The media in Washington, D.C., are increasingly speculating that longtime Rep. Kevin McCarthy might not run for re-election.
McCarthy, R-Bakersfield, represents parts of Clovis and Fresno in a gerrymandered Republican-safe district. He was ousted as Speaker of the House in October, after serving only nine months on the job.
The deadline to file for election is Dec. 8. If the incumbent does not run, the deadline is extended until Dec. 13.
If McCarthy exits, there is a deep GOP bench that can easily step in to replace him. Here is a list of potential contenders.
A former congressman himself, Nunes resigned in January 2022 to operate Donald Trump’s Truth Social Media. Nunes has the two biggest advantages of anyone in the field — name recognition and money. The latest finance report to the FEC shows Nunes with $11 million cash on hand as of Sept. 30.
Another former congresswoman (she won a special election succeeding Nunes), Conway has the name recognition and ability to win an election. She opted not to run for re-election. She reported only $13,000 cash on hand as of Dec. 31, 2022.
“If my service is needed, I’m okay with that,” Conway told Politics 101.
The state senator represents much of the same area as McCarthy and is in her final term in the Legislature. Grove plans to run for the Board of Equalization in 2026. She’s raised $50,000 for the account through June 30 and has more than $100,000 in other state campaign accounts.
The south Valley assemblyman announced this week he is not running again for a final term. He did say he will remain involved in public service. Does he know something? State campaign finance records show he has $74,000 cash on hand.
“If he is truly out, yes I would have to look at it,” Mathis said.
The Fresno assemblyman is termed out. He did flirt with the idea of running for Fresno County Supervisor before withdrawing. He ran for Congress in 2002, losing out to Nunes. He also ran in 2010, finishing second to Jeff Denham.
He has a campaign account for the 2026 Board of Equalization race and has nearly $400,000 cash on hand in his various state accounts.
The Tulare County sheriff flirted with running for the congressional seat vacated by Nunes in 2022 but decided not to run. He has been at the forefront of gun rights.
The former state senator from Fresno opted not to run for re-election when redistricting merged him with Shannon Grove’s district. He has won political races for Fresno City Council and Fresno County Supervisor but has been mostly quiet the last year.
Campaign finance records show him holding onto $678,000 in cash.
However, one source says he has no interest in returning to politics.
Other names floated around are Clovis Unified trustee Clint Olivier; Clovis councilmembers Diane Pearce and Vong Mounoutoua; former David Valadao congressional staffers Cole Rojewski and Tal Eslick; and water consultant and former Fresno County planning commissioner Austin Ewell.
Rojewski told Politics 101 that the timing is not right. Eslick said he is “100% no.” Pearce said she still supports McCarthy and is focusing on Clovis.
“I’m not in the habit of closing doors, though,” Pearce said.
Others Would Have to Make Snap Decision
Several other people would be viable challengers but have pledged to run for another office in the March primary. They would have to make a snap decision to switch elections.
A candidate can only run for one race at a time.
This list includes:
The current Fresno City Councilman filed to run for Fresno County Supervisor. It is already a bruising campaign against incumbent Steve Brandau and will likely get more heated. Fresno County Assessor Paul Dictos is also in the race.
Bredefeld says he is sticking with his supervisorial run.
The Bakersfield assemblyman filed to run for re-election. He has held Republican leadership roles in Sacramento.
The Fresno County supervisor from Clovis plans to run for re-election. He ran for Congress in 2022 against fellow Republican Tom McClintock but did not advance past the primary.
Pete Vander Poel
The four-term Tulare County supervisor filed to run for re-election. He said he is focused on that race.
Others Who Filed
Several candidates hoping to knock out McCarthy already filed to run for the Congressional District 20 seat, which covers parts of Fresno, Tulare, Kern, and Kings counties.
Marisa Wood, a Bakersfield teacher, ran against McCarthy in 2022 and lost 67% to 33%. She is a Democrat.
Fresno Democrat John Burrows is a staffer for Fresno City Councilman Nelson Esparza. He has raised the most money of a McCarthy opponent — $281,588 through Sept. 30, with $98,082 cash on hand.
Madera Republican David Giglio ran in CD 13 in 2022 but did not advance beyond the primary. He has earned a few right-wing endorsements so far.
Fresno Democrat Andy Morales was one of the first candidates to announce his candidacy against McCarthy.
Others who have pulled papers in Kern County are Ben Dewell, Joe Murillo, Mohammad Arif, and Sarah Jacqueline Goldberg.