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Vince Fong wraps up his first week in Congress. Here are his first tasks in the new office.

Vince Fong.
California State Assembly
Vince Fong.

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BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — Republican Assemblyman Vince Fong is now Congressman Vince Fong.

The Bakersfield native was officially sworn into Congress on Monday after his triumph over Tulare County Sheriff Mike Boudreaux in May’s special election to fill the House District 20 seat. The district covers portions of Kern, Tulare, Kings and Fresno counties

It’s an office once held by Fong’s former mentor – Kevin McCarthy – who resigned from the seat last year after his own party joined Democrats to oust him from the House Speaker position. It was a first in American politics.

Fong shared his vision for the 20th District with KVPR as his first week in Washington, D.C., came to an end.

“I’m just honored to have a desk, a phone and a computer,” Fong said as he settled into his new office on Capitol Hill.

Fong is stepping into a deeply divided Congress, where Republicans are clinging to the slimmest of majorities. McCarthy’s departure deepened divisions within the House GOP.

But Fong said for now he’s keeping an eye on issues back home.

“We have leaders on both sides of the aisle in the Central Valley dealing with keeping our hospitals open, investing in our military installations … and universities,” he said.

Current House Speaker Mike Johnson assigned Fong to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee. He was keen to discuss the former.

“As I’ve traveled up and down [Highway] 99 and [Interstate] 5, there’s certainly highway needs and rural road needs that need to be addressed and dealt with,” he said. “Transportation is No. 1 when it comes to our quality of life in the Central Valley.”

Fong will serve the remainder of McCarthy’s term through January 2025. One more election in November – that’s four this year, if you weren’t counting – will determine who will take the seat in the next congressional term.

It’s a rematch against Boudreaux, who faces an uphill battle after a projected 20-point loss in the special election. An endorsement from former President Donald Trump and lots of cash from McCarthy-aligned political action committees also boosted Fong’s campaign.

Meanwhile, Fong’s now-vacant assembly seat is up for grabs. Fong has endorsed Bakersfield Councilman Ken Weir for the job. But a courtroom victory over the California Secretary of State means Fong could win both seats – in the state assembly and in congress – in November.

That would likely result in yet another round of special elections for voters in California’s 32nd Assembly District in 2026.

Joshua Yeager is a Report For America corps reporter covering Kern County for KVPR.