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 CostaHouse Democrats call on State Department for information on Uighur prisoner Ekpar Asat Hispanic Caucus requests meeting with private detention center CEOs Black Caucus rallies behind Meeks for Foreign Affairs gavel 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.


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 HarrisSix notable moments from Trump and Biden's '60 Minutes' interviews Harris lists out 'racist' actions by Trump in '60 minutes' interview: 'It all speaks for itself' Pence travel questioned after aides test positive MORE and Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinDemocrats to boycott committee vote on Amy Coney Barrett's Supreme Court nomination The Senate should evoke RBG in its confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Goldman Sachs - Pelosi, Mnuchin push stimulus talks forward, McConnell applies brakes MORE as well as Gov. Gavin NewsomGavin Newsom10 under-the-radar races to watch in November How California turned the corner on COVID-19 Senate Health Committee chair asks Cuomo, Newsom to 'stop second guessing' FDA on vaccine efficacy 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 TrumpFox News president, top anchors advised to quarantine after coronavirus exposure: report Six notable moments from Trump and Biden's '60 Minutes' interviews Biden on attacks on mental fitness: Trump thought '9/11 attack was 7/11 attack' 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.


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.