Can Democrats win back a majority in the House in 2018?
Challengers in two central San Joaquin Valley congressional races ramped up their fundraising efforts in a final push to knock off incumbents Jim Costa and David Valadao in the Nov. 6 election.
Fresno Democrat TJ Cox, challenging Hanford Republican Valadao, raised about $932,000 between July 1 and Sept. 30. Valadao pulled in about $631,000.
Most of Cox’s fundraising came through individual donations ($704,000), but he also pulled in about $98,000 from political action committees and nearly $127,000 as his cut from big-name fundraising events featuring former president Barack Obama, former vice president Joe Biden and others. The national Democrats also poured about $30,000 into the Cox campaign.
Valadao received about $303,000 from individual donations and around $250,000 in PAC money, including $77,000 from Republican leadership group House Majority PAC.
Valadao spent about $606,000 to Cox’s $1.34 million. However, the incumbent has a lot more cash left for the final month of campaigning – $1.65 million to Cox’s $505,000.
Cox has raised about $2.26 million this cycle, while Valadao has pulled in nearly $3 million. Both have received considerable party support in what has been a mutually agreed-upon battleground district – an area in which Democrats outnumber Republicans by double digits.
Costa vs. Heng
It’s a similar financial story for Fresno Democrat Jim Costa and his challenger, Republican first-timer Elizabeth Heng.
Like Cox, Heng outraised the incumbent by more than $250,000 – $687,000 to Costa’s $412,000 – from July 1 to Sept. 30. But Costa nearly doubled Heng’s spending, $848,000 to $496,000, as the two traded TV ads attacking one another or defending from previous attacks.
Nearly all of Heng’s fundraising came from individuals ($610,000), though she received $6,400 from her party and $62,000 from PACs. Costa received $171,000 from individual donations and $234,000 from PACs.
Overall, Costa has raised $1.57 million and has spent nearly every penny of it. Heng has pulled in just under $1 million and spent $693,000.
Heng has $306,000 remaining in her treasury to Costa’s $716,000.
The upswing for challengers mirrors – though does not match the scale – of fundraising in the neighboring 22nd District, where Fresno Democrat Andrew Janz outraised incumbent Devin Nunes for the quarter ($4.3 million to $3.15 million) but is still well behind him in total cash.
In 2016, all three incumbents walked a relatively easy path to re-election. Valadao challenger Emilio Huerta put up the best fight, with $774,000 raised. Valadao beat Huerta by 13 points.