Two central California lawmakers perceived as potential contenders to succeed Speaker Emeritus Kevin McCarthy (R–Bakersfield) have bowed out of the race a mere day after the Bakersfield GOPer’s retirement announcement.
Thursday afternoon, Asm. Vince Fong (R–Bakersfield) opened the discussion with an announcement that he would forego a Congressional bid for his mentor’s seat, opting instead to run for re-election to the Assembly.,
The big picture: With rumors swirling leading up to McCarthy’s retirement announcement yesterday, Fong was floated by Washington insiders as one of the top contenders for the 20th Congressional District.
- First elected to the Assembly in 2016, Fong previously worked as the district director for McCarthy for nearly a decade.
- Fong ran unopposed for the 32nd Assembly District and can serve two more terms – four years – in state office.
- Thursday evening, Fong’s neighbor in the California State Legislature – outgoing Asm. Devon Mathis (R–Porterville) – also announced he would not run for the House seat.
- Mathis announced last week he would forego a final term in the Legislature to pursue new opportunities in the San Joaquin Valley. He has endorsed Tulare lawyer and engineer Alexandra Macedo to succeed him.
- The pair of lawmakers join outgoing Asm. Jim Patterson (R-Fresno) in declining to launch a Congressional bid. Patterson announced his decision in the immediate aftermath of McCarthy’s retirement news.
What they’re saying: In a statement Thursday, Fong said he has been humbled in the past 24 hours to receive an outpouring of encouragement to run for Congress and thanked everyone for their support.
- After giving thoughtful and prayerful consideration, Fong said he decided with his family that now is not his time to run for Congress.
- “I believe California is worth fighting for, and I will be seeking another term to the State Assembly to bring common sense back to our state government,” Fong said. “Our state is in crisis, and our community needs a strong and effective voice in Sacramento now more than ever to defend our way of life and our values. I will continue to fight for fiscal responsibility, affordable energy, more water infrastructure, and safer neighborhoods.
- “Since the news of Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s retirement from the House of Representatives, I’ve been truly humbled by the flood of support & encouragement, people putting their faith in me to run,” Mathis said in his statement. “I’ve been praying deeply with my family & stand resolute to stay on course with my current plan of action. I will be finishing my current Assembly term and shifting gears to take everything I have learned and pay it forward by consulting on projects to help our Valley.”