- Former Speaker Kevin McCarthy endorsed Calif. Assemblyman Vince Fong to succeed him in Congress.
- But the California Secretary of State’s office said that Fong is ineligible to run for the seat.
- Fong had already filed to run in his Assembly district, and he can’t appear as a congressional candidate as well.
In his waning days in office, former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy threw his support behind California state Assemblyman Vince Fong to succeed him in the deep red 20th Congressional district.
But the California Secretary of State’s office on Friday said Fong, who had previously filed to run for reelection in the Bakersfield-based 32nd state Assembly district, could not run for the soon-to-be-open congressional seat.
Fong had initially declined to enter the congressional race, as many observers expected state Senator Shannon Grove to jump into the contest. But after Grove passed on a run, Fong changed his mind and filed to succeed McCarthy, for whom he previously served as a district director.
McCarthy, who was ousted as speaker in October after a tumultuous nine-month stint leading the chamber, endorsed Fong earlier this week.
However, the last day for candidates to withdraw from the race was December 8, which was also the candidate filing deadline, so Fong is currently set to be on the ballot solely for his state Assembly race.
And California state law does not allow for candidates to appear on the same ballot for two different contests, which Secretary of State Shirley Weber’s office said in a statement.
“State law prohibits any candidate from filing nomination papers for more than one office at the same election,” the office said. “As such, the Secretary of State’s office has determined that Mr. Fong’s filed nomination papers for Congressional District 20 were improperly submitted.”
“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,” the office added.
Fong, who has compiled a conservative record in the California Assembly, said in a statement he would challenge the Secretary of State’s determination “imminently” and charged that it was an “unprecedented interference in the candidate filing process.”
“Assemblyman Fong has qualified for the ballot and the voters of the 20th Congressional District deserve the opportunity to select the candidate of their choice,” he added.
Candidates set to appear on the upcoming congressional ballot include Tulare County Sheriff Mike Boudreaux, businessman David Giglio, public school teacher Marisa Wood, and security officer Andy Morales.