UNITED STATES NEWS

California sets special election for US House seat left vacant by exit of former Speaker McCarthy

Jan 8, 2024, 6:08 PM

FILE - Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., speaks to reporters hours after he was ousted as Speaker of t...

FILE - Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., speaks to reporters hours after he was ousted as Speaker of the House, Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2023, at the Capitol in Washington. McCarthy opted to leave effective Dec. 31 rather than serve among the rank-and-file. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)
Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — California Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday set a mid-March special election date to fill the U.S. House seat vacated by former Speaker Kevin McCarthy.

In a statement, Newsom set the March 19 primary date for the 20th Congressional District contest. If no candidate wins a majority of the vote, the top two vote-getters would advance to a May 21 matchup to fill the seat.

The solidly Republican district is anchored in Bakersfield, which cuts through parts of several counties in the state’s interior farm belt. The seat is expected to stay in GOP hands.

McCarthy announced in early December that he would step down, two months after his historic ouster as House speaker. The announcement capped a stunning end to a House career for the onetime deli counter owner, who ascended through state and national politics to become second in line to the presidency, until a cluster of hard-right conservatives engineered his removal in October.

McCarthy is the only speaker in history to be voted out of the job.

Newsom scheduled the election two weeks after the state’s March 5 presidential primary, which will give candidates additional time to campaign for the vacant seat and reduce the chance for voter confusion with the primary election for the presidential race and other 2024 contests, including state legislative seats.

The term for the seat vacated by McCarthy runs through January 2025.

McCarthy’s departure set off a scramble to replace him that is being sorted out in court. A state judge earlier ruled that a McCarthy protégé, Republican Assemblyman Vince Fong, could appear on the ballot as a candidate for the former speaker’s seat, even though he earlier filed for reelection for his Assembly seat. That decision is being appealed by the state.

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California sets special election for US House seat left vacant by exit of former Speaker McCarthy