Earlier this month, former Speaker McCarthy (R-CA) resigned his seat in Congress, leaving it open just in time for a special election to fill it.
The consensus seemed to be that McCarthy's protégé, Assemblyman Vince Fong, would be the leading candidate, but the Democrat Secretary of State for California, Shirley Weber, has ruled that Fong is ineligible to run for that seat.
The general consensus after McCarthy was forced out as Speaker was that McCarthy would not seek re-election, but his resignation from the seat caught just about everyone by surprise.
McCarthy later explained that he resigned when he did to ensure that a special election would have to be held to fill the seat. He also stated that his district is solid red, so there is no hope for Democrats to take that seat.
After McCarthy announced that his resignation would take effect on December 31, 2023, Fong became the frontrunner for the seat, having already secured an endorsement by McCarthy, who stated:
"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."
When it became clear that Fong was going to run for the seat, Sec. of State Weber immediately disqualified him from the seat:
"Under state law, a candidate who has filed their declaration of candidacy is not permitted to withdraw as a candidate at that primary election.
"Mr. Fong filed his completed nomination documents for Assembly District 32 prior to the close of the December 8, 2023 filing deadline. Mr. Fong then submitted completed nomination documents for Congressional District 20 during the 5-day extension period triggered by the incumbent's decision not to seek re-election. State law prohibits any candidate from filing nomination papers for more than one office at the same election."
Fong responded to that on X…
Voters in the 20th Congressional District have a right to choose the candidate of their choice to represent them in Congress. I will fight the Secretary of State's misguided decision and do whatever it takes to give voters in our community a real choice in this election because… pic.twitter.com/0vqx3ohP7i
— Vince Fong (@vfong) December 16, 2023
There is little doubt this decision by the Secretary of State will be litigated to the full extent.
California being a Democrat-run state, it is tough to say how this will play out in the lower court, but I think Fong will ultimately be removed from the Assemblyman ballot and placed on the ballot to replace the seat vacated by McCarthy.
Even if the eventual ruling finds that Fong cannot run, I would suspect that McCarthy will do everything he can to get him in that seat during the next election. McCarthy has a lot of influence in that area, and he surely wants "his guy" in that seat to continue to wield some influence in Congress, especially if Trump wins the election and McCarthy joins his cabinet.