McCarthy Protégé Deemed Ineligible for Congress Bid – Vince Fong, a California legislator, faced legal issues with his eleventh-hour bid to replace Rep. Kevin McCarthy, according to the California Secretary of State’s office on Friday. This development abruptly halted the Bakersfield Republican’s congressional candidate, leading Fong to express his intention to file a lawsuit to remain on the ballot.
Questions regarding Fong’s eligibility arose immediately upon his filing to run on Monday. This move was prompted by the unexpected rush for candidates following the announcement of former speaker McCarthy’s decision to step down from Congress. McCarthy’s resignation, announced so close to the filing deadline, triggered a chaotic chain reaction, potentially leaving him without a carefully chosen and well-positioned successor.
Initially, Fong, formerly McCarthy’s district director, excluded himself from the race to succeed his political mentor. He expressed intent to seek reelection to the state Assembly instead. However, he changed his stance when the anticipated frontrunner, state Sen. Shannon Grove, unexpectedly decided not to enter the race. Although Fong had already met the qualifications to run for the Assembly, state law prohibits candidates from withdrawing after the filing deadline last Friday.
Despite this, Fong chose to proceed, submitting his candidacy to Kern County election officials, with McCarthy promptly endorsing him. A competitor, far-right conservative David Giglio, threatened legal action if Fong remained on the ballot. Several other contenders, such as Tulare County Sheriff Michael Boudreaux and Kyle Kirkland, a prominent Fresno casino magnate, entered the race for the vacant seat in a strongly conservative area of the Central Valley.
Following a week of ambiguity, Secretary of State Shirley Weber’s office definitively affirmed that California election law forbids Fong from pursuing a congressional candidacy. “The Secretary of State’s office has determined that Mr. Fong’s filed nomination papers for Congressional District 20 were improperly submitted,” it said in a statement.
“Mr. Fong will not appear on the list of certified candidates for Congressional District 20 that our office will transmit to county election officials on candidates on December 28.” Fong said he will not stand down, and his campaign blasted Weber’s move as “an unprecedented interference in the candidate filing process.” The campaign said it planned to challenge the decision in court.
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“Voters in the 20th Congressional District have a right to choose the candidate of their choice to represent them in Congress,” Fong said in a statement. “I will fight the Secretary of State’s misguided decision and do whatever it takes to give voters in our community a real choice in this election because the voters choose our elected officials, not Sacramento.”