WASHINGTON (NEWSnet/AP) — The first step toward filling the seat vacated by former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy begins Tuesday with a special primary in California’s 20th Congressional District.

McCarthy, whose brief tenure as speaker was marked by infighting and gridlock, announced his resignation in December,  two months after members of his conference successfully engineered his ouster.

He had represented the Central Valley-based seat since 2007.

Nine candidates are on the ballot. All candidates run on the same ballot, regardless of party. If the top candidate gets more than 50% of the vote, that candidate wins the seat through the end of the year. If no one tops 50%, the top two candidates advance to a runoff May 21.

There are four Republican candidates running, including front-runners Vince Fong, a state assemblyman, and Mike Boudreaux, Tulare County sheriff.

Democrats have aligned behind Marisa Wood, who advanced to the general election against McCarthy in 2022, but finished third in the March 5 election.

Regardless of what happens in the special election, the district is guaranteed to be represented by a Republican in the next Congress, with Fong and Boudreaux advancing to the general election for a full term.

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