Tags: Patrick McHenry | North Carolina | House | congress

Patrick McHenry of NC Grows Into a Bigger House Role

Image: Patrick McHenry of NC Grows Into a Bigger House Role
Rep. Patrick Timothy McHenry, R-N.C. (Handout/Public Domain/mchenry.house.gov)

By    |   Monday, 11 May 2015 11:03 AM

Rep. Patrick McHenry of North Carolina has gone from a brash upstart in Congress a decade ago to a trusted, seasoned negotiator earning the respect of other lawmakers as he quietly brings many together, The Wall Street Journal reports of his work as chief deputy whip.

McHenry was named to the leadership position last summer after the unexpected primary defeat of Eric Cantor, the Journal said, and after learning a tough lesson on the importance of working together, including one issued in 2007 by members of his own party.

"That moment, where he moved from fighting on the national issues in front of a national audience, he switched to a position where he could have far more influence," his former deputy chief of staff, Jonathan Collegio, told the Journal of changes in personal strategy that have made McHenry more focused and more successful.

As chief deputy whip, McHenry must keep informed on many complex issues as he steps in to guide other legislators to unity, a skill set he has navigated successfully, his colleagues said, with the Journal describing him now as a "savvy backroom operator."

It was not always such mature sailing for McHenry, who first made a congressional bid while a junior in college. The conservative was elected in 2005, at 29, and quickly turned heads — and ruffled some feathers — with his youthful moxie, Washington Monthly reported.

"He used to frustrate the living daylights out of me," House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, a Democrat, told the Journal of McHenry's early days in Congress.

"He and I now have a very good relationship, but we started out pretty rocky. I used to be thinking, 'This young kid is a pain in the neck,'" Hoyer said.

When he joined Congress in 2005, he was its youngest member. Even George W. Bush teased him about his looks — boyish but with prematurely gray hair, the AP reported at the time.

McHenry's early comments noted his amusement at the environment he saw on the Hill.

"This place is a much more sophisticated junior high school," McHenry told the AP.

"There are the nice guys that everybody likes, the jocks, the geeks, the bullies — they're all here. It's a representative democracy."

Over the years, however, McHenry has learned how best to handle the bullies and to draw his factions together to get things done, the Journal said of his now-tempered conduct.

And it helped when, after being loudly and publicly critical of earmark spending by legislators to promote home-state projects, he was chastened when his own effort to get money set aside for North Carolina crafts was blocked in 2007 by then GOP Rep. Jeff Flake, now a senator.

"Some lessons you learn, others you have to be taught," McHenry said.

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Rep. Patrick McHenry of North Carolina has gone from a brash upstart in Congress a decade ago to a trusted, seasoned negotiator earning the respect of other lawmakers as he quietly brings many together, The Wall Street Journal reports of his work as chief deputy whip.
Patrick McHenry, North Carolina, House, congress
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Monday, 11 May 2015 11:03 AM
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