Updated 6:30 p.m. | In the immediate aftermath of Rep. Kevin McCarthy's sudden and shocking decision to bow out of the race for House speaker, the California Republican said he intends to stay in Congress and keep his current job as majority leader .
But that hasn't stopped speculation that McCarthy could look to leave his Central Valley-based 23rd District — either by resigning or retiring.
Senior GOP aides have denied McCarthy is going anywhere. But if he did call it quits, Republicans would be nearly assured to keep this Bakersfield-based seat. GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney won here in 2012 with 62 percent of the vote.
California Republican strategists added that while no one expects McCarthy to leave, there are a handful of Republicans who would likely look at his seat if an opening presented itself:
State Senate Minority Leader Jean Fuller: Fuller won the Assembly seat McCarthy vacated when he was elected to his first term in Congress in 2006. She ascended to the state Senate in 2010, and was elected GOP leader in August.
State Sen. Andy Vidak: Vidak won a special election to his seat in 2013, succeeding a Democrat who resigned to take a job at Chevron. Vidak has run for Congress before. In 2010, he unsuccessfully took on Democratic Rep. Jim Costa, losing by about 3,000 votes.
State Assemblywoman Shannon Grove: Grove made news back home in June, when it was reported that she tied California's historic drought to the state's abortion laws. She said after Texas Gov. Rick Perry signed a bill banning late term abortions, it rained in the Lone Star State. “Now God has His hold on California," she said , according the the Bakersfield Californian. Grove, who calls herself staunchly anti-abortion and conservative, subsequently denied she said that.
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