California Assemblyman Vince Fong (R) isn’t eligible to run for Congress in 2024, the state Secretary of State determined Friday, throwing Rep. Kevin McCarthy’s (R-Calif.) succession into question.
Fong, a longtime McCarthy ally and former senior staffer, was believed to be the favorite to run for California’s 20th District, after the former Speaker announced he would step down from Congress at the end of this month.
He filed for candidacy on Monday after another McCarthy ally considered and turned down a bid.
But, the Secretary of State determined that since Fong is already on the ballot in California for his Assembly reelection, he cannot be removed from that race to run in a different one, according to state law.
“State law prohibits any candidate from filing nomination papers for more than one office at the same election,” the Secretary of State’s office said in a statement. “As such, the Secretary of State’s office has determined that Mr. Fong’s filed nomination papers for Congressional District 20 were improperly submitted.”
State Sen. Shannon Grove (R) was initially pegged to be McCarthy’s likely replacement, but she unexpectedly turned down a run for Congress on Monday, causing Fong to jump into the race/
McCarthy quickly endorsed Fong, despite concerns over the legality of his candidacy.
Fong’s campaign said Friday it plans to challenge the secretary’s determination in court, calling the move an “unprecedented interference” in the candidate filing process.
“Voters in the 20th Congressional District have a right to choose the candidate of their choice to represent them in Congress,” Fong said in a statement. “I will fight the Secretary of State’s misguided decision and do whatever it takes to give voters in our community a real choice in this election because the voters choose our elected officials, not Sacramento.”