CA Assemblyman Vince Fong endorsed by Kevin McCarthy to fill his seat

Kate Nemarich Image
Wednesday, December 13, 2023
CA Assemblyman Vince Fong endorsed by Kevin McCarthy to fill his seat
As Valley congressman Kevin McCarthy prepares to resign at the end of the year, he's now offering his endorsement to a potential successor.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Just days before the filing deadline for California's 20th District seat, US Congressman Kevin McCarthy announced he wouldn't be seeking reelection, and he'd be stepping down from his position at the end of the year.

With the former House speaker not seeking re-election, the California Secretary of State extended the filing deadline until Wednesday, December 13.

Political experts saw Assemblyman Vince Fong as a potential successor to McCarthy as at one point, he had worked as the congressman's district director for nearly a decade.

Last week, Fong had said he wouldn't be seeking the office and filed to run for his 32nd Assembly district seat once again.

However, he changed his mind after State Senator Shannon Grove announced Sunday that she would not be seeking McCarthy's open seat.

Less than 24 hours later, Fong released a statement that read in part, "In light of recent developments and in an attempt to unite our community in this critical moment in our nation's history, I have decided to run for Congress in 2024."

According to Politico reporter Jeremy B. White, Fong submitting himself for two races could spell legal trouble -- as it is something the Secretary of State does not permit.

"The Secretary of State's Office said that the deadline has passed, you can't run for two offices simultaneously line and you can't rescind having made yourself a candidate for one office," he said.

The Secretary of State's Office has not announced how they will handle the conflict.

In contrast to the potential ballot issues, Fong quickly picked up an endorsement from McCarthy.

His campaign released a statement from McCarthy that read in part, "There is no one that I trust more to continue the fight for common-sense and conservative values in Washington DC. I am proud to endorse my friend, Vince Fong, for Congress."

The sudden changes in the last 72 hours seem like a cap for an office that has already seen drastic changes in the last year -- from McCarthy's hard-fought battle to gain the Speakership, quick loss of the position and surprise resignation.

Aside from the previous political turmoil, White says Fong's reversal is significant.

"I think the way that it has played out here in such a tight time frame and the way that it has created these legal and political uncertainties is definitely unusual, and something that is attracting a lot of attention," he said.

Tulare County Sheriff Mike Boudreaux has also filed to run for the open congressional seat, but Boudreaux told Politico he's hesitant about running because of what the cross-country travel would mean for his family.

Action News also learned late Tuesday that two others had filed to run. They are Matthew Stoll, a fighter pilot and small business owner, along with Kyle Kirkland, the owner of Club One Casino and a board member for the Fresno Chaffee Zoo. Both are expected to run as Republicans.

The governor's office is required to set a special election 14 days after the congressional seat is vacated.

Gov. Gavin Newsom's office said in a statement, "We will have more to share once we have specifics from Rep. McCarthy about his planned departure."

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