If Kevin McCarthy exits, who’s getting into the race to replace him?

The list of contenders if the Speaker Emeritus decides to retire or forego re-election in 2024 is extensive. Here’s who insiders view as the likeliest options.

With speculation that former Speaker Kevin McCarthy may not run for re-election and potentially retiring from Congress after nine terms, several potential candidates are being floated as possible replacements for the Bakersfield Republican. 

Here’s who Washington insiders expect will explore running for California’s 20th district: 


Shannon Grove

Grove currently serves in the California Senate representing the 12th Senate District. A Republican from Bakersfield, she has served in the state Senate since 2016, prior to which she spent six years in the Assembly. 

She also served as the Senate Minority Leader from 2019 to 2021. 

Before her time in the California Legislature, she founded – and remains CEO of – Continental Labor & Staffing Resources, a Kern County temporary staffing agency. 

Vince Fong 

Fong, another Bakersfield Republican, currently serves in the California Assembly. He was first elected to the Legislature in 2016. 

He started his political career as an aide to former Rep. Bill Thomas and has direct ties to McCarthy. 

Before he was elected to the Assembly, Fong served as McCarthy’s district director for nearly a decade. 

Devin Nunes

The Tulare Republican has the most experience in Washington among those speculated, having served in Congress from 2003 to 2022. 

Nunes abruptly retired from Congress in December 2021 to become the CEO of Trump Media and Technology Group, where he remains today. 

He has overseen the launch of Truth Social, Trump Media’s social media platform where former President Donald Trump is active on. 

California’s redistricting process in 2021 partitioned Nunes’s 22nd District into the current 21st District, represented by Fresno Democrat Jim Costa, and McCarthy’s current 22nd District. Nunes would have had to run for the 5th district – represented by Tom McClintock (R–Elk Grove) – if he wanted to remain in Congress. 

Connie Conway 

Before last year Conway’s political experience came at the Tulare County Board of Supervisors and the California Assembly, where she served from 2008 to 2014, including four years as the Republican leader. 

After years away from elected office, Conway successfully ran in the special election to replace Nunes after he retired and served out the remainder of his term in 2022 before the district lines officially shifted. 

Conway ended up serving about half a year in Washington D.C. 

Nathan Magsig 

Magsig, a Fresno County Supervisor, has held elected office for decades. He was elected as a Supervisor in 2016, prior to which he served 16 years on the Clovis City Council. 

He has already made an attempt at Congress, unsuccessfully challenging McClintock last year in the primary election for District 5. 

Andreas Borgeas 

With a more drastic redistricting process than Nunes faced, Borgeas effectively did not have a district to run for in the California Senate after the California Redistricting Commission drew the new lines. 

Borgeas would have either been forced to challenge Grove for the 12th Senate District or relocate to the 4th district. 

He served on the Fresno City Council and the Fresno County Board of Supervisors before being elected to the Senate in 2018. 

After Nunes retired Borgeas opened an exploratory committee to replace him. Since his exit from the Legislature Borgeas has worked as the CEO of Greece-Africa Power Interconnector, a transnational electricity interconnection project between Greece and Egypt. 

Devon Mathis 

Mathis recently announced his retirement from the California Assembly, opting not to run for one final term in office. 

Mathis, an Iraq veteran and Visalia Republican, was first elected to the Assembly in 2014. 

Garry Bredefeld 

Bredefeld has already been in the middle of a campaign for Fresno County Board of Supervisors, challenging incumbent and fellow Republican Steve Brandau for the seat. 

He has served on the Fresno City Council for two stints, first from 1997 to 2001 and from 2017 to present day. 

Bredefeld is a clinical psychologist. 

Mike Boudreaux

Boudreaux has been Tulare County Sheriff since 2015, ascending to the position after decades in the Sheriff’s Office. 

He previously considered running for the remainder of Nunes’s term last year. 

Pete Vander Poel 

Vander Poel has served on the Tulare County Board of Supervisors since 2008, succeeding Conway on the board when she was elected to the Assembly. 

Before he entered politics Vander Poel worked as a tax consultant, a financial analyst and a company controller. 

David Couch

Couch, a longtime GOP member of the Kern County Board of Supervisors, has become something of a political survivor following harsh redistricting edicts from Federal judges, who have forced him to run for re-election in a new, more Democratic-leaning district three times in six years.

Jim Patterson 

Longtime Fresno Republican Jim Patterson is termed out of the Assembly after first being elected in 2012. 

Prior to his time in the Legislature Patterson was the Mayor of Fresno from 1993 to 2001. 

He previously ran for Congress in 2002 and 2010, losing to Nunes and Jeff Denham, respectively. 

Michael Maher 

Maher has run against Rep. Jim Costa (D–Fresno) last year and has filed to run again this year. He also ran in a crowded primary to serve out the remainder of Nunes’s term last year. 

Maher is a Navy veteran and served as a special agent for the FBI. 

Lynne Ashbeck 

Ashbeck, the Mayor of Clovis, has served on the Clovis City Council since 2001. She works for Valley Children’s Healthcare as the Senior Vice President of Community Engagement and Population Wellness. 

Diane Pearce 

Pearce, a member of the Clovis City Council, was elected last year and was recently in the headlines for speaking out against LGBT displays at Fresno County libraries. 

Clint Olivier

Olivier, the President of BizFed Central Valley, is a former member of the Fresno City Council and current trustee on the Clovis Unified School Board of Trustees.

Tal Eslick 

Eslick is a public affairs consultant and the founder of Clovis-based Vista Consulting, which serves clients in healthcare, water, agriculture and technology in California and Washington D.C. 

He is a former staffer of Nunes and Rep. David Valadao (R–Hanford). 

Kyle Kirkland 

Kirkland owns Club One Casino, Fresno’s lone cardroom. He is also the Chairman of the Fresno Chaffee Zoo Foundation. 

Austin Ewell 

Ewell is the President of Eewell Group, a consulting firm involved in water, farming, land use, environmental resources and government solutions. He was also appointed by President Donald Trump as the Interior Department’s deputy assistant secretary for water and science. 

Cole Rojewski 

Rojewski is the partner of RBW Group, a consulting and lobbying firm. He is a former staffer of Nunes and Valadao, as well as the former Director of the Office of Congressional and Legislative Affairs for the Department of the Interior.

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