Why Ryan as VP Could Be Big for Bakersfield

Mitt Romney's apparent vice presidential pick, Congressman Paul Ryan, is from Wisconsin. But Ryan's elevation could be good news for one California city.

Mitt Romney's pick for vice president, Congressman Paul Ryan, is from Janesville, Wisconsin. But his selection could be very good news for Bakersfield, California.

What am I talking about?

I'm talking about Kevin McCarthy.

McCarthy, a congressman from Bakersfield, was one of the founders of the House Republican "Young Guns' program, to recruit GOP candidates. Another founder was Ryan. When the program worked and the Republicans took back the House in 2010, Ryan was elevated into Republican leadership. So was McCarthy.

The Bakersfield Congressman is already majority whip in the house. And he was seen as likely to advance to a higher post, perhaps majority leader, when and if the current House Speaker John Boehner were to leave. But the current majority leader, Eric Cantor, and Ryan, who is much better known, seemed to be in better position to move up and become speaker.

Romney, by picking Ryan, improves McCarthy's position by eliminating one potential competitor. (One caveat: It's not clear if Ryan will continue to seek re-election to his House seat concurrently with running for vice president; if he gives up the seat, or if the Romney-Ryan ticket wins, the path is much clearer).

So the California angle on the Ryan pick amounts to this: we are a whole lot closer to having a house speaker from Bakersfield.

Though that wouldn't make McCarthy the most prominent politician from that town. Earl Warren, the California governor and Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, was from Bakersfield too.

Lead Prop Zero blogger Joe Mathews is California editor at Zocalo Public Square, a fellow at Arizona State University’s Center for Social Cohesion, and co-author of California Crackup: How Reform Broke the Golden State and How We Can Fix It (University of California, 2010).

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