WASHINGTON (Reuters) -California will hold the special primary election for former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s recently vacated congressional seat on March 19, according to the secretary of state website.
Unlike in most states, where primaries are divided by political party, all of the declared candidates in a California jurisdiction are put against each other in the primary.
If a candidate receives more than 50% of the vote, no special general election will be held, according to a calendar released by the state’s secretary of state.
If there is a special general election, it will take place on May 21, according to a proclamation signed by Governor Gavin Newsom on Monday.
The special election will determine who will hold the seat until November, eventually likely giving Republicans a critical vote in an extremely tight House of Representatives ahead of the Nov. 5 general election that will determine control of the entire chamber.
But until then, the seat will be empty for up to five months, depriving House Republicans of a key vote until then.
McCarthy was ousted by a gang of eight Republican rebels, who bucked the party and banded together with House Democrats to boot the speaker in an unprecedented vote.
McCarthy’s departure triggered three weeks of uncertainty, with House Republicans struggling to select a replacement for McCarthy. Mike Johnson, a Louisiana conservative, ultimately claimed the mantle.
McCarthy announced his resignation effective at the end of 2023, further narrowing House Republicans’ thin majority.
The Republicans currently have a 220-213 House majority.
McCarthy’s seat is considered safe for Republicans.
(Reporting by Shakil Ismail and Makini Brice; writing by Paul Grant; Editing by Caitlin Webber and Sandra Maler)