Fong flips script, announces candidacy to succeed McCarthy

The Republican state lawmaker reversed course on running after State Sen. Shannon Grove opted against a 2024 run. He now faces a legally murky path to the ballot.

Asm. Vince Fong (R-Bakersfield) will seek the open Congressional seat held by Speaker Emeritus Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield).

The announcement comes mere hours after State Sen. Shannon Grove (R-Bakersfield) made her own announcement that she would forego a Congressional bid in 2024.


Legal issues arise: Fong – and a number of other would-be 2024 contenders – face a key stumbling block to running, courtesy of California’s byzantine elections laws.

  • California’s elections code and a California Supreme Court decision in Keane v. Smith bars candidates from running for two voter-nominated offices simultaneously.
  • As such, candidates vying for county, state, or Federal offices would be blocked from running if they filed declaration of candidacy for a different elected office, qualified to run, and the filing deadline closed.
  • For offices – such as Fong’s – which feature a qualified incumbent running for re-election, the filing deadline concluded on Friday, Dec. 8.
  • California does not allow candidates to withdraw their declaration of candidacy for voter-nominated offices once the period has concluded.

Fong takes candidate’s oath: Despite legal uncertainty over his candidacy, Kern County’s Registrar of Voters permitted Fong to pull papers to run for Congress, leaving his ability to qualify as a candidate for Congress an open question with two days before the filing deadline.

  • A spokesman for California’s Secretary of State could not provide local outlets with definitive answers on Monday over Fong’s ability to file for McCarthy’s seat.

What he’s saying: “After Speaker McCarthy announced his decision not to seek reelection, my family and I initially thought the best way to serve our community was to continue representing the Central Valley in the State Assembly. However, it is my strong belief that the Central Valley must continue to be represented by proven, conservative leaders in Congress. In light of recent developments and in an attempt to unite our community in this critical moment in our nation’s history, I have decided to run for Congress in 2024.

  • “I have spent my career fighting for Central Valley families. I am eager and ready to take that fight to Washington and deliver meaningful results for our community. In Congress, I will focus on the pressing issues impacting our quality of life. I will defend the Central Valley’s water and energy resources. I will work to end the chaos on the southern border and approve new border security measures. I will oppose new taxes and the reckless spending that has fueled inflation and caused our cost of living to soar.
  • “I am excited to share this vision with Central Valley residents and earn the opportunity to represent our community in our nation’s capitol. I ask the community for their support, and more importantly, their continued prayers.”
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