Based on our analysis, there is no progressive candidate to recommend for your vote in this race.
About the Position
The United States is divided into 435 congressional districts, each with a population of about 710,000 individuals. Each district elects a representative to the House of Representatives for a two-year term. California has 53 congressional representatives. There is no term limit for this position.
About the District
California's 16th Congressional District includes parts of Merced, Fresno, and Madera Counties. This district has long been held by Democrats. This district has voted in support of Democratic state and national candidates in recent years, supporting Hillary Clinton with 58 percent of the vote in 2016, and Gavin Newsom with 56 percent of the vote in 2018.
About the Race
In the primary, Democrat incumbent Representative Jim Costa led Republican challenger Kevin Cookingham by a margin of 2.3 percent, and the three Democratic candidates in the primary took a combined 64.8 percent of the overall vote. Rep. Costa’s campaign has not pledged to refuse corporate PAC money, fossil fuel money, or police money. He has a substantial number of donations from the oil and gas industry, including ConocoPhilips Spirit, Exxon Mobil Corporation, and Halliburton Company. He has also received donations from the PAC associated with Koch Industries, which has acted as a Republican mega-donor in recent years and has actively opposed climate change legislation. Cookingham’s campaign has also not committed to any pledges, and is primarily funded through large-dollar individual donations and funds he has personally donated to his campaign.
About the Democratic Incumbent
Rep. Costa is the incumbent, having served as congressmember for the 16th district since 2012. He has supported legislation that would reduce environmental regulations, voted in favor of the Keystone XL pipeline, and supported a measure to continue the sale of arms to Saudi Arabia. As a member of the state legislature in the 1990s, Rep. Costa helped to introduce and pass California’s three-strikes legislation, which instituted harsh sentencing standards for individuals who were charged with multiple criminal offenses. He also co-authored the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act, which significantly reduced the authority of municipalities to establish local rent-control policies. The passage of Proposition 21 in this election would effectively repeal and replace Costa-Hawkins (Courage California endorses a YES vote on Proposition 21!). Based on his track record, Rep. Costa is likely to provide no progressive leadership in office.
Rep. Costa’s priorities for CA-16 this year have included improving relations with the European Union, repairing the Delta-Mendota Canal and the California Aqueduct, and establishing a high-speed rail system in the state. He currently sits on three committees: Natural Resources (ranks 3rd), Agriculture (ranks 3rd), and Foreign Affairs (Ranks 24th). Rep. Costa has sponsored 11 bills about high-speed rail development, supporting different groups through designated recognition events, and establishing more medical schools in underserved regions of the country.
All of his proposed bills are in committee or have been referred to committee. Rep. Costa is endorsed by Peace Officers Research Association of California and Blue Dog Coalition.
Challenger Cookingham, a career educator and school administrator, is from Fresno, CA. His platform encourages homelessness to be managed by faith-based organizations, argues that health insurance is not a fundamental human need, and opposes abortion rights.
Because the Democratic candidate in this race is considered to be a safe win in this district, we feel comfortable providing no recommendation in this race. Establishing progressive leadership in this district will be a priority in the next election. Keep reading for progressive recommendations in other key races and on ballot measures where your vote can make a critical difference.