California Judge Decides Vince Fong Can Run for Congress in 2024

Fong first declines, then announces candidacy following Rep. Kevin McCarthy’s Resignation announcement

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Assemblyman Vince Fong, the Bakersfield representative who Congressman Kevin McCarthy endorsed to succeed him, got good news Thursday when a Sacramento Superior Court Judge ruled he can run for Congress.

The question of his candidacy arose when the Republican Assemblyman announced he would run to replace Kevin McCarthy in the U.S. House of Representatives, after only a few days before, declining to run, saying it wasn’t his time.

Assemblyman Fong, who is serving his fourth term in the California State Assembly, released the following statement December 7th on his plans for the 2024 election cycle:

“Representing the residents of the Central Valley is an honor and privilege. In the past 24 hours, I have been humbled to receive an outpouring of encouragement to run for Congress. I want to thank everyone who reached out for your kind words and offers of support.

“After giving it thoughtful and prayerful consideration, my family and I have decided that now is not my time, and I will not be running for Congress in 2024.

Following today’s ruling by Sacramento Superior Court Judge Shelleyanne Chang, Fong said:

“Today’s ruling is a victory for the voters of the 20th Congressional District, who will now have the opportunity to select the candidate of their choice in the March 5th election. I am grateful that Judge Chang upheld the integrity of our elections and sided with Central Valley voters against an overreaching Sacramento politician.”

“I look forward to getting back on the campaign trail and working as hard as I can over the next several months to once again win the trust of Central Valley voters and earn the right to represent them in Congress.”

The issue with Fong’s announcement to run for Congress was that Fong had already filed paperwork to run for the Assembly, and the deadline had passed to back out.

Secretary of State Shirley Weber announced Fong could not run for congress because California law does not allow candidates to appear on the same ballot twice for different jobs. The state also prohibits candidates from dropping out of a race after the filing deadline closes.

The California Secretary of State said, “no withdrawal is allowed, and a person cannot run for more than one office in the same election.”

The Globe reported that Fong would likely need to go to court and have a judge decide if he can decline the Assembly race in order to run for Congress. And he did.

The CAGOP defended Fong’s decision to run for Congress, claiming the Secretary of State’s decision was “egregious:”

On Thursday, California Republican Party Chairwoman Jessica Millan Patterson weighed in on Fong’s court win:

“Today’s ruling was a victory for the voters of Congressional District 20 who will now get to decide who can best represent them from a full slate of candidates. The Sacramento Democrat machine tried and failed to interfere in a district that heavily favors Republicans, but the court rightly saw the legitimacy of Assemblyman Fong’s candidacy and put an end to Democrats’ political games. We look forward to a robust campaign in CA-20 as voters – not Sacramento Democrats – choose a leader to send to Washington on their behalf.”

The Globe spoke to political legal experts and reported:

“The law is very clear on this,” said Mark Georgiou, a legal advisor to political campaigns in several western states, to the Globe on Monday. “What happened is Fong wanted the Assembly again and assumed that McCarthy would just run again, or if he didn’t, that Grove would go in. That’s what that 7th announcement was all about. Then Grove bailed, and Fong saw an opening. He obviously wants the House seat, but he just didn’t foresee the race opening up this year. And honestly, an open year was his in, as strong GOP seats in California don’t open too often.”

“Honestly, he declared too early, especially with McCarthy facing all that heat earlier this year, and wanted to kind of reneg on it for the bigger seat. The law says differently. Bad luck, but he could still run for a higher office in the future. If he had grace, he could have played being too late to the punch with a joke, back a candidate, and then a higher office later on. He went this route instead though, and predictably, was stopped pretty quickly. Him and the CAGOP and McCarthy can go on about how unfair this is, but in all honesty, it’s just the law. It’s like getting mad at the tree when you veer your car off the road into it.”

Congressional District 20 is a safe Republican district, so is the real issue — is the Kevin McCarthy camp trying to maintain a hold on the district and power in Congress with a friendly? Fong worked as McCarthy’s district direct director for 10 years, and is assumed by all to be loyal to the McCarthy machine… especially after CD 20 candidate David Giglio’s tweet:

“Do you want to know why people don’t take Republicans seriously when we talk about election integrity? It’s because we have corrupt establishment Republicans out there who think it’s ok to ignore/violate election laws to benefit themselves while laughably claiming to be doing so out of concern for election integrity. The GOP has spent 3 years chastising Democrats for ignoring election laws during the 2020 election to benefit themselves and now here we are with Republicans doing the same thing. Behavior such as this makes us look like fools.”

Click here to read the full article in the California Globe


  1. Rico Lagattuta says

    A judge with sense and sensibility in California. How rare!

  2. Treva Bennett says

    Get off the attack on Fong. This was just a case of bad timing. There was no malice intended in Fongs part. He simply had a better opportunity. Any reasonable person would understand. Fortunately he got a reasonable judge. It’s a wonderment. He’ll win this in a landslide. That’s the reason he was barred by the SOS. Now if the SOD oops SOS would clean up the voter rolls and change reporting rules for dec’d it would be appreciated. I’m personally sick of all of these overvotes that have been going on and on and on. More votes than registered voters.

  3. Leo of Sacramento says

    Treva? I get why Mr Fong wants to jump ship. Maybe he has a better gig? Maybe, he can see into a better future? Maybe, he can help farther up the food chain. Maybe, maybe. We can do that all day long, maybe’s.

    YOU eloquently stated: “He simply had a better opportunity.”

    Ah, the bain of many a politician. Who exactly, was he helping, by running for assembly? Him or his constitutes? What did he tell them, as he looked for and sought after, their vote? What will he say now, as he moves towards a higher office/opportunity, as you call it? Is this about his community or himself?

    Funny how the DEM’s don’t seem to have these issues. They run, and that’s it. It’s almost as if the game is over, before it’s even announced. I get your enthusiasm? I really do. But this smells, of political opportunity, from a political hack. This is why, in my mind, people are fed up, with politics in general.
    Larry Elder. ring a bell? It was reported that, “The California Republican Party did not endorse Elder (or any other candidate) in the recall, but its future will be scrutinized closely.”
    Was his message on track? I don’t know, as I can honestly say, I was not a Larry fan. I wasn’t too impressed when I DID hear his stump speech.
    Brian Dahle, remember him? Folks liked him. 4.4 million voted for him. He out did even what Republicans expected from him. So, what happened?
    In MY opinion, he wasn’t a very strong candidate. That so called, debate on the radio 1 on 1 vs newsome?
    Our candidate sounded weak, let newsome strike the tone, set the tone, and got squashed. In MY opinion, he didn’t fight back hard enough. I’d never heard of this Senator from Northern California. Was he a good one? They claim he was! But, they forgot to add, he was termed out of office. Oh, so in MY opinion, he was ‘job hunting’. EEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH……that won’t help. So, how do you account for 4.4 million votes?? At that time, nearly 36 MILLION voters were registered, yet only 15 MILLION voted?? Rough counting, nearly 55% of voters stayed home and did NOT vote, one way or the other. 55% !! That’s a LOT of potential, that wasn’t even engaged.

    I’ve been told, it ONLY matters, on how much money you can raise. The message is irrelevant.

    If that mentality is true? WE, as a party, are in trouble. WE aren’t going to make much of a difference, if that mentality holds true. Keeping ‘safe Republican districts only’, isn’t a winning strategy either, in MY opinion. Why aren’t we challenging the DEM’s in THEIR area’s?? Are we not able? Is our message too vague? Did we just, give up? Are we just happy with the less than 30 seats in our legislature? I’m not.

    • Treva Bennett says

      Doesn’t matter how much money is raised when apostasy sets in. Voters are disenfranchised to the max. Volunteer get in the phone bank and listen to the voters. The media and silicone valley do their best to suppress Republicans. Let voters know they are being heard. With them we can turn Calif. around. I do think we have some bad leadership at times and everyone plays follow the leader supporting some people that should not be in leadership roles. Still, there are good people that need to stand up. There is so much talent out there not being recognized, educated or utilized. The issue is bringing them together to work as one mighty force. Speaking up and out at the grass root level. Educating the voters. For instance. You see Trump rallies. He’s educating the voters. These are not just vote for me rallies. He’s pointing out the wholesale corruption of our government. He’s awakened the silent majority. He’s explaining how he’ll fix the issues to some degree. He can’t possibly explain all but he’ll get them to vote. He’s restored faith hope and love of country. It can be done in California.

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