Republican challenger Elizabeth Heng surprised many in June by coming within six points of Rep. Jim Costa, D-Fresno, in the primary election, but the longtime incumbent maintains a considerable financial lead over the first-time challenger heading into the final stretch.
Heng received 47 percent of the vote in the primary, but her fundraising has yet to catch up to such a seemingly winnable margin.
She enjoyed a good bump during primary season, raising about $150,000 from May 17 to June 30. Prior to that, she had raised about $158,000 total, including $39,400 from April 1 to May 16.
For the quarter, Heng raised nearly $190,000. She ended June with $115,000 on hand.
Costa, however, raised just over $256,000 in the quarter, and he has $1 million more cash on hand than Heng.
Most of Heng’s donations have come from individual donations, including bumps from big-time local Republican donors Richard Spencer, John Harris and others.
Costa has received more than $700,000 from PACs. Some came from large corporations, such as Chevron, Google, Comcast, McDonald’s and Wal-Mart, but most came from various agriculture or labor-related groups.
But fundraising has not been as large a determinant factor in District 16, which stretches from Fresno up to northern Merced County and is among the poorest districts in the country.
In 2014, Republican Johnny Tacherra raised about $350,000 to Costa’s $1.5 million. And yet Tacherra finished just 1,300 votes – less than 2 percentage points – behind Costa in the general election.