Jim Costa responds to attacks from the right, and the left

FRESNO, California

While Republicans have characterized him as a liberal Democrat, a liberal environmental organization, the League of Conservation Voters is running TV ads, accusing him of being too conservative, suggesting he voted for oil companies and air pollution.

In response, Costa told Action News: "I will continue to vote on behalf of the people of our Valley and not subject to some Washington groups."

The votes cited in the ad had to do with energy exploration and increasing oil production in the United States. And Costa's votes were in line with the other members of the Valley's Congressional delegation.

Political Science Professor Tom Holyoke of Fresno State doesn't believe the league wants Costa to lose to a Republican, just to pay attention to their agenda. "What the league is doing is trying to raise the issue of smog awareness as a major political issue."

Costa says the ads are unfair, and also blasted Republican accusations that he has not done enough to bring water to the Valley. "It's an outright falsification by those who try to perpetrate these political lies."

Holyoke says Costa is being caught in the middle. "It kind of reminds me of that old Rodney Dangerfield skit, about not being able to get any respect. The Republican Party bashes him, the liberal side of the Democratic Party bashes him, and of course in the end what matters is what rings true with his constituents or new constituents."

Those new constituents will be in the newly drawn 16th Congressional District which contains parts of Costa's current District and, Costa says it includes some familiar territory: "I like it. I like it. The city of Fresno has always been my sweet spot its half of the district, county of Merced I represented during my years in the state legislature."

The majority of the voters in the new district Costa hopes to represent are Democrats, but several local Republicans are considering a challenge.

Former Fresno Mayor Jim Patterson says he is studying a run. So is current city council member Clint Olivier. Council members Andreas Borgeas and Larry Westerlund are also said to be considering the race.

Costa told us he'll worry about the possible competition after Republicans decide who they want in the June primary. No Democratic primary challenger to Costa has yet emerged.

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