Moderate Democrat fends off liberal primary challenge in California 

Moderate Democrat fends off liberal primary challenge in California 
© Stefani Reynolds

Moderate Rep. Jim CostaJames (Jim) Manuel CostaLet's support and ensure the safety of workers risking so much for us Five factors to watch in the meat supply chain crisis Lawmakers, union leaders call for increased safety measures in meat plants MORE (D-Calif.) defeated his most serious primary challenge to date this week and will advance to the general election in November against Republican Kevin Cookingham.

Costa, an eight-term incumbent and member of the Blue Dog Coalition, faced a liberal challenge from Fresno City Councilwoman Esmeralda Soria.

The Associated Press declared Costa the winner of the Democratic race on Friday afternoon, three days after the primary.

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Soria, 37, successfully prevented Costa from winning the state Democratic Party’s endorsement for seat, underscoring his vulnerability in Tuesday’s primary race.

But Costa, 67, still held a cash advantage with more than $1 million in the bank over Soria’s $345,000. He also secured endorsements from members of the state party establishment like California Democratic Sens. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisTrump retweets personal attacks on Clinton, Pelosi, Abrams It's as if a Trump operative infiltrated the Democratic primary process OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Coal company sues EPA over power plant pollution regulation | Automakers fight effort to freeze fuel efficiency standards | EPA watchdog may probe agency's response to California water issues MORE and Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinLet's support and ensure the safety of workers risking so much for us Congress eyes changes to small business pandemic aid Graham announces vote on subpoenas for Comey, Obama-era intel officials MORE as well as Gov. Gavin NewsomGavin Christopher NewsomGOP sues California over Newsom's vote-by-mail order Trump sides with religious leaders in fight against governors Watch live: California Gov. Newsom gives coronavirus updates MORE.

Soria, the daughter of Mexican immigrant farmworkers, has pledged to reject corporate PAC funds and supports "Medicare for All."

Costa has voted with Republicans to back policies like delaying implementation of ozone standards and rejecting a push on the left to abolish Immigration and Customs Enforcement, but he also has voted in line with Democrats on issues like impeaching President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump retweets personal attacks on Clinton, Pelosi, Abrams Biden swipes at Trump: 'Presidency is about a lot more than tweeting from your golf cart' GOP sues California over Newsom's vote-by-mail order MORE.

The Central Valley district is not expected to be competitive in the general election, given that Democrats hold a 20-point voter registration advantage there.

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Costa handily won reelection in the last two cycles, but only narrowly defeated a little-known Republican in the 2014 midterms in a race that had not been considered competitive. 

A third Democrat, Kimberly Williams, also ran in Tuesday’s primary even further to the left than Soria, but didn’t gain as much traction.

Cookingham, a former educator and director of Hume Lake Christian Camps, is far behind both Costa or Soria in fundraising with just a little over $85,000.