Ahead of CD-20 special election, Republican candidate Vince Fong makes final pitch to voters

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BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — On May 21, voters in California’s 20th Congressional District, formerly represented by Kevin McCarthy, can participate in a special election.

This special election is to fill the remainder of McCarthy’s term, which he left early.

The election is a runoff. Back in March, we had the primary special election with nine candidates, but because no one got 50% or more of the votes, we’re moving onto this runoff with the top two vote getters Republicans Mike Boudreaux and Vince Fong.

“[Voters are looking for] someone who can hit the ground running and who can be their voice to elevate the concerns and the challenges of the Central Valley and make them national issues,” said Republican candidate Vince Fong, a current state assemblymember.

CD-20 special election: Where and how to vote

“Our community wants a strong, effective voice advocating for them in Washington D.C.”

Fong is up against fellow Republican Tulare County Sheriff Mike Boudreaux.

An incumbent of nearly a decade, Fong said he is the candidate that can succeed local leaders like his longtime mentor and first endorsement, Kevin McCarthy.

“I would put my supporters up against anybody’s,” Fong said of his political endorsements. “Because we have support from the grassroots level to the local level all the way to the President of the United States when it comes to President Trump … We have the support of President Trump all the way through November.”

The 20th Congressional District includes parts of Kern, Kings, Fresno and Tulare.

Fong won Fresno and Kern in both the presidential and special election primaries. Mike Boudreaux won Kings and Tulare.

A Kern native, Fong dominates his home base, which makes up more than half the district. And familiarity means votes.

At the Vince Fong for Congress campaign headquarters on Truxtun Avenue, where 17 News conducted a one-on-one interview with the candidate, we also spoke to Fong’s supporters and volunteers.

One of them, Alexander Knaak, said the big factor in choosing Fong was “familiarity.”

Knaak said he has known Fong for a while and that he feels comfortable with the candidate.

Volunteers like Knaak also noted voters care most about issues like the border, the economy, the cost of living and inflation.

CD-20 special election: Republican candidate Mike Boudreaux makes final pitch to voters

They also said many voters weren’t aware of the runoff special election in the first place. Thus, for the Fong team, it’s been a full-fledged effort to get out the vote.

“It’s been a hectic time, full sprint to May 21,” Fong said of his campaigning efforts. “Travelling up and down the 5 and 99, meeting constituents and voters in every single community.”

He added: “We understand the geographical distances between each city and each community, and so we take nothing for granted. We are literally talking to every single voter that we can talk to.”

Fong said from television and radio ads to sending text messages and making front porch appearances, he has been doing it all.

“I think we’re averaging about 2,000 to 6,000 calls a day,” Fong said. “We’ve campaigned in every single county. So, we’re taking nothing for granted.”

In name ID and fundraising, Fong dominates. Federal Election Commission filings showed, Fong has raised nearly $1.5 million as of early May. Boudreaux has raised about $423,000.

On ads ranging from TV and radio to text messages, Fong has spent at least $241,000 ahead of the special. Boudreaux has spent at least $105,000.

And Fong recently won a months-long lawsuit with California’s Secretary of State over his eligibility to run for Congress.

Prior to entering the congressional race, Fong had already declared reelection to the state Assembly, meaning his name would be on the ballot twice, for two offices.

The legal battle concerned whether that two-time appearance was legal.

Another volunteer 17 News spoke with was Matthew Martin, who’s made a name for himself politically too. Martin is vice chair of Kern County Young Republicans, chief of staff to District 3 Supervisor Jeff Flores and vice president of Western Pacific Research.

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“[Fong] has a long history of protecting and defending Kern County’s values and the values that we share in the Central Valley,” Martin said.

Since McCarthy’s resignation from Congress last December, some community members have expressed disappointment. That disappointment, in turn, has meant not voting for Fong — McCarthy’s protégé.

“I don’t get that at all,” Martin said. “Congressman McCarthy served our community incredibly well for so many years … I don’t see it that way. We’re thrilled and we’re excited about Vince [Fong for Congress].”

“We were the top vote getter on March 5, we were the top vote getter on March 19, we expect to be overwhelmingly the top vote getter of May 21, and we expect to be successful in November,” Fong said.

For more on Fong’s opponent, Mike Boudreaux, click here.

Polls open at 7 a.m. May 21.

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