Special election for McCarthy seat advances to runoff

Congress McCarthy 120623 AP J. Scott Applewhite

Two Republicans will battle it out in a May runoff to claim former Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s (R-Calif.) House seat, which has been open since December. 

County Sheriff Mike Boudreaux will face off against state legislator Vince Fong in the May 21 special election in California’s 20th District. 

Boudreaux has touted his background in law enforcement and largely campaigned on working to help secure the U.S.-Mexico border. Fong, who emerged in first place for both the March primary for the 2024 election and the special election, has raked in big-name endorsements, ranging from former President Trump to McCarthy, his former boss. 

The district, grasping parts of Fresno and Bakersfield, is a solidly Republican seat in a blue-seat California. 

The news comes more than five months after McCarthy was ousted from his leadership role following a historic motion to vacate. Not long after he was removed from the Speakership, he announced he would depart from Congress at the end of 2023.

California voters will head to the polls on May 21, set by California Gov. Gavin Newsom, to decide who will finish the term. The winner will have an advantage as a de facto incumbent for some time.

Fong had initially been determined ineligible for the seat, as he was running a reelection bid for his assembly seat and state law barred a candidate from running two campaigns. A California judge later reversed the ruling, claiming it applied only to independent candidates.

Trump called Fong a “true” Republican when he threw his support behind him last month. The state lawmaker has also collected endorsements from his GOP colleagues in the state chamber. 

Boudreaux has also had some Trump-world backing, getting support from former Director of National Intelligence Ric Grenell, but has also scooped up local endorsements.

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