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Republican Vince Fong wins congressional special election, will replace Kevin McCarthy

Fong, a former McCarthy staffer, has finished ahead of Tulare County Sheriff Mike Boudreaux in three elections in a single year. In November, Boudreaux will get one last chance.

(CN) — California Assemblyman Vince Fong is heading to Washington, D.C., after winning a special election Tuesday night, handily defeating Tulare County Sheriff Mike Boudreaux. By Wednesday morning, with roughly 87% of the votes counted, Fong, a Republican, was holding on to a 20-point lead.

Fong will replace former Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy and finish out his term in office. To win his first full two-year term, he will have to defeat Boudreaux yet again in November — the fourth time this year the two Republicans will face each other on a ballot.

"With the campaign over, the real work now begins," Fong said in a statement. "In Congress, I will remain focused on solving the tough issues facing our community — securing the border, supporting small business, bringing investment in water storage and infrastructure, unleashing our energy industry, and keeping the United States safe amidst the grave security threats facing our nation."

McCarthy represented the 20th Congressional District in California's Central Valley for 17 years, before becoming the first house speaker in U.S. history to be ousted from the job, thanks to a faction of hard-line conservatives. He resigned from Congress two months later, leaving the office vacant.

Fong, a former McCarthy staffer who was elected to the Assembly in 2016, initially was barred from running for Congress because he'd already filed papers to run for reelection to the Legislature. State law had long barred candidates from running for more than one office in the same election, but after Fong sued, a state court judge agreed — minutes before the filing deadline — that the law no longer applies now that California has adopted the top-two primary system.

California Secretary of State Shirley Weber has appealed the ruling.

McCarthy endorsed Fong, as did Donald Trump, who called Fong "a true Republican." His campaign raised roughly $1.5 million, more than three times that of Boudreaux's, and benefitted from nearly a million dollars in spending from an independent super PAC that's fueled in part by a political action committee aligned with McCarthy.

When Fong is sworn in, he will boost the Republican Party's slim majority in Congress to five seats. As of Wednesday, there were 217 Republicans and 213 Democrats in the House, plus five vacancies, including McCarthy's former seat.

Boudreaux made it clear in a written statement after the election results became apparent that he would still make every effort to defeat Fong in November.

“California faces a crime crisis unlike any other in its history," he said. "That’s why I will be stepping up the fight for a safer Valley and safer California.”

Fong has finished ahead of Boudreaux in each of their three elections this year: the primary special election, Tuesday's special election runoff and the regularly scheduled primary in March.

Follow @hillelaron
Categories / Politics, Regional

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