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Fong elected to fill McCarthy’s seat in California

State legislator also had backing from Trump and House GOP leaders

Republican Vince Fong speaks in the California Assembly on April 11.
Republican Vince Fong speaks in the California Assembly on April 11. (Rich Pedroncelli/The Associated Press)

Vince Fong, a former aide to two powerful House leaders, will fill the seat his former bosses once held after he won a special election in California on Tuesday.

Fong, a member of the state Assembly, defeated Tulare County Sheriff Mike Boudreaux, a fellow Republican, to fill the 20th District seat. The seat has been vacant since the December resignation of Fong’s onetime boss, former Speaker Kevin McCarthy. 

Fong had 60.5 percent of the vote and Boudreaux 39.5 percent when the Associated Press called the race at 11:17 p.m. Eastern on Tuesday.

A Bakersfield, Calif., native, Fong worked as a staffer for Rep. Bill Thomas, R-Calif., when he chaired the Ways and Means Committee during the George W. Bush administration. After McCarthy succeeded Thomas, Fong served as his district director. McCarthy’s battles with his party’s conservative wing led to him being the first speaker ousted from the post. After he resigned, he backed Fong to succeed him in the House. 

In a blow to Boudreaux, Fong was also endorsed by former President Donald Trump in February. Fong also cited endorsements on his campaign website from eight of the 11 California Republicans in Congress, and he had the backing of Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., Majority Leader Steve Scalise, R-La., and Whip Tom Emmer, R-Minn.

“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,” National Republican Congressional Committee spokesperson Ben Petersen said in a statement. “No one is better positioned to take up the mantle for Valley families.”

Fong will serve the remainder of McCarthy’s term, and Republicans will outnumber Democrats in the House, 218-213, when he is sworn in. 

Fong and Boudreaux also finished first and second, with 42 percent and 24 percent, respectively, in the 11-candidate field in the all-party March primary. They will face each other again in November for a full term that starts next year.

Fong was elected to the state Assembly in 2016, and had already filed to run for reelection when McCarthy quit. He had to get a court order to be allowed on the ballot to run for Congress as well.

Rep. Tom Emmer’s state is corrected in this report.

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