cutting through the heart of the state.

This tension is not the known Northern versus Southern California culture rift, but the deep political fault lines between East and West in the Golden State.

The twain are getting farther apart. Seldom have House party leaders so openly scorned each other. McCarthy refers to Pelosi as a "lame-duck speaker." The House is so evenly divided -- a few votes apart -- the balance of power could change in a few heartbeats.

The drama between Pelosi and McCarthy plays out in the full House over burning issues: the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol and COVID-19.

 

After first stating then-President Donald Trump "bears responsibility" for directing the armed mob, McCarthy deflected blame from him, even suggesting the speaker was responsible for the spectacular security breakdown.

This was an unkind cut, given the pack was hunting her.

So, let's set the scene between the two players. Days ago, Pelosi was overheard saying McCarthy is "a moron" in the thick of summer heat and partisan battle.

McCarthy then told donors Sunday it would be "hard not to hit" Pelosi with the speaker's gavel if he captures it. Very nice to threaten violence.

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