Jim Costa

This page was last edited on 20 January 2018, at 20:21.

James Manuel Costa, ComM /ˈkɒstə/ (born April 13, 1952) is the U.S. Representative for California's 16th congressional district, serving as a Democrat in Congress since his initial election in 2004. He previously served in the California State Assembly from 1978 until 1994, and in the State Senate from 1994 until 2002. At the time of his election to the California State Legislature, he was the youngest member of the legislature at the age of 26. During his time in the California State Assembly, he served as the Majority Caucus Chair. His Central Valley (California) congressional district takes in large and predominantly Latino portions of Fresno. Congressman Costa is chair of the Blue Dog Coalition and ranking member of the United States House Agriculture Subcommittee on Rural Development, Research, Biotechnology, and Foreign Agriculture.

Jim Costa
Jim Costa official photo
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 16th district
Assumed office
January 3, 2013
Preceded by Zoe Lofgren
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 20th district
In office
January 3, 2005 – January 3, 2013
Preceded by Cal Dooley
Succeeded by Sam Farr
Personal details
Born James Manuel Costa
April 13, 1952 (age 65)
Fresno, California, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Education California State University, Fresno (BA)

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 got initiated into 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.

California Legislature

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. In 1986, he was cited for soliciting prostitution after being arrested with a 19-year-old prostitute to whom Costa paid $50.[1] Calling the incident "an error of judgement" he pleaded no contest to the charge.[1]

U.S. House of Representatives

Committee assignments

Caucus memberships

  • Beef Caucus Specialty
  • Congressional Organ Donation Caucus (Co-Founder)
  • Congressional Soils Caucus
  • Congressional Victims' Rights Caucus (Co-Founder and Co-Chair)
  • Congressional Water Caucus (Co-Founder)
  • Methamphetamine Caucus


Health care

Costa was reportedly a holdout vote on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, in March 2010. He ultimately voted in favor of the legislation.[2] To gain Costa's vote, the House leadership reportedly promised Costa and Dennis Cardoza funding for a medical school for California's Central Valley.[3]

High-speed rail

Costa has been an advocate of creating a high-speed rail system that would go up and down California as well as across the nation at speeds of 225 miles-per-hour. He has introduced many bills supporting these rails; so far, none have passed. Miller has compared rail projects to Eisenhower's highway expansion and pleaded to Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and President Obama for help in with this project.[4]

In April 2008, Costa wrote a piece in Capitol Weekly calling for high-speed rail in California.[5]

Lao- and Hmong-Americans, Laos Memorial & Veterans Burial Honors Bill

Tens of thousands of minority Laotian- and Hmong-American veterans and their refugee families reside in Congressman Costa's district, having been resettled as political refugees in California—when they fled persecution from the Marxist regime in communist Laos following the end of the Vietnam War in 1975 and the military takeover of the Kingdom of Laos by the Pathet Lao and communist forces from Vietnam. Costa garnered support from this significant Lao- and Hmong-American community in California, in large part, because of his leadership and support for S. 200, "The Lao Hmong Veterans Burial Honors Bill," co-introduced by Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, which would grant burial honors to Lao and Hmong Veterans of the U.S. Secret War in Laos.[6][7][8]

Each year, the Fresno-based Lao Veterans of America and The Centre for Public Policy Analysis organize delegations from the Central Valley, and Rep. Costa's district, that travel to Washington, D.C., and Arlington National Cemetery to pay homage at the Laos Memorial and honor the Lao- and Hmong-American veterans, and their American advisers, who served and died with U.S. CIA Central Intelligence Agency clandestine and military forces during the Vietnam War.[9][10][11]

Syrian refugees

Costa voted on Nov. 19, 2015, for HR 4038, legislation that would effectively halt the resettlement of refugees from Syria and Iraq to the United States.[12]

Keystone XL Pipeline

In January 2015, Costa was one of the twenty-eight democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives who voted in favor of building the controversial Keystone XL pipeline.

District of Columbia rights

In May 2016, Costa was one of two Democrats who supported the unprecedented step of overturning a District of Columbia referendum.[13] The measure, passed by a vast majority of DC voters, would allow the District to spend its own tax dollars without Congressional approval.[13]

Political campaigns


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. Dooley endorsed his chief of staff, Lisa Quigley, as his successor, but most of the state's Democratic Party establishment, including Senator Dianne Feinstein, endorsed Costa, who won the bruising primary and faced Republican Party state senator Roy Ashburn in November.

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". Costa won the election with 54% of the vote to Ashburn's 46%. Ashburn 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 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,[14] with the unofficial final tally standing at 45,806 votes (51.8%) for Costa and 42,773 votes (48.2%) for Vidak.


For his first four terms, Costa represented a district including most of the majority-Latino portions of Fresno and Bakersfield. However, redistricting following the 2010 Census renumbered his district as the 21st district and made it slightly more Republican. In February 2012, Costa officially announced that he would run in the newly formed 16th District, a much more compact district that included most of Fresno as well as most of Merced.[15] While most of his old territory remained in the 21st, the new 16th absorbed most of the Fresno County portion of his old district, including his home.

Costa 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.[16] However, had it existed in 2008, Barack Obama would have carried it with 57 percent of the vote.[17]

In November 2011, the League of Conservation Voters ran a series of TV ads in Costa's district criticizing his environmental record.[18] Costa was reelected in 2012 with 54% of the vote.[19]


Costa faced an unexpectedly close race against Republican Johnny Tacherra, a dairyman from rural Fresno County. On election night, Tacherra led by 736 votes, a margin that grew to 1,772 votes a few days later. However, Tacherra's lead evaporated as counting continued, and Costa squeaked past him by 1,319 votes.[20] While Tacherra carried the district's portions of Merced and Madera counties, Costa swamped him in Fresno County by 9,600 votes.[21]


On June 7, 2016, Jim Costa was the sole Democratic candidate in the 2016 "top two" primary, and was ahead on June 28, with 55.9%, 50,917 votes. He is expected to be paired once again in the general election with Republican Johnny Tacherra, who was in second place with 33.1%, 30,342 votes.[22] The counting of ballots was finalized on June 30.



  1. ^ a b O'NEILL, Stephanie (5 September 1986). "Assemblyman in Prostitute Incident Issues Apology". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 5 September 2015.
  2. ^ "Costa a yes". Politico. March 10, 2010.
  3. ^ "Side deals stack up as health bills move along". The Hill. November 23, 2009.
  4. ^ "Jim Costa". Political Profile. The Washington Post. August 21, 2012.
  5. ^ "High speed rail: a viable transportation system for California". Capitol Weekly. Archived from the original on February 9, 2011. Retrieved November 15, 2014.
  6. ^ Doyle, Michael, McClatchy News (October 28, 2009) "Hmong, Lao veterans seek burials in national cemeteries", http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2009/10/28/77920/hmong-lao-veterans-seek-burials.html#.Ue86Em3c2E4#storylink=cpy
  7. ^ "Laos, Hmong Veterans Burial Honors Bill Introduced in U.S. Senate", China Weekly News, February 19, 2013.
  8. ^ "Hmong soldiers who aided U.S. seek burial in national cemeteries", Los Angeles Times, February 6, 2013.
  9. ^ Doyle, Michael,"Central Valley Hmong among those honoring dead from war", Modesto Bee, May 12, 2013.
  10. ^ "Laos, Hmong Veterans Honored At National Ceremonies", Scoop Independent News, Auckland, New Zealand, May 15, 2012.
  11. ^ "Laos, Hmong Veterans of Vietnam War Honored At National Ceremonies", businesswire.com, May 12, 2013.
  12. ^ http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-pol-ca-inside-syrian-refugee-vote-california-20151120-story.html
  13. ^ a b Davis, Aaron (25 May 2016). "House Republicans take unprecedented step to upend local D.C. law". The Washington Post. Retrieved 25 May 2016.
  14. ^ "Costa Holds Seat, Keeps GOP Pickups at 63: Roll Call Politics". Rollcall.com. 2010-11-23. Retrieved 2011-10-30.
  15. ^ "Rep. Jim Costa Announces Reelection Campaign". CBS.
  16. ^ "Republicans Tout Redistricting Gains". National Journal. March 28, 2012. Archived from the original on October 19, 2012.
  17. ^ Daily Kos presidential results by congressional district
  18. ^ "Jim Costa responds to attacks from the right, and the left". ABC News.
  19. ^ "U.S. House: California District 16 - 2012 Election Center". CNN.
  20. ^ "Jim Costa keeps House seat, edging out Johnny Tacherra in another late-vote rally". Fresno Bee. November 19, 2014. Retrieved December 11, 2014.
  21. ^ 2014 election results from CNN
  22. ^ 16 District returns Archived 2016-07-09 at the Wayback Machine., California Secretary of State, June 28, 2016. Retrieved 28 June 2016.
  23. ^ "Cidadãos Estrangeiros Agraciados com Ordens Portuguesas". Página Oficial das Ordens Honoríficas Portuguesas. Retrieved 1 August 2017.

External links

California Assembly
Preceded by
Ken Maddy
Member of the California Assembly
from the 30th district

Succeeded by
Brian Setencich
California Senate
Preceded by
Phil Wyman
Member of the California Senate
from the 16th district

Succeeded by
Dean Florez
U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Cal Dooley
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 20th congressional district

Succeeded by
Sam Farr
Preceded by
Zoe Lofgren
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 16th congressional district

Party political offices
Preceded by
Kurt Schrader
Chair of the Blue Dog Coalition for Communications
Served alongside: Kurt Schrader (Administration), Jim Cooper (Policy)
Succeeded by
Henry Cuellar
Chair of the Blue Dog Coalition for Administration
Served alongside: Henry Cuellar (Communications), Dan Lipinski (Policy)
Current U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Mike Conaway
United States Representatives by seniority
Succeeded by
Henry Cuellar

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