With Speaker Emeritus Kevin McCarthy announcing his retirement from Congress at the end of the month, a week’s worth of speculation over who may run to replace him in 2024 has turned into a political hot stove season.
Here’s what The Sun has heard from would-be contenders and local and state leaders in the wake of McCarthy’s retirement announcement.
THE CONTENDER’S CLUB
Devin Nunes, Truth Social CEO and former U.S. Representative: Coincidentally, McCarthy’s announcement comes two years to-the-day of Nunes’ own retirement announcement. Wednesday, Nunes did not respond to a request for comment from The Sun.
- In a Sunrise FM podcast interview debuting hours before McCarthy’s announcement, Nunes said “I’m just assuming that he’s running – that he’s going to run again. And I’m not going to do or say anything that would prohibit that. I’d be glad to support him if he wants to continue to run, and we’ll leave it at that.”
- A source familiar with Nunes’ operations told The Sun after McCarthy’s announcement “plenty could happen between now and Wednesday, but no one is better positioned to succeed McCarthy than Devin. If he wants to run, his election would be a mere formality.”
Vince Fong, Assemblyman: Fong, once McCarthy’s district director, issued a statement on Wednesday congratulating his former boss but did not wade into potential speculation of a bid to succeed him.
- “Speaker Kevin McCarthy served the Central Valley, the State of California and our country with distinction, striving to make our community and nation better.
- “Through our decades of friendship, I’ve seen his commitment and his sacrifice – always optimistic and unafraid of the hard work necessary to create more opportunities for all Americans.
- “I am grateful to Kevin for his leadership, mentorship and dedication; and I look forward to seeing his continued service to the people of the Central Valley and our country.”
David Giglio, Pre-existing contender: Giglio, an also-ran in the open 13th Congressional seat in 2022 ultimately captured by Rep. John Duarte (R–Modesto) has long held an axe to grind with McCarthy for driving the GOP to side with the nursery owner over him in the 2022 primary. He issued a scathing attack on the former Speaker in the wake of the retirement announcement.
- “While Kevin McCarthy might be planning to leave Congress in body, he is still looking to wield power and influence behind the scenes through a handpicked successor.
- “Despite decades in Washington, Kevin McCarthy accomplished next to nothing for the people of the Central Valley and the nation.
- “During McCarthy’s tenure in Congress and reign as Speaker, an epidemic of crime swept our nation, our borders continued to be overrun, our farms were crippled due to water shortages and burdensome regulations, and a presidential election was stolen from the American people.”
Nathan Magsig, Fresno County Supervisor: Magsig did not directly answer a question from The Sun on if he will explore a campaign for the 20th district, instead providing the following comments:
- “I was surprised by Congressman McCarthy’s decision. I wish him well.”
Shannon Grove, State Senator: Grove issued a statement Wednesday thanking McCarthy for his work for the Valley.
- “Speaker McCarthy has been a tremendous advocate for the Central Valley, the State of California, and our country. He is a patriot, a loyal Republican, and most of all a dear friend,” Grove said.
- “While Congress will miss his experience and talent, I am excited that he will continue to fight for not just Republicans, but for the Central Valley as well.
- “I am thankful for Kevin’s service to the country and look forward to continue working side-by-side with him in the future.”
VALLEY, CALIF. LEADERS SPEAK OUT
- California Assembly GOP Leader James Gallagher (R–Yuba City) praised McCarthy’s long record serving the Golden State.
- “Speaker McCarthy played a critical role in delivering a Republican House majority, and as Speaker he advanced our Republican principles despite a Democratic Senate and President. His work to boost California Republicans led to victories around the state, at every level of government,” the northern California Republican said.
- Rep. David Valadao (R–Hanford), McCarthy’s longtime next-door neighbor similarly praised his colleague.
- “Thank you to my friend Kevin McCarthy for his years of service to the Central Valley, the state of California, and our country,” Valadao said in a statement. “Over the years, we have had the opportunity to work together on several key issues that impact our neighboring districts in California’s Central Valley, including bringing more water to our communities and supporting the farmers who feed our nation. Under his leadership as Speaker of the House, the Republican majority passed legislation to secure the border, boost energy production, and cut wasteful spending. Being a member of Congress is equally demanding on our families, and I want to thank Kevin’s wife Judy, and his two kids Connor and Meghan, for their years of sacrifice and support. Our nation owes a debt of gratitude to Kevin for his servant leadership, dedication to our troops, and commitment to delivering for the American people. His leadership and presence in the halls of Congress will be greatly missed.”
- Asm. Jim Patterson (R–Fresno) put to rest all rumors that he is interested in succeeding McCarthy.
- “While I appreciate the interest, encouragement and speculation I should run for Congress, the answer to that question is no. I have been blessed to serve 8 years as the Mayor of Fresno and fully intend to keep my commitment to voters to finish my 12th year in the State Assembly. After that, I will come home to spend more time with Sharon and my family, and look for opportunities to continue to give back to the area that has blessed us,” Patterson said.
- “Unfortunately, the special election that must now be held to fill this seat is sure to create political musical chairs for the counties involved. And, I have no desire to be part of the cost-burden that will be put on the voters.”