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Tulare County Sheriff Mike Boudreaux advances to May runoff against Vince Fong

March 22, 2024

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — Mike Boudreaux will be moving on to the special election run-off in May.

He’ll be up against fellow Republican and Assemblyman Vince Fong, who he’ll also be running against in November’s general election, all for the 20th Congressional District seat.

Eyewitness News sat down with Boudreaux once again, and spoke with a political science professor to learn more about how these races just might shape up.

“Anything can happen if you run an effective campaign," said Nathan Monroe, a political science professor at UC Merced, as well as director of the Center for Analytic Political Engagement.

“I'm very curious to see how the campaigns look come middle of summer, when things really start to ramp up and to see if Boudreaux has a tact that will put him in contention," said Monroe.

Friday, the Associated Press called the race, with Boudreaux advancing to the runoff election, with only a 3% lead over Democrat Marisa Wood.

Monroe said with the two top candidates both being republicans, votes could shift at any point between May and November.

“The outcome and split that happens in May, may or may not be very indicative of what we should expect in November election where we've got a general presidential election race, a whole bunch of up ticket races that will be sort of interesting, ballot propositions, and so the configuration of the voters and the turnout is going to change pretty dramatically," said Monroe.

Friday, Boudreaux told Eyewitness News that said he’s feeling confident.

“We're very confident going into May 21st, as well as into November," said Boudreaux.

“I can come in as the law enforcement candidate, the law and order candidate, holding people accountable with real life experiences that I can take to D.C. to make meaningful impact to the people who really live here.”

Although Boudreaux takes pride in Kern County, his ties are strong in Tulare County, while Fong is known for his Kern County connection.

Fong also has endorsements from former President Donald Trump and former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, while Boudreaux has endorsements from multiple law enforcement agencies, as well as fellow candidate Kyle Kirkland.

With Wood taking a decent chunk of votes, Monroe said where those democratic votes go next is the real question.

“Boudreaux, at least early [on], was kind of pitching himself off as a kind of Trump Republican," he said. “Then of course, Trump endorsed Fong and so you get this sort of curiosity. Well, is Boudreaux gonna sort of move and hop to the middle? Certainly, that's Boudreaux's best play," Monroe said,

It seems like Boudreaux is already on that track.

"I have a long track record of serving people, not just serving a party and I think that's the greatest influence that I would have as the sheriff coming into this race.”

Still Monroe said with Fong’s lead, Boudreax could still fall short, even if he collects all the other votes.

“We're not really seeing the makings of a race where Boudreaux naturally is going to overtake Fong. I'm not saying it can't happen, but I'm saying I think that it's still Fong’s seat to lose," he said.

That run off election date is set for May 21st to fill the remainder of McCarthy’s term through January. After that, the election on November 5th will determine who will officially hold that 20th district seat starting next year.

by Celine Stevens, Eyewitness News