Kevin McCarthy Protégé Denied Eligibility for Fill Vacated Seat

By Jerry McConway, updated on December 21, 2023

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.

Talking Points…

  • McCarthy resigns
  • California Sec. of State ruling
  • Analysis

Kevin McCarthy Resignation

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."

California Secretary of State Ruling

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…

Analysis

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.

About Jerry McConway

Jerry McConway is an independent political author and investigator who lives in Dallas, Texas. He has spent years building a strong following of readers who know that he will write what he believes is true, even if it means criticizing politicians his followers support. His readers have come to expect his integrity.

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