Johnny Tacherra advanced to a third try at Congress, highlighting the central San Joaquin Valley’s November congressional races that took shape Tuesday.
All five of the region’s incumbents had an easy time in the primary, which winnows the field to two regardless of party for the November general election.
Jim Costa, the Democrat from Fresno, and Republicans David Valadao of Hanford, Devin Nunes of Tulare, Tom McClintock of Elk Grove and Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield advanced to face a challenger from the opposite party.
Daniel Parra and Emilio Huerta were locked in a tight race to see who will oppose Valadao.
With all precincts reporting by midmorning Wednesday, Tacherra had emerged with 33.8 percent of the vote to outdistance his Republican rival Dave Rogers of Chowchilla, who had 12.1 percent. Costa had 54.1 percent of the vote as he aims for a seventh two-year term in Congress.
The 16th encompasses portions of Fresno and Madera counties and all of Merced County.
Tacherra is a farmer from Burrel (southwest of Caruthers) whose first congressional effort in 2012 fell short in the June primary. But two years ago, he outperformed a better-funded Republican in the primary and actually led Costa in the November general election until the last of the absentee and provisional ballots were tallied a week later.
This time around, Tacherra raised more money for the primary campaign than Rogers, a Madera County supervisor, racking up almost $333,000 as of Monday compared to Rogers’ $236,000. But Tacherra had spent all but $21,631 left in his account. Costa, by contrast, has more than $1.2 million for the general election campaign.
Costa said he’s looking forward to a rematch with Tacherra and expressed confidence that November would not be as much of a nail-biter as two years ago. “We did not anticipate such a low turnout in Merced and Fresno counties” in 2014, Costa said. “The turnout will be far better this November in a presidential election year.”
“Financially, we’re in a position of great strength heading into the general election,” Costa added. “We feel very good. These numbers reflect what our polling indicated three weeks ago.”
Tacherra’s campaign consultant, Carl Fogliani, said his candidate was also pleased with the results: “He’s performing extremely well in a lot of areas, particularly Merced and Madera counties, where his opponent (Rogers) is a sitting supervisor.”
Fogliani added that as competitive as Tacherra was against Costa in 2014, he expects the general election race to attract attention – and financial support – from the national Republican party.
Democrats Parra, a Fowler City Council member, and Huerta, a Bakersfield attorney and son of United Farm Workers co-founder Dolores Huerta, were separated by just 1 percentage point.
Parra was at 21.4 percent, Huerta at 20.4 percent. Huerta dominated in Kern County, and Parra was doing better in Fresno and Kings counties. The district also takes a slice of Tulare County.
Valadao, running for his third two-year term, polled 58.2 percent.
Through Monday, Huerta held a sizable fundraising advantage, rounding up almost $190,000 in contributions compared to just over $68,000 for Parra. But the spending trend did not seem to dictate the voting trends. “I owe that to my volunteers,” Parra said. “Nobody got paid, and they were out there in this hot weather, passing out literature, knocking on doors, talking to people.”
Nunes, running for his eighth term in Congress, rolled up 64.9 percent of the vote in a district that covers most of Tulare County and part of Fresno County. His opponent will be Democrat Louie Campos, a tutor from Dinuba who garnered 28.7 percent. Another Republican, Teresita “Tess” Andres of Visalia, trailed with 6.3 percent.
McCarthy polled 56.5 percent – a total likely eaten into by two Republican challengers, Ken Mettler (12.7 percent) and Gerald Morris (4.2 percent).
Democrat Wendy Reed, an administrator of the Antelope Valley Conservancy, advanced to November with 26.6 percent. She did slightly better in the Tulare County portion of the district, which takes in the east side of the county including Porterville.
The district that stretches from Nevada County down the Sierra to eastern Fresno County chose Democrat Bob Derlet to oppose McClintock.
Derlet had 28.1 percent of the vote to 10.8 percent for Democrat Sean White. McClintock was at 61.2 percent.
Derlet, 66, is new to politics. He worked as a primary care doctor at Me-Wuk Indian Health Center in Tuolumne City after spending nearly two decades as director of the emergency room at UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento.