Five-Term California Democrat Congressman Faces Five Challengers

Five-Term California Democrat Congressman Faces Five Challengers

Jim Costa is running for his sixth term as a U.S. Congressman representing parts of California’s Central Valley. This year, four Republicans and one Democrat have stepped forward to challenge him.

Costa currently represents California’s 16th district, which includes the cities of Fresno and Merced. He has five challengers, in part, because he supported the passage of the Affordable Care Act. Costa is one of several Democrats whose vote was given in exchange for a special deal. In Costa’s case, it was funding for the construction of a medical school in the Central Valley. The Fresno Bee reports Costa is not running away from his Obamacare vote, but his opponents are clearly hoping it will be an issue this year.

Steve Crass is vying for Costa’s seat. Born in Merced, he grew up to serve six years as an officer in the Navy. After leaving the service, he became a deputy district attorney in Merced County, then an assistant U.S. attorney in Fresno. From there, he went into private practice. The Fresno Bee reports Crass is about to be named “On the Radar” by the NRCC. That could eventually lead to money for his campaign.

Johnny Tacherra is a third generation dairy farmer. Tacherra lost in the 2012 primary against Costa, but he thinks the name recognition he gained will help him this time around.

Mel Levey of Merced also has a military background. He graduated from West Point and served three tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. His mother Barbara will also be on the ballot this June. She is Merced’s county assessor.

Joanna Garcia-Botehlo is the only woman in the race. She is the CEO of LJB Farms, which grows almonds in Madera County. She has a business degree from CSU Fresno and a law degree from San Joaquin College of Law. Garcia-Botehlo brings another issue to the table: a portion of her farm is one of the proposed routes for the high-speed rail system. On her website, she describes the plan as a “boondoggle.”

Finally, Job Melton is running as a Democrat against Costa, though he was registered as a Republican until recently. He does not appear to have a website for his campaign yet.

Costa started serving in the California legislature in 1978. He became a state senator in 1994 and served until 2002. He won his first national race in 2004 to represent California’s 20th district. After redistricting in 2010, Costa announced he would switch to the 16th district, where he again won in 2012. Costa has been endorsed by the Chamber of Commerce.


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