ENG: James Manuel "Jim" Costa (born April 13, 1952) is the U.S. Representative for California's 16th congressional district, serving in Congress since his initial election in 2004. He is a member of the Democratic Party. The district takes in large and predominantly Latino portions of Fresno and Bakersfield in the Central Valley. His district includes heavily agricultural Fresno County.
Early life and education
Born in Fresno, Costa is a third-generation family farmer. His grandparents emigrated from Portugal's Azores Islands in the early 20th century.
He attended San Joaquin Memorial High School and graduated in the class of 1970. He then graduated in 1974 from Fresno State, where he was a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon. He worked as a special assistant to Congressman John Krebs from 1975 to 1976, and as administrative assistant to Assemblyman Richard Lehman from 1976 to 1978.
Costa represented part of Fresno in the state legislature for 24 years, serving in the California State Assembly from 1978 until 1994, and in the California State Senate from 1994 until 2002.
U.S. House of Representatives - Tenure
Like most Democrats from the Central Valley, Costa is somewhat more conservative than is typical for Democrats from California. He is a member of the Blue Dog Coalition.
Political campaigns - 2004
In 2004, Costa entered the Democratic primary for the 20th District, which was opened up by the retirement of its seven-term incumbent, Cal Dooley.
While Dooley endorsed his chief of staff, Lisa Quigley, as his successor, nearly all of the state Democratic establishment, including Senator Dianne Feinstein, endorsed Costa. Costa won a bruising primary and faced Republican Party state senator Roy Ashburn in November.
On paper, Costa was an overwhelming favorite. The 20th district is a heavily Democratic, 63% Latino-majority district; it gave Al Gore his highest vote total outside the state's two large conurbations (Sacramento and the San Francisco Bay Area in the north and Los Angeles and San Diego to the south). Nonetheless, the Republicans spent a substantial amount of money on the race. Ashburn's campaign made plays on Costa's name, "Costa's going to cost ya," and linked him to former Governor Gray Davis, calling them "two taxing twins." Ultimately, Costa won the election with 54% of the vote to Ashburn's 46%.
Ashburn only kept the margin within single digits by winning heavily Republican Kings County.
Costa ran unopposed for reelection in 2006. The Democrats won control of the House in that election, and Costa became chairman of the Natural Resources Committee's Energy and Mineral Resources Subcommittee. He is also a member of the House Agriculture Committee.
Costa was reelected in 2008 with 74 percent of the vote, the highest percentage for a Democratic incumbent outside Sacramento, the Bay Area and Southern California.
Costa was challenged for reelection by Republican nominee Andy Vidak. In his closest race yet, the race was officially called for Costa nearly three weeks after Election Day, with the unofficial final tally standing at 45,806 votes (51.8%) for Costa and 42,773 votes (48.2%) for Vidak.
Redistricting following the 2010 Census made Costa's district more heavily Republican. In February 2012, Costa officially announced that he would run in the newly-formed 16th Congressional District. He faced Republican Brian Whelan in the general election.
After the new districts were announced, it was reported that the NRCC considered Costa vulnerable to defeat.
In November 2011, the League of Conservation Voters ran a series of TV ads in Costa's district criticizing his environmental record.
Costa was reelected in 2012 with 54% of the vote.
January 24, 2013