Home>Articles>Assemblyman Vince Fong Wins Special Election to Complete Kevin McCarthy’s House Term

Assemblyman Vince Fong. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for California Globe)

Assemblyman Vince Fong Wins Special Election to Complete Kevin McCarthy’s House Term

Fong defeats Tulare County Sheriff Mike Boudreaux In 20th Congressional District Election

By Evan Symon, May 22, 2024 2:48 pm

Assemblyman Vince Fong (R-Bakersfield) defeated Tulare County Sheriff Mike Boudreaux (R) in the 20th Congressional District special election on Tuesday, officially replacing former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy in the district.

The 20th special district race was the most covered Congressional special election in the country this year thanks to both the election adding another GOP member to the party’s thin lead in the House, as well as the drama going on behind the scenes where Fong was nearly not allowed to run in the race.

Since December, the question of if Fong could appear in both elections in the November 2024 ballot or if he could only run for the Assembly was a major question. Before December, Fong  jumped back and forth between running for McCarthy’s seat or sticking to running for reelection to the Assembly, because of both McCarthy being unsure of resigning and Senator Shannon Grove (R-Bakersfield) not being clear about running herself. On December 6th, McCarthy announced that he would retire at the end of the year, prompting the safe GOP district to suddenly be open. Numerous candidates quickly jumped into the race, and following Senator Grove declining the run the next day, the field only opened up wider because of many assuming that Grove was McCarthy’s “heir apparent”. This is when Boudreaux entered, becoming an early frontrunner in the race.

Fong and the two races

Fong originally announced that he wouldn’t be running, instead saying that he would stick to the Assembly. But with a race still devoid of any major candidates with prior elected experience, Fong changed course on December 11th, announcing that he would run after all. Secretary of State Shirley Weber quickly halted Fong’s ambitions a week later noting that Fong would be breaking state law by running for two races at the same time, and barring him from running for Congress. At the same time, he was allowed to run for the 20th House District special election to fill out McCarthy’s term, as the election would occur in late March and a runoff in May.

The Sacramento Superior Court ruled weeks later that Fong would be eligible for both races in November. SOS Weber appealed. Both the state and Fong made it clear that they wanted a ruling before April 12th, as that was the day that final election totals would be due. In the ensuing months, the case languished in the 3rd District Court of Appeal. Fong managed to secure one of the run-off election spots in late March following the special election along with Boudreaux, but his team was still committed to the longer term April appeals case. However, the California 3rd District Court of Appeal ruled in favor of Fong last month despite heavy resistance from Weber, forcing Weber to abandon the appeal and finally allow Fong to run in both houses earlier this month.

All this time, Fong led in polls against Boudreaux, despite possibly not even being on the ballot at all. This led to the election on Tuesday where, as of noon Wednesday, Fong is ahead by a total of 41,037 to 27,097, or 60.2% to 39.8%. The lead was seen as insurmountable last night, with all major outlets calling the race within hours of the polls closing. Fong’s win will allow him to be Congressman for the rest of McCarthy’s original term until January 2025.

In a statement, Fong said, “I am filled with humility and gratitude tonight as early results show that voters have overwhelmingly selected me to serve as their voice in Washington, D.C. With the campaign over, the real work now begins.”


“In Congress, I will remain focused on solving the tough issues facing our community – securing the border, supporting small businesses, bringing investment in water storage and infrastructure, unleashing our energy industry, and keeping the United States safe amidst grave security threats facing our nation.”

“Now is the time to unite and work together to fight for our way of life.”

Tulare County Sheriff Mike Boudreaux (Photo: Tulare County Sheriffs Department)

Boudreaux, meanwhile, conceded the race. While he hinted at possibly not continuing on towards the November race for the full House term against Fong  and needs to look  out for his donors, he also said that he’s competitive and will likely continue the next race against Fong in November.

“I’ve already telephoned Vince, and we had a very great conversation with each other and gave him my congratulations,” said Boudreaux on Tuesday night. “So, in this case, I don’t know that moving forward would be really responsible to those who would be spending money on me. So, we’re going to have to evaluate and see what that looks like.

“We were going head to head with money raised as individuals. We were right along with him. But when the political action committees got involved with McCarthy and the large amounts of money, that is very difficult to overcome. I don’t know that that’s the best thing for our country when you have money that’s able to buy a candidate. At this point we are, we’ll make a decision in the next couple of days about what that looks like.”

National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) Spokesman Ben Petersen also noted in a statement that “Congratulations to Vince Fong on his win in the Special Election. Vince follows in the footsteps of giants like Bill Thomas and Kevin McCarthy—but he is prepared for the fight, having represented the Valley in the state Assembly. No one is better positioned to take up the mantle for Valley families.”

Boudreaux V. Fong: Round 2

Pollsters in the area told the Globe on Wednesday that should Boudreaux press on, he will all but assuredly face a more difficult election leading into the November general election.

“Fong is now going to be the incumbent in that race,” said Central Valley pollster Oscar Salazar to the Globe on Wednesday. “So that will give him some more momentum. And you know, these special elections almost never have the same turnout as primary or general elections. But they are often previews. And if Tuesday was any indicator, Boudreaux will be facing a significant challenge. He’s at around 40%.”

“I don’t blame him for wanting to look at all this over again. The two aren’t at each others throats or anything, but it is a Congressional campaign, so a significant amount of money will still be needed. Not to mention support.”

“Broadly, the GOP is happy they got another House seat back in as a buffer. It’s 217-213, and every additional Republican  helps keep that majority. At least until November.”

Final results for the special election is due to come out soon.

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Evan Symon
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