Sep 23, 2009

Interview with Congressman Kevin McCarthy

Last week, I sat down on a couple occasions with US Representative Kevin McCarthy. Kevin represents the 22nd District of California in the Congress and serves as the Chief Deputy Whip for the Republicans in the House under the leadership of Whip Eric Cantor. You will recall that we interviewed Eric a couple months ago for this blog.

Both Eric and Kevin are members of a group called "Young Guns," and our conversation dealt mainly with this entity, its goals and the progress that is being made in meeting those goals.

Kevin was in town stumping for my boss's re-election campaign.

If you are not yet familiar with Kevin, my bet is you will be in the years to come.

He is most impressive in his approach to politics and to Republican efforts to take back control of the Congress.

In November of 2008, Newsweek magazine called McCarthy one of the GOP's "most persuasive compelling members." Roll Call newspaper named him the 110th Congress' "Rookie of the Year," and the Weekly Standard dubbed him "the strategist" behind the young guns movement in the House GOP.

An entrepreneur prior to coming to Congress, before his 21st birthday, Kevin started and sold a deli business. That respect for the free enterprise system is evident in his talks and speeches today.

Kevin and his wife, Judy, have two children and Kevin travels home each weekend to California (a 13 hour flight ordeal).

In my conversations with Kevin, I was struck by his Gingrich-like quality of methodically planning the logistics and strategy behind otherwise routine party building activities. Activities like candidate recruitment.

In addition to his duties as an elected official, Kevin is the appointed Recruitment Chairman for the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) and when we spoke, he had just completed a recruitment tour that took him from Illinois to Iowa, to NC and then on to Tennessee. This was his second such whirlwind recruitment effort in recent months and he shared his passion for recruiting quality "fresh faces" from around the country to run for Congress.

To assist in the formerly ad hoc candidate recruitment process, Kevin set up up a three step process whereby potential candidates are identified and groomed to advance to full blown candidate status for office. Each step comes with a designation: The first is the "On the Radar" candidate, the second is the "Contender" candidate and the final and strongest designation is the "Young Gun." This designation process is fluid and a potential candidate can move from one designation to the other. The goal is to find fresh faced people, identify them and get their interest in running (On the Radar), work with their strategy and fundraising goals to achieve a certain level of credibility (Contender) and then assist them with the resources they need to go full blown into the campaign as the Republican front runner (Young Gun).

Over 80 seats are currently targeted nationwide by the Young Guns and 53 already have qualified Republican candidates identified and in the process of setting up their races.

This is good news for us Republicans. The level of planning and strategy I saw in Kevin, and Eric Cantor when he was down earlier in the year, encourages me that we are in good hands and have a chance to take back the House over time.

I was equally impressed with Kevin's embrace of technology and he shared with me some of the activities he is involved with in terms of transitioning the Republican members into this arena. By the way, be on the lookout for a Young Guns website in the very near future. Think of a Conservative version of ActBlue. Stay tuned.

I would not be surprised if Kevin is the new GOP Whip one day or higher. If you don't know him now, you will one day.

PS -If you like book recommendations, Kevin (a voracious reader) recommends the following four books:

The World is Flat

Good to Great

Money Ball

The Next Hundred Years

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