By Cindy Von Quednow, CNN
(CNN) — A special election to replace former Rep. Kevin McCarthy following the speaker’s resignation last month will be held on May 21, California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Monday.
The primary for the special election is set for March 19, the governor said.
McCarthy, who represented California’s 20th Congressional District, announced he was stepping down in a Wall Street Journal op-ed on December 6 and formally stepped down on December 31, CNN previously reported.
The race in McCarthy’s old district, which the former speaker won handily in 2022, could prove vital to House Republicans’ legislative agenda as they battle an increasingly razor-thin majority.
With McCarthy’s resignation and the expulsion of ex-Rep. George Santos last year, Republicans entered the new year with a narrow majority of just 220 seats over Democrats’ 213, a margin that means the House GOP can afford only a few defections on party-line priorities. Adding to the thinning majority is Ohio GOP Rep. Bill Johnson, who is set to resign on January 21 to serve as president of Youngstown State University, and, temporarily, House Majority Leader Steve Scalise, who will be out of Washington and working remotely until February while he undergoes a stem cell transplant to treat the rare form of blood cancer he was diagnosed with in August 2023.
McCarthy spent much of his 17 years in the House serving in leadership and became House speaker last year after a historic 15 rounds of voting. But his hold on the gavel lasted just nine months until the right flank of his party, upset with the then-speaker for putting a stopgap spending bill on the floor with the support of Democrats, launched a successful bid to vacate him from his leadership role. He made history as the first House speaker to be ousted from the position.
“I never could have imagined the journey when I first threw my hat into the ring,” McCarthy said in his WSJ op-ed. “I go knowing I left it all on the field—as always, with a smile on my face. And looking back, I wouldn’t have had it any other way.”
McCarthy last month wouldn’t rule out taking a position in a potential Trump administration, telling Fox News, “I will help whether I’m in it or whether I’m out. I want the country to be successful.”
CNN’s Jack Forrest, Melanie Zanona and Haley Talbot contributed to this report.
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