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 February 23, 2024

Trump backs Assemblyman Vince Fong in the race for former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy's seat

Former President Donald Trump endorsed Assemblyman Vince Fong in the race to fill retiring Rep. Kevin McCarthy's seat, the Fresno Bee reported. The California Republican retired in 2023 after he was replaced as House Speaker.

On Tuesday, Trump said that "now is the time to unite around Vince Fong and elect a true Republican to this seat" in a post on his Truth Social. Fong, who serves in California’s 20th Congressional District, was previously an aide to McCarthy and is his pick for a successor.

"Vince was one of only 6 Republicans in the State Assembly to stand with me, and reject the Second Impeachment Hoax. In Congress, Vince will work with me to Grow the Economy, Lower your Taxes, Cut Burdensome Regulations, Champion American Energy, and Protect and Defend the Second Amendment, which is under siege by the Radical Left," Trump wrote. Fong thanked him on X, formerly Twitter.

Fong Faces Foes

Trump's endorsement helps as Fong is up against Tulare County Sheriff Mike Boudreaux, a law enforcement veteran of nearly 40 years. The sheriff has an edge after receiving the endorsement of two other candidates, David Giglio and T.J. Esposito, who had dropped out of the race.

"Despite initially expressing some concerns regarding Sheriff Boudreaux’s motives for entering this race, I can now say with complete certainty that he is a good man and is in this race for the right reasons," Giglio, an America First Republican, said in a statement. This comes after several others also quit and gave their support to the 56-year-old sheriff.

This was another tough blow after GOP State Sen. Shannon Grove and Kern County’s Sheriff Donny Youngblood both dropped out and endorsed Boudreaux. Both candidates hail from Fong's home county and previously worked with him.

Fong had even chosen not to run while Grove was still in the race and only announced his candidacy after she ended hers. However, Fong previously received the endorsement of former GOP candidate Stan Ellis.

Because of McCarthy's retirement, the district will hold two primaries to fill the seat. The first on March 5 will be for a standard two-year term beginning in January 2025 while the March 19 primary will choose who will finish out McCarthy's current term.

The Legal Battle

Much like Trump, Fong will have to wade through a legal mess before hoping to take office. California Secretary of State Shirley Weber challenged Fong's candidacy due to a filing issue.

Fong had already filed to run for re-election in the Assembly when he threw in for McCarthy's district in December. Weber said Fong was ineligible to run as he was still on the Assembly ballot and could not be a candidate for both, nor could he be removed from his original spot.

The Sacramento County Superior Court sided with Fong in a legal challenge and allowed him to run for Congress. However, Weber is currently appealing that decision and could ultimately bar Fong from November's general election ballot.

The good news is that a poll in January had Fong as the favorite, with 27% of those polled choosing him over Boudreaux and Marisa Wood, a Democrat and teacher, who each received 11%. Still, 35% reported they were undecided at the time which leaves the door wide open.

Trump's endorsement may be exactly what Fong needs at this crucial time. Republicans are tired of electing politicians who reject the will of voters, and Fong's loyalty to the former president indicates that he's not about to cut and run for Trump or his base.

Written By:
Christine Favocci

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