Kevin McCarthy

As GOP leader in the Calif. House, Kevin McCarthy gave flowers to spouses and rewarded lawmakers for touch votes. (Drew Angerer/EPA)

Politics

By Aaron C. Davis
June 21, 2014 at 7:56 PM

During his first year as the Republican leader in the California State Assembly, Kevin McCarthy sent flowers to the wife of a fellow GOP lawmaker in honor of the couple’s anniversary. The woman called her husband gushing over the bouquet — only to learn that he did not deserve the credit.

“I had to admit, ‘Honey, I didn’t send those,’ ” recalled former assemblyman Mike Villines, who was McCarthy’s whip in the Assembly.

The exchange, more than a decade ago, was an early indicator of the personal touches that have fueled McCarthy’s rapid political rise from back-bench freshman in Sacramento in 2002 to Congress in 2006 to, now, the second-highest job in the U.S. House — in only his fourth term.

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