Rep. Jim Costa maintains his incumbent advantage for Congress, leading all of his challengers for California’s 16th District seat in the money race following the latest filing period.

According to the Federal Election Commission, Costa, the eight-term Democrat, is ahead in all metrics of campaign financing: money raised for the quarter and the year, money spent, and cash on hand.

His closest challenger is a fellow Democrat, Fresno councilwoman Esmeralda Soria. Two other announced candidates — Merced Democrat Kim Williams, and Fresno County Republican Kevin Cookingham — lag well behind.

The FEC contribution limits are $2,800 per cycle (primary and general) for individuals, and generally $5,000 per political action committee (PAC).

Inside Costa’s Numbers

Costa’s fundraising shows he has support from many industries, as evidenced by his strong corporate contributions. He also has many individual supporters from the farm industry, several from the Central Valley.

Portrait of Jim Costa

“As my campaign continues to press forward, I will continue to represent our Valley’s issues with the respect, passion, and integrity they deserve, deploying our resources to ensure everyone has a voice in our political system.” — Rep. Jim Costa

“My most recent campaign finance filing will show that we have amassed over half-a-million dollars in the bank, representing the broad and diverse coalition of support I have earned throughout our Valley,” Costa said in a news release. “As my campaign continues to press forward, I will continue to represent our Valley’s issues with the respect, passion, and integrity they deserve, deploying our resources to ensure everyone has a voice in our political system.”

Sixty percent of Costa’s fundraising totals for the year came from political action committees. That includes at least 27 PAC or corporations that contributed the cycle maximum of $5,000.

In total, 158 committees contributed more than $428,000 to Costa. The contributors represent a variety of sectors: ag, manufacturing, labor, energy, and social issues to name a few.

Costa also received support from committees controlled by other elected leaders, such as Ameripac, founded by Democratic Leader Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Maryland).

Of Costa’s individual contributors, 15 have maxed out with $5,600 ($2,800 per cycle), including Chowchilla farmer Ralph Fagundes; Lynda Resnick and Stewart Resnick of the Wonderful Company; Fresno developer Tom Richards of the Penstar Group; and Fresno County farmer Dan Gerawan.

Other names of note supporting Costa in the third quarter: winemaker Robert Gallo ($2,000); Fresno County farmer Charanjit Batth ($1,000); Fresno EOC CEO Brian Angus ($1,500); president of the California Fresh Fruit Association (and former Costa chief of staff) Ian LeMay ($1,000); restaurateur Robert Salazar of Bobby Salazar’s ($1,000); and Fresno State President Joseph Castro ($250).

Inside Soria’s Numbers

Soria, in her first reporting period since announcing her run in July, is living up to her pledge to not take corporate PAC money. However, she has accepted union-funded PAC dollars.

Esmeralda Soria

“I am humbled by the overwhelming support from people in the Valley and their willingness to stand with me as we seek change in our community.”CA-16 challenger Esmeralda Soria

“I made a promise to reject the status quo of corporate PACs and focus on representing the working families of my district. I am humbled by the overwhelming support from people in the Valley and their willingness to stand with me as we seek change in our community,” Soria said in a news release.

Three union PACs gave the $5,000 maximum: IBEW PAC Voluntary Fund, the Pipe Trades District Council No. 36 Federal PAC Fund, and Fresno City Firefighters IAFF Local 753 PAC.

Most of Soria’s campaign money, 88%, comes from individual contributors.

Several are involved in Fresno area business ventures. Among them: Soria’s boyfriend and developer Terance Frazier ($5,600 through two contributions); Wathan Castanos Homes owner Peter Castanos ($4,500 through two contributions);  Integrated Community Development partners Charles Brumbaugh ($5,600 through two contributions), Benjamin Lingo ($5,600 through two contributions), and Jake Lingo ($5,600 through two contributions); Bahram Shawn Shiralian, CEO of energy company Shiralian Enterprises ($2,800); cannabis entrepreneur and CEO of the CBD Center Scott Van Horn ($2,595); and CEO of Mid Valley Disposal Joseph Kalpakoff ($2,000).

Soria has recused herself on city council votes involving Frazier’s enterprises, which include some downtown developments, and Granite Park. Integrated Community Development is in the process of building a $38 million mixed-use/affordable housing project in Soria’s district.

Notable political friends include Fresno councilman Miguel Arias ($2,000 through his 2018 council campaign account); State Center Community College District Trustee Annalisa Perea ($2,000 through her campaign account); former Assemblyman Juan Arambula, and his wife Amelia ($1,000 each); former county supervisor and city councilman Henry R. Perea ($600);  former Fresno councilman Dan Ronquillo ($600); 22nd Congressional District candidate Dary Rezvani ($500); and San Diego County Supervisor and former state legislator Nathan Fletcher ($250).

Two members of the Fresno Planning Commission also contributed: Brad Hardie ($1,000) and Lourdes Diaz (also known as Monica Diaz) ($500).

By The Numbers

Candidate Raised
July-Sept. 2019
Raised

2019

Spent

2019

Debt Cash on Hand
*Jim Costa (D) $269,270 $714,176 $249,533 $12,789 $575,532
Esmeralda Soria (D) $153,085 $153,085 $20,252 $15,416 $132,832
Kim Williams (D) $21,344 $28,869 $27,239 $750 $1,629
Kevin Cookingham (R) $24,586 $24,586 $12,839 $2,431 $12,746

*incumbent

The reporting date for the 2019 year-end report is Jan. 31.

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