Political Notebook

June 6, 2014

16th Congressional District once again looks to be Costa's to lose

Political Notebook

Breaking news, insight on the Valley's political movers and shakers

Fresno Democrat Jim Costa isn’t on any professional political prognosticator’s list of endangered congressional representatives — and its unlikely he’ll be any time soon.

Even with depressed Democratic Party turnout in Tuesday’s primary election, Costa still pulled in almost 44% of the vote in the 16th Congressional District, far outdistancing second-place finisher, Burrel Republican Johnny Tacherra, who has 22% of the vote.

Some Republicans are pointing out that Costa was held to less than 50% of the vote. But he had a similar finish in the 2012 primary, winning 42.7% of the vote. He went on to win 57.4% in the general election.

Given that Democrats traditionally do a better job of voting in general elections, most experts expect Costa’s vote percentage to rise significantly.

It all adds up to a major challenge for Tacherra.

He beat four others — three Republicans and a Democrat — to finish second on Tuesday. One of those Republicans was Steve Crass, who raised more than $100,000 and made “On the Radar” status in the National Republican Congressional Committee’s Young Guns program.

Tacherra — who also ran against Costa in 2012, but didn’t make the top two runoff — put together more of a grassroots campaign that focused on the GOP’s conservative core, including Tea Party activists.

But with Costa’s campaign war chest, the power of incumbency, and a significant Democratic Party voter-registration advantage in the district, which covers all of Merced and parts of Madera and Fresno counties, Tacherra will have to raise significantly more more cash and broaden his voting base if he hopes to even make Costa break a sweat in the fall.

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Breaking news and insight from Bee reporters on the central San Joaquin Valley's lawmakers, movers and shakers. 'Round election time, this place really heats up.

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