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McCarthy Sets Resignation Date, Setting Up Special Election

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Former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield, turned in his resignation letter on Tuesday, Dec. 19, 2023. His last day in Congress will be Dec. 31. (AP File)
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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.

Curiosity drives David Taub. The award-winning journalist might be shy, but feels mighty with a recorder in his hand. He doesn't see it his job to "hold public officials accountable," but does see it to provide readers (and voters) the information needed to make intelligent choices. Taub has been honored with several writing awards from the California News Publishers Association. He's just happy to have his stories read. Joining GV Wire in 2016, Taub covers politics, government and elections, mainly in the Fresno/Clovis area. He also writes columns about local eateries (Appetite for Fresno), pro wrestling (Off the Bottom Rope), and media (Media Man). Prior to joining the online news source, Taub worked as a radio producer for KMJ and PowerTalk 96.7 in Fresno. He also worked as an assignment editor for KCOY-TV in Santa Maria, California, and KSEE-TV in Fresno. He has also worked behind the scenes for several sports broadcasts, including the NCAA basketball tournament, and the Super Bowl. When not spending time with his family, Taub loves to officially score Fresno Grizzlies games. Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, Taub is a die-hard Giants and 49ers fan. He graduated from the University of Michigan with dual degrees in communications and political science. Go Blue! You can contact David at 559-492-4037 or at Send an Email

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