Who will replace Bakersfield Republican Kevin McCarthy in Congress? Here are possible candidates

SACRAMENTO — U.S. Rep. Kevin McCarthy’s decision to retire is not a surprise after he became the first speaker of the House to be ousted by a vote of the chamber, and provides a rare opportunity for an ambitious California Republican to seek higher office.

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In a state where Democratic voters outnumber Republicans by about 2 to 1, only 12 of the 54 politicians representing the state in Washington are in the GOP — so those openings don’t surface often.

McCarthy, 58, has had the good fortune of representing one of the most conservative congressional districts in a state dominated by Democrats. Former President Trump won the district by a near 2-to-1 margin over President Biden in 2020.

So whoever voters pick might stick around for a while.

After serving as Republican leader in the California Assembly, McCarthy in 2006 became one of the few GOP newcomers to be elected to Congress in a year Democrats swept Republicans out of power. There might be some déjà vu in the future.

Two prominent Republicans who could jump into the race to replace McCarthy also represent the Bakersfield area in the state Legislature, including Sen. Shannon Grove, a former minority leader in the California Senate. And it’s possible the Democrats might win back control of the House in the 2024 election. The vacancy also may tempt some former members of Congress who represented districts in the Central Valley. Devin Nunes, a Trump supporter who now serves as chief executive of his media company, still has $11 million socked away in a congressional campaign account, according to the latest report filed with the Federal Election Commission.

Bakersfield is the city with the most voters in McCarthy’s 20th Congressional District, which includes portions of Fresno, Kern, Kings and Tulare counties in the San Joaquin Valley. Along with the southern tip of the Sierra Nevada and a sliver of the Mojave Desert, the district swallows up a major portion of California oil country and some of the most productive — and lucrative — farmland in the nation.

So who will represent this vast district?

First elected to the Assembly in 2016, Fong serves as the vice chair of the budget and transportation committees.

The Republican began his career in politics as a staff member for longtime Bakersfield Rep. Bill Thomas, who served as a chair to the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, where Fong worked on international trade policy. Fong then served as district director for McCarthy, advising the congressman on issues affecting the Central Valley and helping serve constituents.

Fong has been a vocal critic of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s push for restricting oil production in California and the administration’s overall energy policies, and has warned that the state’s electricity grid is not capable of supporting the administration’s mandated transition to electric vehicles. Fong also has criticized the spending of state money by Newsom and the California Legislature’s Democratic leadership.

Grove, who once described herself as a “gun-carrying, tongue-talking, spirit-filled believer,” served as leader of the California Senate Republicans for two years.

The Bakersfield Republican is a U.S. Army veteran and served six years in the Assembly before her election to the state Senate in 2018. An enthusiastic supporter of Trump before and after he lost the 2020 presidential election, Grove called him “the greatest of all time” and reiterated false claims that President Biden won the election because of voter fraud.

Grove is a staunch defender of the California oil industry, a critical economic force in her Bakersfield-area Senate district. She has opposed mandatory vaccinations for schoolchildren, including the COVID-19 vaccine, and this year successfully pushed through legislation to increase penalties for child sex traffickers.

Republican Nathan Magsig is a member of the Fresno County Board of Supervisors who unsuccessfully ran for Congress last year for the seat occupied by Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Elk Grove).

He has acted as a conservative firebrand in the Fresno area, voting earlier this year to sue the state of California over a law that requires cities to eliminate the Native American slur “squaw” from geographic features and place names. He has also echoed Trumpisms about unfounded election fraud claims.

The former youth pastor who also served as mayor of conservative Clovis was a staunch McCarthy supporter, telling The Times earlier this month: “My focus now is to show my support for him.”

Click here to read the full article in the LA Times

Comments

  1. Tired of LIARS and CHEATS says

    Sorry – but Buyden DID lose the 2020 election. It was RIGGED – starting on the East Coast and climaxing here in sleazy CA. Although Hawaii most likely helped, it probably wasn’t necessary!!

  2. I don’t care as long as it’s NOT another RINO!!! I’m sick and tired of these communist fascist racist lying democrats in disguise who infiltrate the GOP. I think we are now an official communist nation……the democrat doctrine, ” You will own nothing, eat bugs, and be happy”!!!

  3. McCarthy has sadly proven his critics correct: that it was all about his power and ego— not his constituents or our nation. He could have continued to serve in what capacity he could— an honor bestowed on but a few. But instead, he manipulated and controlled the CAGOP- supported RINOS, and was the key leader to see the decline of the Republican Party in CA. Take the Travis Allen for Governor campaign: Allen had overwhelming grassroots and County GOP endorsements- leftist media acknowledged he would be a threat to Newsom. So McCarthy lied to Trump about Cox- and forced state elected and consultants/staff to raise a proxy war to stop a populist movement in CA. Sad.

    He could have righted this now as a new man, post Speakership. He could have proved them all wrong and show leadership and the fight to eliminate the Swamp. Instead- he proved them all right.

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