Bakersfield Assemblyman Vince Fong wants to run to replace Kevin McCarthy in Congress

(Rich Pedroncelli/Associated Press)

Bakersfield Assemblyman Vince Fong wants to run to replace Kevin McCarthy in Congress

Election 2024

Laura J. Nelson

Dec. 11, 2023

Bakersfield Assemblymember Vince Fong said Monday he is joining the race to replace Rep. Kevin McCarthy in Congress, becoming the highest-profile Republican vying for the Central Valley seat in the House of Representatives.

When McCarthy announced last week that he planned to retire by the end of the year, Fong, 44, said he would not run for the seat in California’s 20th Congressional District. But on Monday morning, Fong said he had changed his mind.

“It is my strong belief that the Central Valley must continue to be represented by proven, conservative leaders in Congress,” Fong said. “In light of recent developments and in an effort to unite our community at this critical time in our country’s history, I have decided to run for Congress in 2024.”

He added, “I have spent my entire career fighting for Central Valley families. I am eager and ready to take the fight to Washington and deliver meaningful results for our community.”

Born and raised in Bakersfield, Fong began his career working for McCarthy’s predecessor, then-Rep. Bill Thomas then served as McCarthy’s district director for nearly a decade. Fong was elected to the State Assembly in 2016.

It’s a path that mirrors that of McCarthy, who began his political career in Thomas’


office, after which he served four years in the State Assembly before running for Congress.

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

In Sacramento, Fong has largely focused on public safety, water and fiscal issues, generally shying away from culture war


that dominate some parts of the GOP. He carried bills that sought to suspend a gasoline tax that funds road repairs and divert money away from high-speed rail, both of which were unsuccessful.

Fong has served as vice chairman of the Assembly Budget Committee, a position he has used to advocate for conservative fiscal policies even as Republicans have little power to influence decisions in the Capitol.

Fong currently represents about 60% of voters in California’s 20th Congressional District, his campaign said.

In Washington, Fong said he would focus on “defending the Central Valley’s water and energy resources,” focus on border security and oppose “new taxes and the reckless spending that has fueled inflation and has caused our cost of living to skyrocket’.

Fong’s announcement came hours after California


Senator Shannon Grove


seen as one

front side-

runner for the chair, said she wouldn’t run.

In a statement late Sunday


Grove said “after prayerful consideration and thoughtful conversations” with her family, she had decided to retire from ministry

her term in the

California Senate


that ends in 2026.

Kevin McCarthy plans to retire from Congress at the end of this year

“I will keep my promise to those who elected me to the California Senate, and I will continue to fight for the needs of the people of the Central Valley,” Grove said. “Our district nourishes and nourishes the nation, and I intend to continue fighting for those interests!”

forty 40

State senators, I have a lot of work ahead of me.”

Candidates have until Wednesday to enter the race for McCarthy’s seat.

Times Sacramento bureau chief Laurel Rosenhall contributed to this report.


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