Hamlet of Bakersfield: Speculation mounts of Kevin McCarthy’s early retirement

McCarthy could decide to step away from Congress instead of running for a 10th term after being ousted as Speaker, setting off a political firestorm in 2024.

Former Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R–Bakersfield) is still undecided on whether or not he will run for reelection next year, but speculation is swelling that he could decline to run for re-election and exit the House of Representatives before the end of the year.

He’ll need to make a decision in the coming days since the deadline to file for the election in California is on the horizon next week. 


Driving the news: Speaking at The New York Times DealBook Summit in New York on Wednesday, McCarthy said he is still weighing his options for the upcoming election. 

  • If he opts to retire from Congress, McCarthy said he will still remain involved in Washington D.C. 
  • The deadline to file to run for Congress in California is Dec. 8. 
  • Axios reported growing speculation on Capitol Hill among the House GOP conference of McCarthy’s potential exit, pointing to sources with knowledge of McCarthy telling donors privately that he is “get the hell out” of Congress.
  • The digital pub pointed to Instagram posts from McCarthy showing what appeared to be him packing up his district office in Bakersfield.
  • Multiple sources told The Sun that McCarthy’s political operation is suspending accepting contributions, another potential indicator that the ex-Speaker could be winding down his tenure.

What we’re watching: McCarthy is already being challenged by the right in the 20th district with Madera businessman David Giglio launching his campaign. 

  • Other candidates include Democrats John Burrows, a Fresno legislative staffer, and Andy Morales, a recent Fresno State graduate. 
  • If McCarthy decides against running for a 10th term, a seemingly endless list of Republicans in Fresno, Tulare, Kings, and Kern counties could emerge.

What they’re saying: “It’s a serious decision to make, and I have another week or so to decide because if I decide to run again, I have to know in my heart I’m giving 110-percent,” McCarthy said on Wednesday. “I have to know that I want to do that. I also have to know if I’m going to walk away, that I’m going to be fine with walking away.”

  • He added that he doesn’t want to look back and realize that he made an emotional decision if he walks away. 
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