On Politics: Nancy Pelosi and Kevin McCarthy are as different as the two Californias they represent

Congressional leaders Kevin McCarthy, second from left, and Nancy Pelosi, accompanying French President Emmanuel Macron, center, as he prepares to address Congress, represent vastly different constituencies.
(J. Scott Applewhite / Associated Press)

Kevin McCarthy and Nancy Pelosi may stand political poles apart but, together, the two California lawmakers are on the verge of making history.

If, as seems likely, McCarthy becomes the next Republican House leader and Pelosi continues as head of the Democratic caucus, it would mark the first time the congressional leaders of both parties hail from the same state.

Which of the two would reign as speaker, as opposed to minority leader, depends on the outcome of November’s midterm elections and whether each withstands a potential challenge in his or her own ranks.


The prospect of two Californians — McCarthy from Bakersfield and Pelosi from San Francisco — leading their respective parties on Capitol Hill would suggest unparalleled clout for the state, save for the fact the two often work at political cross-purposes.

McCarthy, 53, fought to repeal the Affordable Care Act — also known as Obamacare — which Pelosi was instrumental in passing. She fiercely opposed President Trump’s sweeping tax cut bill, which McCarthy helped usher into law.

Pelosi, 78, supports the proposed San Francisco-to-Los Angeles bullet train, while McCarthy staunchly opposes it.

Both reflect the city they represent. McCarthy, deeply conservative. Pelosi, unreservedly liberal. Indeed, although a mere 300 miles separate them, Bakersfield and San Francisco may as well occupy different planets.

Think Buck Owens vs. Jello Biafra, agriculture vs. high-tech, or a 72-degree August day in San Francisco when it’s a broiling 97 in Bakersfield.

Here’s a tale of their two cities:



Bakersfield: 376,000

San Francisco: 884,000

Land area

Bakersfield: 151 square miles

San Francisco: 47 square miles

Population density

(Residents per square mile)

Bakersfield: 2,600

San Francisco: 18,700

Median age

Bakersfield: 30

San Francisco: 38

Life As It Should Be

— Bakersfield’s official motto

Median income

Bakersfield: $59,000

San Francisco $104,000

Average hourly wage


Bakersfield: $22.79

San Francisco: $36.61

Major occupations

Bakersfield: Education, training; construction and extraction; protective services (correctional officers, police, firefighters)

San Francisco: Computer and mathematical; business and financial operations; management

Median home price

Bakersfield: $234,036

San Francisco: $1.3 million

What $500,000 will get you

Bakersfield: 3,400-square-foot, five-bedroom, three-bath single-family home

San Francisco: 1,000-square-foot tear-down/fixer-upper

Average monthly rent

Bakersfield: $935

San Francisco: $3,426

Oro en paz, fierro en guerra (Gold in Peace, Iron in War)

— San Francisco’s official motto


Voter registration, by major party

Bakersfield: 36% Democratic, 35% Republican

San Francisco: 58% Democratic, 7% Republican

2016 presidential results

Bakersfield: Donald Trump 53%, Hillary Clinton 40%

San Francisco: Hillary Clinton 84%, Donald Trump 9%

2012 presidential results

Bakersfield: Mitt Romney 57%, Barack Obama 40%

San Francisco: Barack Obama 83%, Mitt Romney 13%

L.A. Clippers guard and Bakersfield native Tyrone Wallace
L.A. Clippers guard and Bakersfield native Tyrone Wallace
(Matt York / Associated Press )

Famous natives

Bakersfield: David Benoit, jazz pianist; Frank Bidart, poet; Brandon Cruz, actor/punk rock musician; Kelli Garner, actress; Kevin Harvick, professional stock car racer; Tyrone Wallace, professional basketball player


San Francisco: Ansel Adams, photographer; Clint Eastwood, actor; Robert Frost, poet; Jerry Garcia, musician; Steve Jobs, entrepreneur; Jason Kidd, former pro basketball player and coach

San Francisco native Jerry Garcia co-founded the rock band The Grateful Dead.
(Chris Hancock / Associated Press )

Songs about

Bakersfield: “A Bar in Bakersfield,” “Bill Woods From Bakersfield,” “Streets of Bakersfield”

San Francisco: “I Left my Heart in San Francisco,” “Lights,” “San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Some Flowers)”

City motto


Bakersfield: “Life as it should be”

San Francisco: “Oro en paz, fierro en guerra” (Gold in Peace, Iron in War)

Tallest building

Bakersfield: Stockdale Tower, 176 feet

San Francisco: Salesforce Tower, 1,070 feet

Famous for

Bakersfield: Agriculture, conservative politics, country music, oil industry, summer heat

San Francisco: Cable cars, fog, liberal politics, sourdough bread, vertiginous hillsides

Still to be determined

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