Bill Thomas

Central Valley sees hope in Rep. Kevin McCarthy's potential rise

Central Valley sees hope in Rep. Kevin McCarthy's potential rise

Every so often, Rep. Kevin McCarthy tosses out a catch phrase that's popular in this southern tip of the San Joaquin Valley: "Once a Driller, always a Driller."

It's a hometown high school thing. McCarthy played football for the Bakersfield High School Drillers. It's also a not-too-subtle message that the Republican congressman remembers where he came from — a gritty town built by ranchers and roughnecks, and bypassed by big city folks speeding along Interstate 5.

With McCarthy the odds-on favorite to succeed John A. Boehner as speaker of the House of Representatives, an ascension that would make him one of the most powerful politicians in the nation, friends...

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