California special election for Kevin McCarthy’s old House seat heads to runoff race

A further special general election will be held in California in May after no candidate secured enough votes to take former Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s congressional seat.

Republican Vince Fong, a California state assemblyman and former aide to Mr McCarthy, advanced to the runoff race for the 20th congressional district seat on Tuesday night, according to The Associated Press.

As of 3am ET on Wednesday morning, it was unclear which other candidate will join him in May.

Mr Fong has secured 40.8 per cent of the vote with 84 per cent of votes counted.

County sheriff Mike Boudreaux, his most competitive challenger, is second with 26.2 per cent, followed by Marisa Wood with 23.1 per cent and Kyle Kirkland with 5.2 per cent.

Since no candidate has received more than 50 per cent of the vote, the top two placers – regardless of party – now go on to another special election 21 May.

The result came as somewhat of a surprise considering Mr Fong’s pickup of both his former boss’s endorsement and the support of former president Donald Trump.

Mr McCarthy is known to be active in House races around the country following his unceremonious ousting from the speakership and later resignation from the chamber — in particular, he is reported to be working against the so-called “Gaetz Eight” who, with the help of support from a unified Democratic caucus, successfully led a motion to vacate against his leadership last fall.

Mr Boudreaux, who currently serves as sheriff of Tulare County, had a number of endorsements from local Republican officials and organisations.

Since no candidate received more than 50 per cent of the vote to claim Mr McCarthy’s seat, the top two now advance to another special election 21 May (Getty Images)
Since no candidate received more than 50 per cent of the vote to claim Mr McCarthy’s seat, the top two now advance to another special election 21 May (Getty Images)

But he managed to push through to another round despite his opponent’s combination of connections to the former speaker as well as a Trump endorsement.

Both candidates will get a second shot in November, however; the special election only gets the victor through the end of Mr McCarthy’s current term, which he resigned without completing in December.

Mr McCarthy’s humiliation never seemed to cease during his short tenure as speaker of the House. The California Republican was elected to the chair in January after more than a dozen votes which ended without the successful election of a candidate.

His replacement, Speaker Mike Johnson, faces many of the same pressures that eventually forced Mr McCarthy out of his seat: A sizable faction of Republicans who refuse to go along with measures such as short term funding bills and often demand sharp cuts to government spending or other changes in order to secure their votes on legislation to fund federal agencies.

He has also seen his majority in the lower chamber shrink to just five votes, further hindering the passage of GOP-led bills and adding to the threat of his removal.

Already, members of the House such as Marjorie Taylor Greene have threatened to deploy the same motion to vacate measure against Mr Johnson over issues such as foreign aid for Ukraine’s military.

Under California’s top-two primary system, Mr Fong and Mr Boudreaux advanced to Tuesday’s election after a March 5 primary eliminated their other opponents, including the leading Democrat vying for the seat. Now they will go head-to-head again in two months time.

The race was the last of the night to be called; other statewide races and primaries took place in Ohio, Arizona, Illinois, Florida and Kansas on Tuesday, with Donald Trump and Joe Biden easily claiming victory in all all five of the state presidential primaries.