Gov. Newsom announces delayed special election for McCarthy seat

Gov. Newsom announces delayed special election for McCarthy seat

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The special primary election to replace former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy will be held on March 19, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Monday, giving Republican hopefuls a longer-than-expected window to mount a campaign for the solidly-red seat.

If necessary, a runoff will be on May 21.

Rather than consolidating it with the state’s March 5 primary, the governor scheduled the special primary election at a later date at the request of county officials. Counties in the Bakersfield-area district were concerned that a consolidated election would lead to increased costs and voter confusion, according to the governor’s office.

The election to finish out the rest of McCarthy’s term will run parallel with the race to succeed him. Assemblymember Vince Fong is running to replace his longtime mentor, and confirmed to POLITICO on Monday that he would compete in the special election as well, to finish out the remainder of McCarthy’s term.

Other Republicans vying for the seat include the Tulare County Sheriff Mike Boudreaux and former congressional candidate David Giglio.

McCarthy announced his resignation in December after a short and tumultuous tenure as speaker that ended with an unceremonious ousting at the hands of the far-right Freedom Caucus. McCarthy has said he intends to stay involved with GOP fundraising and recruitment efforts, but his removal from the top job was seen as a major blow to California Republicans — especially its vulnerable House members.

Fong is in the midst of a legal battle to keep his spot on the ballot after Secretary of State Shirley Weber said he could not run for both the congressional seat and his assembly seat at the same time.

He had initially filed for reelection after passing on a run for McCarthy’s seat, but changed his mind after state Sen. Shannon Grove (R-Bakersfield) — who was widely seen as a strong potential contender — surprised the Central Valley by declining to run.

By that point, the deadline to withdraw from the ballot as an Assembly candidate had passed. Fong filed for a congressional run anyway, which Weber said violated state law against appearing on the same ballot twice for different positions.

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