Sarah May
December 17, 2023

Kevin McCarthy's preferred successor for House seat deemed ineligible to run

The departure of former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) from Congress prompted immediate speculation about possible successors, but it now appears that his hand-picked choice for the role – Assemblyman Vince Fong – may be unable to contest for the open seat, as The Hill reports.

A former senior staffer to McCarthy, Fong was the presumptive favorite to seek the 20th District seat upon the ousted speaker's resignation announcement, but now the status of the candidate field has been plunged into limbo.

Fong declared ineligible

As The Hill notes, Fong submitted his filing to run for McCarthy's seat after another ally of the former speaker -- State Sen. Shannon Grove -- decided not to pursue the job.

However, it was not long after that the secretary of state announced that because Fong already appears on the ballot as a candidate for reelection to the state Assembly, he cannot be pulled out of that contest to mount a campaign for a different race.

Explaining the decision, the secretary of state's office issued a statement on the matter, saying, “State law prohibits any candidate from filing nomination papers for more than one open office at the same election.”

“As such, the Secretary of State's office has determined that Mr. Fong's filed nomination papers for Congressional District 20 were improperly submitted,” the statement went on.

Challenge planned

According to Fong's campaign, however, the secretary of state's determination will be challenged in court, with the assemblyman's representatives labeling the action an “unprecedented interference” with the election filing process.

Fong issued a statement and said, “Voters in the 20th Congressional District have a right to choose the candidate of their choice to represent them in Congress.”

He also vowed to “do whatever it takes to give voters in our community a real choice in this election because the voters choose our elected officials, not Sacramento.”

Filling McCarthy's shoes

Though his tenure as House speaker was fraught with internal party strife, McCarthy delivered a rousing farewell speech last week in which he looked back in his 17 years in Congress and stated that he “would do it all again,” as The Hill noted separately.

Mccarthy also expressed pride and optimism about the future of the GOP, saying, that years ago, he thought the Republicans “looked like one of the most restrictive country clubs in America,” but added, “I look at our party today, it doesn't look like it did five years ago. We are wining in places you haven't seen before.

“When I look to the future, I think it's much brighter,” McCarthy said, but whether Fong will indeed be a contender to take up that hopeful mantle in the next election, only time will tell.

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