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Former speaker of the house Kevin McCarthy declines to run for re-election

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(The Center Square) – Former Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy, R–Bakersfield, announced he would not be running for re-election and would be stepping down at the end of the year. With his pending resignation past the candidate filing deadline, California governor Gavin Newsom can either opt to call for a special election or allow the seat to remain vacant, potentially cutting into Republicans’ narrow eight-seat majority in the House of Representatives.

California’s deep-red 23rd congressional district, which voted for former president Donald Trump and recalling Newsom by wide margins, is rated as having a 12 point advantage for Republicans and is thus nearly certain to elect another Republican.

In his Wall Street Journal op-ed announcing his resignation, McCarthy claimed he’s “leaving the House but not the fight,” celebrating his record and hinting at the next steps of his political career.

“We reduced the deficit by more than $2 trillion, revamped work requirements for adults on the sidelines, cut red tape for critical domestic energy projects, and protected the full faith and credit of the U.S. We kept our government operating and our troops paid while wars broke out around the world,” McCarthy wrote. “I will continue to recruit our country’s best and brightest to run for elected office. The Republican Party is expanding every day, and I am committed to lending my experience to support the next generation of leaders.”

State Sen. Shannon Grove, R–Bakersfield, whom some see as a potential successor to McCarthy and represents a district with significant overlap, offered words of gratitude and support to the California Republican.

“While Congress will miss his experience and talent, I am excited that he will continue to fight for not just Republicans, but for the Central Valley as well,” said Grove in a public statement. “I am thankful for Kevin’s service to the country and look forward to continue working side-by-side with him in the future.”

Another potential contender for McCarthy’s seat is former congressman Devin Nunes, who resigned from congress to serve as chief executive officer of Trump Media & Technology Group, which operates Trump’s Truth Social social media platform.

In a radio interview hours before McCarthy announced his resignation, Nunes shared his support for McCarthy’s re-election and spoke little of a run of his own. However, some speculate this may change in the aftermath of McCarthy’s announcement.

“I’m just assuming that he’s running – that he’s going to run again. And I’m not going to do or say anything that would prohibit that,” Nunes said. “I’d be glad to support him if he wants to continue to run, and we’ll leave it at that.”

While Newsom has 14 days from the start of McCarthy’s coming vacancy at the end of the year to decide to hold a special election to fill the remainder of McCarthy’s term, a spokesperson for the governor avoided answering whether or not he would do so.

“We will have more to share once we have specifics from McCarthy about his planned departure,” said spokesperson Erin Mellon to CalMatters.

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