Fong, Boudreaux likely advance to May runoff for House seat

Initial results from the Congressional District 20 special election show Vince Fong heading to a runoff in May with Mike Boudreaux as his likely opponent

Line of voting privacy booths at an empty polling station, USA Election Day, copyspace
Line of voting privacy booths at an empty polling station, USA Election Day, copyspace
Serena Bettis
Published March 21, 2024  • 
10:00 am

CENTRAL VALLEY – Voters in California’s 20th Congressional District will head to the polls yet again this May, this time to choose between two Republican candidates looking to serve out the remainder of former Bakersfield Rep. Kevin McCarthy’s term.

Based on preliminary results from the March 19 special election, Vince Fong and Mike Boudreaux are on track to advancing to a runoff election scheduled for May 21. The candidate who secures a victory in May will then represent the Central Valley in Washington, D.C. for just six months until the new Congress is sworn in on Jan. 3, 2025.

Initial ballot returns reported by the California Secretary of State’s office, updated just after midnight on March 20, show Fong with a strong lead of 40.8% — enough to secure him a position in the runoff race but still far from a majority share of the vote that would have landed him directly in Congress.

Boudreaux sits in second place with 26.2% of the vote, and Bakersfield Democrat Marisa Wood came in close behind him with 23.1%. The remaining six candidates on the ballot brought in a combined 9.8% of the vote. 

Both Fong and Boudreaux currently hold elected office, with Fong representing State Assembly District 32 in Sacramento and Boudreaux serving as the Tulare County Sheriff. They share similar policy views and are both ardent supporters of former President Donald Trump, though it was Fong who secured Trump’s endorsement last month.

The candidate’s home counties are well-represented in the election results: Boudreaux received 52.1% of the vote within Tulare County and Fong received 54.5% of the vote within Kern County. Wood came out ahead of Fong in Tulare County and Boudreaux in Kern County. 

These results closely mirror those of the March 5 regular primary election, in which Fong and Boudreaux will face off for the same seat in November. Results for that election — which featured 11 candidates and one certified write-in candidate — give Fong and Boudreaux 42.1% and 24% of the vote, respectively, and Wood 21.3%. 

Wood has previously run in the district against McCarthy and successfully reached the general election, but a campaign field left open to Republicans in a Republican-heavy district pushed her out of the top-two.

According to the Feb. 20 report of voter registration from the Secretary of State, 46.7% of Congressional District 20 voters are registered Republicans; 26.8% are registered Democrats and 17.8% are registered with no party preference. 

The 20th Congressional District is vast and meandering, covering portions of Fresno, Kern, Kings and Tulare counties. County elections offices have until March 28 to process remaining ballots before the Secretary of State certifies the election results. 

Vote-by-mail ballots for the special general election will be sent out to voters beginning no later than April 22. Results from the May 21 election will be certified by the Secretary of State by June 28.

Serena Bettis
General Assignment Reporter