With Fong’s candidacy in a legal shadow, who else could emerge to vie for McCarthy’s seat?

The legal murkiness of Asm. Vince Fong’s candidacy has prompted a fresh wave of speculation about possible contenders for Congress.

With less than three days before the filing deadline closes to succeed Speaker Emeritus Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield), growing worries that the newest entrant and likely frontrunner, Asm. Vince Fong (R–Bakersfield), will be legally unable to run for the seat have prompted a fresh wave of worry over would-be contenders.

Currently, one Republican – Madera Ranchos resident David Giglio – is running for the seat.


The sticky wicket: 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.

Beyond Fong, who could get in? Given the legal bar on some candidates, the list of would-be candidates has vastly changed. Here’s who insiders suggest could also jump into the race:

Mike Boudreaux, Tulare County Sheriff: The longtime Tulare County Sheriff has had his name bandied about in the wake of McCarthy’s retirement announcement. Monday, he broke his silence to Nexstar:

  • “I love being the sheriff of Tulare County,” Boudreaux told the TV network. “but I also feel that this may be a great opportunity to take advantage of – to take a look to see if that’s something I would like to do.”
  • “I would bring a whole different perspective and that perspective would be law and order. That perspective would be fighting for the victims of this district, fighting for the Central Valley when it comes to victims and the issues facing our open border.”
  • “I could be sitting in Congress with the idea that I’ve investigated cases, I know what evidence it takes, I know when people are lying to me. I don’t know that that’s the best perspective, but I do feel that I bring a positive note and we’ll see what it holds in the next couple of days.”

    Devin Nunes, former Congressman and CEO of Truth Social: Nunes, who formerly held a large chunk of the territory within the 20th District and possesses an $11 million campaign war chest available to deploy for a snap candidacy.

    • Nunes could not be reached for comment on inquiry of a potential candidacy.

    Andy Vidak, former State Senator: Vidak (R–Orosi) openly mused about mounting a Congressional bid on Facebook late Friday night.

    Clint Olivier, Clovis Unified school trustee, CEO of the Business Federation of the Central Valley: Olivier, a former TV reporter and anchor in both the Fresno and Bakersfield media markets, was a two-term Fresno City Council member who has taken his post-City Hall career to a business advocacy group with deep ties to the energy and agriculture sectors.

    Johnny Amaral, Chief of External Affairs of Friant Water Authority: Amaral, the first and longtime chief of staff to Nunes during his congressional career, left Capitol Hill to become a water warrior – first for Westlands Water District and now for Friant Water Authority.

    • Multiple Tulare County sources indicated that Amaral would have significant ability to raise money to mount a bid, courtesy of deep connections in the Valley’s agricultural industry and a long-standing network nationally due to his time with Nunes.
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