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Kevin McCarthy announces departure from the House of Representantives: Who will replace him in Congress?

Former Speaker of the House, Kevin McCarthy has announced he will depart Congress by the end of the year... who will take over his California congressional seat?

FILE PHOTO: Former Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy, Republican of California, leaves the House of Representatives on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S. November 1, 2023. REUTERS/Julia Nikhinson/File Photo

A little over a month after being ousted from his position as Speaker of the House, California Congressman Kevin McCarthy announced that he would vacate his seat by the end of the year. The congressman released a video across his social media accounts announcing his retirement.

The congressman made a veiled comment about his next steps but did not provide a clear answer to what he would be doing and why he had decided to leave in the middle of his term. His predecessors, Paul Ryan and John Boehner, took different paths after departing Congress. Ryan joined the board of directors of the Fox Corporation, while Boehner took a leadership position at the National Cannabis Council to lobby Congress.

What happens to McCarthy’s seat?

When a Congressional seat becomes vacant, a special election must be held to fill it as mandated by the US Constitution. However, when a Senate seat becomes vacant, the governor appoints an interim representative. The GOP’s majority has been shrinking, and with the departure of McCarthy, it will be further limited. Although the Republicans began the 118th Congress with a four-seat majority, it has dwindled over the last month, beginning with the expulsion of New York Congressman George Santos, who is facing a federal indictment after being exposed as a serial liar.

Governor Gavin Newsom could call a special election to fill the vacant seat, but if past events are any indication, he may allow the seat to remain open since it is an election year. In January 2020, when a Southern California seat was left vacant after Duncan Hunter was convicted in a federal corruption case, the governor did not call for a special election. If Governor Newsom takes a similar approach, the state’s primary, already scheduled for March 5, 2024, will serve as the primary for McCarthy’s district. Then, in November, the constituents will elect their new representative.