Political Update: McCarthy Moves Up, Knight to Vie for House Seat

Rep. Kevin McCarthy
Rep. Kevin McCarthy

Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), a supporter of commercial space legislation, has moved up in the leadership of House of Representatives. Meanwhile, another commercial space supporter, California State Sen. Steve Knight (R-Palmdale), will be competing to represent California in the Congressional district that adjoins McCarthy’s district.

McCarthy’s elevation to the position of House Majority Leader followed the defeat of Eric Cantor (R-VA), who lost a primary challenge earlier this month. The loss meant Cantor would not be able to stand for re-election as the Republican Party’s candidate in Virginia’s 7th District.

The Majority Leader is the second-ranked position in the House, with the responsibility of scheduling the legislative calendar and managing House committees.

McCarthy — who represents the 23rd Congressional district that includes Mojave, Rosamond, California City and Edwards Air Force Base —  had previously served as House Majority Whip. In that position, he kept track of legislation and rounded up legislators for important votes.

The Congressman has been active in supporting commercial space. He recently introduced a measure that would have clarified the Federal Aviation Administration’s licensing and permitting requirements for reusable suborbital space vehicles.

State Sen. Steve Knight
State Sen. Steve Knight

While McCarthy is getting used to his new duties, Knight is gearing up for a tough election fight to represent the adjoining 25th Congressional district, which includes Palmdale and most of Lancaster. The seat is open due to the retirement of long-time Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon (R-Santa Clarita).

Knight, who is the son of the late X-15 pilot William “Pete” Knight,” will battle fellow Republican Tony Strickland, who formerly served in the California Senate. Knight and Strickland were selected by voters under California’s new primary system, which allows the two top vote getters to run in the general election regardless of party affiliation.

Knight currently represents California’s 21st Senate district, which includes Lancaster, Palmdale, Santa Clarita and Victorville. He has been active in sponsoring a number of pro-commercial space bills, including an informed consent measure that would provide liability protections for space tourism operators, manufacturers and equipment suppliers.

Knight is in the first year of a four-year term term in the California Senate, meaning he will stay in office if he loses his Congressional bid in November. He previously represented California’s 36th Assembly district for four years, which was preceded by a three-year stint on the Palmdale City Council.

His political career has followed that of his father, who served on the Palmdale City Council before moving on to a terms in the California State Assembly and State Senate. Pete Knight died in office on May 7, 2004.