Your Voice Your Vote: Jim Costa, Kevin Cookingham running for District 16

The 16th district includes portions of Fresno, Madera and Merced counties.
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Incumbent Congressman Jim Costa (D-Fresno) is looking to retain his seat against Republican Kevin Cookingham in District 16.

The district covers a wide area, from a large portion of Fresno to Madera and Merced counties, including Dos Palos and Los Banos.

Costa has held public office for over four decades: state assembly, state senate, then eight terms on Capitol Hill.

Cookingham believes it is time for a change.

Cookingham says, "I can't find a person yet who goes, 'Oh yeah, it's good for a person to be in politics for 40 years'. So that's the first thing, the mood has changed."

The 68-year-old Costa countered he still has the energy to get projects done, like helping UC Merced and UCSF establish a medical school.

Costa said, "In this time of need, frankly, we need experience and expertise, and I have it. He does not."

During the March primary, Cookingham stayed within 2 points of Costa - 37-35%.

But Fresno State Political Science professor Thomas Holyoke pointed out Costa was fending off a Democratic challenger in councilmember Esmeralda Soria.

Holyoke explained, "The Democratic vote was getting split quite a bit. Cookingham, who's bringing in mostly Republican votes, is not likely to increase his percentage all that much in the general election."

Democrats held a 45-25% edge in voter registration in the district.

But that hasn't deterred Cookingham, a retired educator who was in charge of the Clovis Adult and Online schools.

He said, "The biggest issue in this race number one are jobs, and that's my forte. That's what we did at Clovis Adult. We had career tech education programs. We had 99% success in our nursing programs."

Costa ran again because he said his work is not yet done. "Investing in transportation systems... I'm very proud of the 5th and 6th lane that will be completed early next year on highway 99 between Avenue 17 and Avenue 12 in Madera," he said.

Holyoke gave Costa the edge in the 16th congressional district, adding that it is difficult for an unknown to gain a lot of exposure. He said, "I would be surprised if this turns into a really close election."

Over the years, Congressman Costa has been involved in several tight battles with Republican challengers, so he won't be underestimating Kevin Cookingham.
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