Fong secures special election win over Boudreaux

Bakersfield Republican Vince Fong heads to Congress for a shortened term after a May 21 special election in California’s 20th Congressional District

Assemblyman Vince Fong, R-Kern County.
Serena Bettis
Published May 22, 2024  • 
2:00 pm

CENTRAL VALLEY – For the first time in nearly six months, the Central Valley has a representative in Congress after Republican Vince Fong won the 20th Congressional District special election to replace former Bakersfield Rep. Kevin McCarthy.

Election results last updated after midnight on May 22 show Fong receiving 60.2% of the vote, beating out fellow Republican and Tulare County Sheriff Mike Boudreaux by more than 10,000 votes in the special election runoff race held on May 21. Fong and Boudreaux advanced to the runoff as the top two of nine candidates hoping to take over from McCarthy after he retired from Congress in December 2022. 

“I am filled with humility and gratitude tonight, as early results show that voters have overwhelmingly selected me to serve as their voice in Washington D.C.,” Fong said in a statement on May 21. “With the campaign over, the real work now begins.”

Fong’s victory in this election has secured him a seat in the House of Representatives through Jan. 3, 2025, the end of McCarthy’s vacated term; however, he may remain in the seat through January 2027 depending on the results of the November election. Neither candidate is finished with the campaign trail, as Boudreaux and Fong both came out on top in the March 5 regular election primary.

In his own statement released on election night, Boudreaux said he had congratulated Fong on his victory and reflected on his campaign so far. Boudreaux launched his bid for Congress after McCarthy’s resignation “because we faced a crisis: the very real potential of losing critical, seasoned representation in Congress at a time when our region and nation’s public safety is threatened,” he said.

“California faces a crime crisis unlike any other in its history,” Boudreaux’s statement said. “That’s why I will be stepping up the fight for a safer Valley and safer California. I look forward to providing updates on this effort in the coming weeks.”

Currently serving in the California State Assembly as a representative for Tulare and Kern counties, Fong will resign from the state legislature to take his seat in Congress. Prior to his tenure in the Assembly, which dates back to 2016, Fong served as a high-ranking member of McCarthy’s staff, a position which helped him secure the support of McCarthy and from former President Donald Trump. 

The 20th Congressional District serves a vast and meandering area of the Central Valley and includes residents in Fresno, Kern, Kings and Tulare counties. According to the California Secretary of State’s office, just over 68,000 votes have been counted so far, which is approximately 15% of all registered voters in the 20th Congressional District. 

Raised in Bakersfield, Fong received strong support from Kern County voters, receiving 73.9% of the vote. Likewise, Boudreaux — who is from Porterville and has served in the Tulare County Sheriff’s Office for 38 years — was the favorite among Tulare County voters, receiving 67.8% of the vote. The vote distribution was more even for Fresno and Kings counties, with Fong receiving 55.6% of the Fresno County vote and 49.9% of the Kings County vote. 

Fong outraises Boudreaux

According to receipts submitted to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) through May 1, the Fong campaign has raised just under $1.48 million and spent just over $1.44 million. Fong raised approximately $1.06 million from individual contributions to his campaign and more than $414,000 from PACs and other non-party committees. 

Contributions to the Fong campaign have come from prominent individuals, including Lynda Resnick and Stewart Resnick, owners of The Wonderful Company, and a variety of corporations through Political Action Committees (PACs), including Koch Industries, California Dairies, Chevron, Comcast and NBC Universal, Union Pacific, Blue Shield of California, American Pistachio Growers and more. 

Fong also received significant indirect support from the Central Valley Values PAC, an independent Super PAC with no direct connection to the Fong campaign. The Central Valley Values PAC, according to FEC filings, spent more than $650,000 in support of Fong and in opposition to Boudreaux and primary candidate Marisa Wood.

Boudreaux’s campaign has raised slightly over $423,000 and spent nearly $370,000. The majority of his campaign contributions came from individuals at just over $414,000 and he received nearly $9,000 from PACs and other non-party committees.

 Boudreaux’s campaign has received contributions from two former candidates in the 20th District Congressional race, Kyle Kirkland and T.J. Esposito, and local committees including the Friends of Larry Micari, the Tulare County Deputy Sheriff’s Benevolent, Ward for District Attorney 2028, the California Citrus Mutual Federal PAC and the PAC of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. 

EDITOR’S NOTE: This story was updated at 9:40 a.m. on May 23 to fix a typo that misspelled Stewart Resnick’s name. 

Serena Bettis
General Assignment Reporter