Former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield turned in his letter of resignation on Tuesday morning. He set his last day in Congress for Dec. 31. The move will trigger Gov. Gavin Newsom’s call for a special election.
“… I hereby submit my resignation effective on December 31st, 2023, as United States Representative of the 20th District of California. Attached is the letter I submitted to the Governor of California. It has been the honor of a lifetime to represent the great people and communities of Kern, San Luis Obispo, Los Angeles, Tulare, Fresno, and Kings counties over the past 17 years, and especially my hometown of Bakersfield and the Central Valley of the great state of California. Signed, Sincerely, Kevin McCarthy, Member of Congress.”
— Resignation letter read by House Clerk Tylease Alli on Tuesday morning
Special Election Timetable
Now that a resignation date has been set, Newsom will have 14 days — until Jan. 14, 2024 — to call for a special election.
When the resignation is official, California election law allows Newsom 14 days to call a special election. The election would take place on a Tuesday, 126 to 140 days after the declaration.
A primary would be held nine or 10 weeks prior, which could mean that the primary to fill the vacant seat through Jan. 3, 2025, could happen on the same ballot as the election for the full-term seat commencing that same day.
A special election is likely in May. The latest date Newsom could call for an election is May 21 (assuming he waits until Jan. 14) to call for the election; 140 days would be Sunday, June 2. Bringing it back to the prior Tuesday would be May 28, which is not allowed because it is a day after a holiday (Memorial Day).
That would make the latest day May 21. The primary would be March 19.
Newsom Could Consolidate the Primaries
This year’s regularly scheduled primary is March 5. If Newsom wants to consolidate the special election primary with the regular primary, the runoff would need to be scheduled for May 7. That would require Newsom to declare the special election between today (Dec. 19) and Jan. 2.
If a candidate wins a majority of votes in the primary, he or she would be declared the winner, and no special general election would be needed. If not, the top two vote-getters would advance to the special general election.
If the special election primary and general take place on March 5 and May 7, respectively, the nomination window would be held between Dec. 23 and Jan. 12.
Fresno County Clerk James Kus said a consolidated March 5 election date would save the county up to $300,000 just for his office.
Candidates for the Regular Election
Secretary of State Shirley Weber has until Dec. 28 to certify candidates for the regular election for McCarthy’s 20th Congressional District seat election of March 5.
Because McCarthy did not file to run for re-election, the deadline was Dec. 13.
Here is an unofficial list of candidates who appear to be actively running:
- Assemblyman Vince Fong, R-Bakersfield
- Tulare County Sheriff Mike Boudreaux, R-Springville
- Club One Casino owner Kyle Kirkland, R-Fresno
- Veteran Navy combat pilot and current businessman Matt Stoll, R-Visalia
- Businessman David Giglio, R-Madera
- California City Mayor Kelly Kulikoff, R-California City
- Businessman Stan Ellis, R-Bakersfield
- Nathan Wilkins, R (city unknown)
- Educator and 2022 candidate Marisa Wood, D-Bakersfield
- Andy Morales, D-Fresno
- Businessman T.J. Esposito, no party preference-Bakersfield
- Ben Dewell, No party preference-Tehachapi
The district is 46% Republican, 27% Democratic, and 18% no party preference.
CD 20 also skews to Kern County, where 51% of the district’s voters are registered. The district also includes the counties of Fresno (28%), Tulare (14%), and Kings (7%).
Fong Will File Lawsuit on Wednesday
On Friday, Weber declared that Fong wasn’t eligible to run for Congress because he already filed to run for re-election to the state Assembly.
Fong’s campaign says they will sue for the right to run for Congress in Sacramento County Superior Court on Wednesday morning.
His campaign said Fong is considering running in the special election but wants to settle the issue about running in the full-term election as well.
Boudreaux said he will wait for the governor to call for a special election for announcing his plans.
Wood said she will run in the special election.