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Kevin McCarthy is the fastest-rising House majority leader ever

We originally posted this last week. We are re-upping it now that McCarthy has won the election for majority leader.

When Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) was 19, he won $5,000 in the California lottery. Here are three other facts you probably didn't know about the House majority leader. (Pamela Kirkland/The Washington Post)

Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) was just elected House majority leader. And in doing so, he becomes the fastest-rising majority leader -- and party leader, period -- in history.

Back in 2010, when then-Rep. Heath Shuler (D-N.C.) was trying to supplant Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) as Democratic leader, the great Smart Politics team determined that he would be both the youngest and greenest party leader in history. That didn't happen, as Shuler lost badly.

Today, though, McCarthy takes that title home. That's because he's in only his fourth term in office, having been first elected less than eight years ago, in 2006.

The previous most inexperienced party floor leader was now-Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), who served as "acting" majority leader during his fifth term in the House, when the whole Tom DeLay thing blew up. Apart from him, the party leaders with the fewest terms served were Cantor, John Sharp Williams in the early 1900s and Dick Armey in the 1990s. All were in their sixth terms when they ascended.

McCarthy's quick rise to the top isn't totally unheard-of, though. Before there was any such thing as a majority leader (leader titles were created in the late 1800s), Henry Clay became speaker of the House in his very first term in office in 1811.

Looking at just party leaders, though, here's how McCarthy stacks up:

Data courtesy Smart Politics
Data courtesy Smart Politics

And here's the raw data, again with a big thanks to Smart Politics:

Aaron Blake covers national politics and writes regularly for The Fix.



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Aaron Blake · June 19, 2014

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