What’s Next After McCarthy’s Upcoming Departure From Congress

What’s Next After McCarthy’s Upcoming Departure From Congress
Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) speaks during a press briefing in the Rayburn Room of the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Oct. 9, 2023. (Madalina Vasiliu/The Epoch Times)
Savannah Hulsey Pointer

Following the Dec. 6 announcement by former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) that he'll leave Congress early at the end of the year, questions have arisen about what’s next for the lawmaker and his vacated seat.

Mr. McCarthy made his announcement in an essay published in The Wall Street Journal, where he said, “No matter the odds, or personal cost, we did the right thing. It is in this spirit that I have decided to depart the House at the end of this year to serve America in new ways.”

The California lawmaker had been expected to make an announcement soon about his political future as the filing deadline for the next election is fast approaching. However, the decision by Mr. McCarthy was especially weighty, given the already extremely thin Republican majority in the House.

Mr. McCarthy, 58, has represented California’s 20th Congressional District since January 2007, following his departure from the California Assembly, where he served as minority leader. More than a decade and a half later, he was elected as speaker of the House in January.

Mr. McCarthy’s district isn’t likely to turn Democrat, as it has been solidly Republican for some time. However, California Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, is now required to call a special election within two weeks of the McCarthy seat becoming vacant.

State law requires that the special election take place 126 to 140 days after the seat becomes vacant, although it may be able to coincide with California’s congressional primaries, which will take place on March 5, given that the state has slightly more leeway with timing in order to combine the election with an already scheduled election taking place for the same voters.

As for who will fill the position, there’s speculation that one of a few prominent local Republicans could take Mr. McCarthy’s place. The Los Angeles Times reported that former California Rep. Devin Nunes, who’s currently serving as the CEO of former President Donald Trump’s namesake media and technology group, could have the support to secure the position.

In addition to some solid name recognition, Mr. Nunes still reportedly has $11 million in his congressional campaign account, per the latest filing from the Federal Election Commission. Mr. Nunes represented California’s 22nd Congressional District from 2013 to 2022.

The publication also reported that former California state Legislature minority leader, state Sen. Shannon Grove, could take the position. An army veteran, Ms. Grove was a six-year member of the State Assembly before taking the state Senate post in 2018 and is also a supporter of President Trump. The state lawmaker has also been a champion of the California oil industry and has opposed mandatory vaccinations for schoolchildren.

Mr. McCarthy’s is the most recent in a string of House retirement announcements causing turmoil in recent months. The party also recently experienced the rare expulsion of indicted Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.).

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul announced that the state will hold a special election on Feb. 13, 2024, to fill Mr. Santos’s seat.

The California Republican Party responded to The Epoch Times’s request for comment on the future of the congressional seat with a statement from California Republican Party Chairwoman Jessica Millan Patterson.

“Our nation, our state, and California’s 20th Congressional District are better off today because of Speaker Emeritus Kevin McCarthy’s years of service,” she said.

“As Speaker of the House, he envisioned and implemented a commonsense, conservative agenda to move our nation forward. From recruitment to fundraising, no one has done more to help Republicans get elected across this country, and his ceaseless efforts enabled us to pick up two separate GOP House majorities, including five-seat pickups here in California.

“I am so proud to call him a friend and mentor and am in awe of all that he has accomplished for our state and nation. I wish him all the best as he enters this next chapter.”