Kevin McCarthy’s decision to resign at the end of the year has launched a messy succession fight that reflects the Republican fractures that cost him the speakership. | Francis Chung/POLITICO

SACRAMENTO — A Republican running to replace former Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) is threatening lawsuit to block McCarthy’s chosen heir from the ballot, plunging the race for the outgoing congress member’s seat into further uncertainty.

The ultimatum from far-right candidate David Giglio reflects a highly fluid situation in California’s 20th congressional district, where McCarthy’s decision to resign at the end of the year has launched a messy succession fight that reflects the Republican fractures that cost him the speakership.

Assembly member Vince Fong initially said he would not run for McCarthy’s seat and filed for re-election. But after Republican state Sen. Shannon Grove surprised observers by passing on a Congress bid, Fong reversed course and entered the House contest with McCarthy’s blessing.

That has pushed Fong into uncertain legal territory. The California secretary of state’s office said in a statement that “no withdrawal is allowed” and candidates cannot run for two seats at once but subsequently appeared to soften that stance, telling a reporter that the “unusual circumstances” merited closer review.

Giglio similarly contends that Fong is barred from running for Congress and said that, if the secretary of state concludes otherwise and lets Fong remain in the race, his campaign would file an immediate legal challenge.

The candidate slammed McCarthy’s bid to elevate his successor in language that echoed conservative Republicans who pushed him out of the speakership.

Giglio, a Donald Trump-aligned conservative who was already challenging McCarthy from the right before his retirement, framed Fong’s run as an attempt by “McCarthy, spineless RINOs, and special interest groups” to “steal another deep red seat from President Trump and MAGA.”

“Former Speaker McCarthy and Mr. Fong’s misguided actions are yet another example of the corrupt Washington cartel acting outside the boundaries of the law,” Giglio said in a statement.

Representatives for Fong’s campaign and for the secretary of state’s office did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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