Republican Vince Fong is in the runoff to finish McCarthy's term.

Los Angeles— Republican state Legislator Vince Fong advanced to a May election in California to finish Kevin McCarthy's term, which ends in January. Tuesday night, it was unclear who will challenge Fong in the May 21 20th District special election.

The conservative district's candidates included McCarthy staffer Fong and Republican Tulare County Sheriff Mike Boudreaux, who sought to take the speaker's position after his resignation last year.

Former President Donald Trump endorsed California Assembly member Fong. Republicans are anticipated to easily maintain the seat, and Tuesday's election did not threaten their chamber majority.

The most Republican House seat in Democratic California is in the Central Valley farm belt, including Bakersfield and Fresno. Fong, Boudreaux, and Democrat Marisa Wood led early after the polls closed at 8 p.m.

Trump's involvement makes the election a possible proxy vote on his clout as he prepares to face President Joe Biden in November. McCarthy's spectacular fall in the House—he is the first speaker ever to be voted out—left a complicated contest to succeed him that has involved a lawsuit and GOP rivalries.

With McCarthy's seat vacated, Republicans hold 11 of the state's 52 House seats. Because several of the same names were on the March 5 primary ballot for the entire 20th Congressional District term that begins in January, many voters were likely to be confused and turn out low. In that race, Fong and Boudreaux progressed to November.

McCarthy's special election only covers the remainder of his term till early next year. If no candidate receives more than 50% of the vote, the top two finishers will face off on May 21. It seemed doubtful any candidate would win the seat with nine names on the ballot.

Trump backed Fong in February as “a true Republican.” Former Trump acting director of national intelligence Ric Grenell and Bakersfield Republican state Sen. Shannon Grove, Fong's hometown, endorse Boudreaux.

Fong and Boudreaux are Trump-supporting conservatives with similar policies. Fong is McCarthy's pick and a product of his political organization, whereas the sheriff is not.

McCarthy-exiting legislator Fong promises “trusted, tested leadership.” He ruled fundraisers. The son of a detective, Boudreaux touts his decades of law-and-order experience and “the know-how to keep us safe.”

Boudreaux is well-known in Tulare and Kings counties, whereas Fong is in Kern County, the district's most populated. According to incomplete findings, Fresno County, where the two were narrowly separated in the March 5 primary, might decide the race.

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