Magazine December 20, 2010, Issue

The Whip Dude

(Darren Gygi)
A look at the low-key, high-powered Rep. Kevin McCarthy

Washington, D.C.

On Election Night, as dusk settled upon the city, Rep. Kevin McCarthy, as ever, was relaxed. His thick salt-and-pepper hair was brushed back; the sleeves of his starched white shirt rolled up. And the flat-screen television in his Capitol Hill office was tuned to Extra, the celebrity-news program.

As McCarthy pored over campaign data, he bantered with his young aides about the filmography of actor Robert Downey Jr., who was being profiled. “Underrated,” McCarthy mused, in his loose, Southern California drawl. “Iron Man was fun, but he’s made a bunch of good films.”

McCarthy has an eye for talent. As vice

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