Sheriff suspends bid for US House seat once held by ex-Speaker McCarthy

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A county sheriff suspended his campaign Monday for a California U.S. House seat once held by former Speaker Kevin McCarthy and endorsed a fellow Republican, Rep. Vince Fong, who captured a May special election to fill out the remainder of McCarthy’s term.

The move by Tulare County Sheriff Mike Boudreaux all but assures Fong will claim the full term for the 20th Congressional District in November.

Fong, a former state legislator who was backed by McCarthy and former President Donald Trump, defeated Boudreaux in the special election, and the two were set to face off again in November. With Fong installed as the incumbent, Boudreaux faced long odds of reversing the outcome in the fall.

“It's time to bring our region together,” Boudreaux said in an online video.

“I’ve known Congressman Fong and worked closely with him and his team for more than a decade. While we were on opposite sides of this campaign, at the end of the day we’re Republicans, we’re family men, and fighters who are committed to protecting individual liberty, reducing the cost of living and maintaining safe communities,” Boudreaux said.

Republicans occupy 12 of the state’s 52 U.S. House seats in heavily Democratic California.

The two conservative Republicans and Trump supporters occupy much of the same policy terrain. In the campaign, Boudreaux spotlighted his decades of law-and-order experience and promised to harden the nation’s porous border. Fong also promised to “end the chaos” at the border with Mexico while prioritizing water and energy needs in the farm belt.

McCarthy’s dramatic fall in the House — as the only speaker in history to be voted out of the job — left behind a messy race to succeed him that exposed rivalries within his own party. He worked behind the scenes to promote Fong’s candidacy; a political action committee linked to McCarthy steered over $700,000 into the 20th District contest to boost Fong’s campaign.

McCarthy resigned from the House last year after being ousted as speaker.