Political Notebook

Costa kicks campaign fundraising up a notch

Rep. Jim Costa, D-Fresno
Rep. Jim Costa, D-Fresno THE FRESNO BEE

Fresno Democrat Jim Costa’s fundraising the first three months of the year were weak. The 16th Congressional District incumbent raised $80,000, spent $78,000 — and earned notice from the National Republican Congressional Committee, which called the amount “paltry.”

Costa brushed off the criticism, promised a stronger second quarter and vowed to reach $1 million by the end of the year in preparation for his 2016 run for a seventh term in Congress.

He’s well on his way.

Costa raised almost $194,000 in the second quarter and now has more than $755,000 in his campaign account.

By comparison, here’s how other San Joaquin Valley congressmen in competitive districts stacked up against Costa: 21st District Rep. David Valadao, R-Hanford, raised around $700,000 this year and has $616,000 in his account; 10th District Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Turlock, raised a little more than $700,000 and has $1.7 million cash on hand; 9th District Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Stockton, raised around $270,000 and has $301,000 in his account.

As Costa’s numbers start to add up, his Republican challengers are to date far behind in the fundraising race.

Dairyman Johnny Tacherra, who is mounting his third consecutive Costa challenge, spent two-thirds of what he raised in the second quarter paying off lingering debts for campaign consulting, television ad buys and other expenses from his 2014 race against Costa, and also repaying himself for some of the loans he made to his campaign.

Tacherra almost beat Costa last year, but as of now, he’s far behind in the fundraising race. So far this year, Tacherra has raised $114,000 and has just $28,000 in his campaign account. He also has more than $14,000 in loans to his campaign that are still outstanding.

The other Republican hopeful is Madera County Supervisor David Rogers, who raised less than Tacherra, but has more cash on hand.

Rogers got a late start, but in the past three months he raised around $60,000 and has almost all of it -- $57,851 -- still in his account.

Under the state’s primary election rules, all candidates, regardless of political party, will compete in the June primary election. The top two finishers will move on to the November general election. At this point, the odds are Tacherra or Rogers will finish third and not move on, which means they’ll likely have to spend money to compete in the primary election.

And speaking of Valadao, his Democrat opponent, Fowler Mayor Pro-Tem Daniel Parra turned in a weak fundraising report. He raised less than $25,000 and has only $8,600 cash on hand. He also has $4,000 in debt.

The campaign finance numbers cover Jan. 1 through June 30.