Recently deposed House Speaker Kevin McCarthy represents the safest Republican seat in California, but that doesn't mean his decision to leave the House by the end of the year won't impact his party's electoral prospects. Since arriving in Washington in 2007, McCarthy has been the GOP's longest-serving chief political strategist without actually having held the job of National Republican Congressional Committee chair, and his exit creates a void that harder-right actors in the party are poised to fill.

Despite McCarthy's valuable strategic alliances with former President Donald Trump and Freedom Caucus leader Jim Jordan (OH-04), he's ultimately been a pragmatic influence: He's relentlessly crisscrossed the country recruiting swing district candidates who didn't look or sound like Trump (including scores of women, minorities and veterans), stealthily backed "governing-oriented" Republicans in safe open seats and rebuffed the rigid ideologues in his conference enough to collect seven-figure checks from leading business figures for the House GOP's leading Super PAC.

Of course, this pragmatism also led to his undoing as speaker. Taken with the departures of Financial Services Committee Chair Patrick McHenry (NC-10) and

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