Jim Costa Likely Wins Re-election

Nov 19th, 2014 | Posted by

After trailing on election night, Congressman Jim Costa – a key figure in the development of the California high speed rail project – appears to have finally won re-election:

For the second time in the past three elections, Fresno Democrat Jim Costa has rallied from an election night vote deficit to win reelection to Congress.

Costa, 62, has a lead of more than 800 votes, and all that awaits is a final report later Wednesday from Fresno County, his strongest part of the 16th Congressional District.

For Costa’s opponent, Johnny Tacherra, to have a chance of winning, the unheralded Republican dairyman from rural Fresno County needed an overwhelming victory margin in the remaining votes from Merced and Madera counties — which to date had been his strongest parts of the district. Both counties finished their vote counts, and Tacherra, 39, actually lost ground to Costa. To have even had a chance of catching Costa, Tacherra would have had to win more than 80% of those votes.

In other words, this election battle is over and Costa has again narrowly prevailed.

The question is what happens from here. 2016 is likely to be a much better year for Costa. But what about 2018? I’m purely speculating here, but Costa may come under pressure from Democrats to retire before 2016 and open up the seat for a Democratic candidate to win it then and be in a better position to hold it in 2018. Costa, of course, could respond by saying that he’s now survived two tough re-election battles (2010 and 2014) and is the more reliable pick to hold the seat.

This is good news for the California high speed rail project. A Costa defeat would not have meaningfully hurt the project, but having Costa in Congress, with his knowledge of the project and his seniority, is a big plus for HSR. Democrats will take the Congress back sooner or later, hopefully in 2016, and when that occurs Costa will be in an excellent position to help guide further development of high speed rail.

Another Central Valley Democrat and strong HSR supporter, John Garamendi, had been considering a bid for the ranking member position on the House’s Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. That would have put him in line to chair the committee when Democrats retake the House majority. But Garamendi ultimately decided to defer to Oregon’s Peter DeFazio, who had more seniority than Garamendi.

Finally, Peninsula Congresswoman Anna Eshoo lost her bid to be the ranking member on the House Energy Committee to New Jersey’s Frank Pallone. It’s not clear what impact this has on HSR exactly, but I thought I’d mention it anyway.

Nancy Pelosi remains the Minority Leader and, should Democrats retake the House in 2016, she would again become Speaker. We can only hope such a glorious day arrives soon.

  1. JCC
    Nov 19th, 2014 at 15:24

    I am surprised that Synmouse has not commented here to state that the electorate are a bunch of brainwashed hooligans and leftists with a grand conspiracy to institute communism. Oh well there is still time for him to show up.

    Joe Reply:

    Or Jump to “Cosa Nostra” and other names for Mafia …

    les Reply:

    i think he’s busy interviewing for a PR position with Tutor-Pereni for when they win package 2-3. His aunt Pelosi got him the interview. But uncle Jerry would only splurge for an Amtrak ticket so he is running late.

    synonymouse Reply:

    “A Costa defeat would not have meaningfully hurt the project”

    How can something this dysfunctional be hurt by anything. It is not real HSR but a kind of glorified TEE. DogLegRAil is like deploying Bugatti Veyron’s as taxis. You can spend a fortune on high-strung hardware but the the software, the philosophy, the business practice is all wrong. Saying PB’s creature is HSR is like saying BART is start of the art rapid transit. It is practically a techno museum piece due to bad planning. BART was intentionally handicapped by its engineers for corrupt political reasons. Ditto JerryRail.

    Real hsr will not be coming to the US via California. We get Boonies BART.

    synonymouse Reply:

    I watched them build BART; they trashed Mission St. The Mission would be a nicer place today without BART. It should have been Muni in the City and “BART” connecting SP East Bay lines with the SP Peninsula lines via a bridge or tube. Ergo they should have seized the SP operation. Nobody had the nerve; certainly not the Bechtels sitting on the SP board.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    BART is the scion of SP’s passenger service in Northern California. There was no takeover because freight isn’t going to switch to broad gauge. BART was a total success, it allowed SP to spin off all its passenger business but not having to sacrifice any track for freight.

    If HSR in CA is BART statewide, the only downsides will be cost and aesthetics. It will be popular and profitable and free up conventional track for freight.

    synonymouse Reply:

    An SP trackage-based “BART” would have been standard gauge.

    There is no passenger service over the Tehachapi Loop.

    JerryRail cannot be repurposed to freight.

    Unlimited population and urbanization sought by the Cheerleaders bodes ill for high speed operation. High speeds are not possible in intensely developed areas even with enormously expensive tunnels due to the political pressure to add many stops alone.

    Remember how noisy BART is. Wait until you hear PB-Tutor’s decibels on miles of hollow-core viaducts. There will be many nuisance complaints as there are with noisy airports. And demands to lower speeds.

    With that kind of infrastructure requirement(see Japan maglev)you might as well go maglev. At least it will be quieter in cities. So you end up with ever slower and slower commute rail that loses money as the population explodes. The entire HSR is inevitable doctrine is based on the notion that air and auto tech will remain static. Unlikely.

    Aircraft are not fazed by mile upon mile of concrete jungle high-rises nor NIMBY’s in the path. The one percent don’t take ghetto BART and its beercan cattlecars nor Palmdalebahn rattling over the DogLeg.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Aircraft are fazed if there’s no airport for them to land at. We can build HSR and divert most of the traffic within California or we can sit in traffic going to the airport where there are extensive delays because of the all the planes.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Many California airports are experiencing low usage. Unless you count drones.

    Sorry, you are not going to be able to create an artificial monopoly BART-style. Jerry is now a senescent lame duck and Gavin will succeed him.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The airport in Redding being underused isn’t much help when you want to go from San Francisco to Burbank.

    synonymouse Reply:

    I thought you wanted to forget about SF-LA.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Nope most of the people will be traveling between the Bay Area and the Los Angeles basin. Airplanes can’t do that very effectively from airports in Fresno and Redding. Airports in San Jose and Anaheim can’t get people from Bakersfield to Sacramento either. A train can. And use the excess capacity available to get Californians to Nevada and vice versa.

  2. synonymouse
    Nov 19th, 2014 at 19:30

    Who can say what will happen in 2 years? The Coronation of Hillary is not such a done deal now.

    But Marine Le Pen might win.

  3. morris brown
    Nov 19th, 2014 at 19:45

    Costa has won the election by 1319 votes according to the Fesno Bee:


    Mac Reply:

    Too bad. He needed to go.

    joe Reply:

    He’s back and the choo-choo is coming to Bakersfield.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Tutor is laughing all the way to the bank.

    Zorro Reply:

    Only 1500 ballots remain to be counted in Fresno County, though Merced and Madera are all counted now…

    *Jim Costa
    (Party Preference: DEM) 46,245(50.7%)

    Johnny Tacherra
    (Party Preference: REP) 44,926(49.3%)

    The difference is still 1319 votes, the final count will be soon.

    Zorro Reply:

    There are No more ballots remaining to be counted in Fresno, Merced and Madera Counties for District 16, all ballots(PDF file) in these 3 counties appear to be counted now…

    *Jim Costa
    (Party Preference: DEM) 46,257(50.7%)

    Johnny Tacherra
    (Party Preference: REP) 44,930(49.3%)

    The difference is 1327 votes, as of Dec 5th, unless there is an update to the website before then, this number looks like it might be final. That could be one less Repub/bagger in Congress…

  4. Howard
    Nov 19th, 2014 at 20:09

    Can he bring home some money for Bus Rapid Transit in Fresno?

    JJJJ Reply:

    He did. $40 million. And then the Fresno City Council said “lol free money no thanks, buses suck”

  5. datacruncher
    Nov 19th, 2014 at 20:27

    I drove 99 a couple of weeks ago and noticed the cranes and other equipment shown in the video. I wondered if it was HSR connected.

    Officials tout clean machines to help Valley air during high-speed rail construction

    Construction has yet to begin on the first stretch of California’s high-speed rail line through the central San Joaquin Valley. But once significant work does start, officials say the heavy equipment to be used will be some of the cleanest machinery available .

    In a show-and-tell event Wednesday at an equipment-staging yard on Golden State Boulevard, near Highway 99 and Herndon Avenue in northwest Fresno, representatives of the California High-Speed Rail Authority, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the state Transportation Agency and the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District touted how the latest-generation diesel machinery will help ease the effects of earth-moving and heavy construction on the Valley’s troubled air.

    Video at:

    Also this part at the end of the above article:

    As far as work moving beyond scattered building demolition to make way for the rail route and into construction, Morales said, “the really exciting thing is that over the next few weeks and months, this equipment won’t be sitting in this yard, but will out in the field doing what it’s supposed to do, which is getting dirty and making things happen.”

    Neither Morales nor Laing would commit to a definite construction start date, but “we’re getting close,” Laing said. For the first major activity, he added, “I expect we’ll go back up to the Fresno River and build the Fresno River bridge.” That structure is anticipated to be an elevated viaduct, between 1,000 and 2,000 feet long, to span the river, Highway 145 and Raymond Road at the east edge of Madera.

    jimsf Reply:

    that bridge would be right here

    synonymouse Reply:

    Fresno Area Rapid Transit

    EJ Reply:


    Jerry Reply:

    Your map shows the river as bare bone dry. Is that normal or because of the drought?

    jimsf Reply:

    I dont know how recent that pic is. But I usually see some water in there when I cross it.

  6. Wells
    Nov 19th, 2014 at 21:41

    January 17th Sacramento Railway Museum open house, mementos, conference dinner.
    Reserve Amtrak seats and lodging, a bit more balmy weather over that weekend.
    Look, just mark the date Jan 17 Sacramento. Whole week good any day, weather permitting.
    Best of luck to loyal HSR planners, fellow reformers/designers. Twisting Chevron’s arm, the San Diego River RedTrolley to Qualcomm & SDSU LRT line was built. In the recent flood, the RedTrolley kept running, like a bridge over a lake. Best of luck and profound certainty regarding HSR options still open.
    Keep up the good work!

  7. john burrows
    Nov 19th, 2014 at 22:32

    Costa manages to keep his job—That is good news, but unfortunately that doesn’t change the fact that CAHSR is not going to get much federal government funding any time soon—certainly not before 2017.

    Without more federal money and assuming that we get no significant private investment until the IOS is well under way—Just how much can we build on our own? From Prop 1-A and from previous Congressional appropriations there is somewhere between $12 and $13 billion.

    Add to that 25% of all future cap-and-trade revenue and what might you expect to get? Gasoline wholesalers have to begin buying credits after the first of the year which should add big-time to CAHSR’s 25% share. And If I understand this right future cap-and-trade revenue might be used as collateral for a loan, possibly from the Feds.

    If high speed rail received an average of $750 million per year over the next 10 years from cap-and-trade, we would have around $20 billion in the pot by 2024. And then if we could use a portion of anticipated cap-and-trade revenue for enough years beyond that to guarantee a $10 billion low interest loan, we would be getting close to financing the IOS.

    john burrows Reply:

    Correction—(SB) 1029 authorizes close to $2 billion from Prop 1-A for “connectivity” projects such as Caltrain electrification, money that will not be available for the IOS.

    Robert S Allen Reply:

    Despite 1029, Caltrain with trackside station platforms and dozens of grade crossings will be unsafe for HSR at 125 mph and prone to train delays. Prop 1A was for “…Safe, Reliable…” HSR. CHSRA needs to end the first phase of HSR to the Bay Area at San Jose, with good connections to Caltrain, Capitol Corridor, Amtrak, VTA rail, and the planned SF-BART. 1029 money pegged for electrifying and extending HSR can be better used for the IOS, the legislators willing. Safety must trump the “one-seat ride” CHSRA is pushing for San Francisco riders.

    Zorro Reply:

    Bah humbug, the platforms will be quite safe, the TGV could use passing tracks between the middle of a station, the record is 357 mph(574.54 kph), Maglev so far can’t beat more than 501kph, grade crossings won’t exist, crossings will be separated, streets going under the grade or maybe over(over would be better)… The TGV(or whatever it’s called) went thru a station at 535 kph(no one got hurt at all), the objective was 540 kph, just after the station they announced another 10 Km to go…

    J. Wong Reply:

    It’s my understanding that they are going to use cap-and-trade funding as the source of funds to back bonds. That is, they are going to sell bonds in the tens of billions to be repaid by the $750 million guaranteed cap-n-trade funds. So per your numbers $30 billion in bonds to be repaid by $750 million / year cap-n-trade. That’s the IOS across the Techapi to Burbank from Merced. Once that’s up and running, they could go back to the voters for more money.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    The GHG revenues are essentially a fail safe if General Funds struggle to pay back Prop 1A bonds. I think while the Legislature might float a revenue bond it won’t be larger than Prop 1A in dollars….

    morris brown Reply:

    @j. wong @ john burrows

    You are simply in dreamland when putting out financing numbers as done above.

    Using costs as predicted for the just passed Prop1 water bond, the information given says that it will cost $360 million / year to finance that 7.545 billion bond on a full 40 year schedule.

    So using your projected numbers of needing $30 billion, that would cost from Cap and Trade funds 1.432 billion per year for 40 years. (since HSR only allocated 25% of possible Cap and Trade funding, that would project total Cap and Trade revenues would have to be $5.7 billion per year — nobody is forecasting that kind of revenue for this source. )

    Than you must be sure to realize that $30 billion won’t be nearly enough as the cost escallate

    john burrows Reply:

    From a report of the Legislative Analysts Office ( February 2014)—titled (Cap-and-Trade Auction Revenue Expenditure Plan)—“Several economists who have evaluated California’s cap-and-trade program have estimated that, over the life of the program, average allowance price may be in the $15 to $20 range. If this were to occur, total revenues for the program through 2020 could be roughly $15 billion. The report also states that revenue during this same period could conceivably vary from a low of $12 billion to a high of $45 billion.

    The 2014-2015 budget spends the first $850 million in cap-and-trade auction revenues, including $250 million for high speed rail. If you subtract the $600 million for non-high speed rail expenditures through 2015 from the $15 billion estimate you have $14.4 billion in potential revenue to apply to the 5 fiscal years from 2015-2016 to 2019-2020 which works out to $2.88 billion per year. The 25% portion going to high speed rail would be $720 million per year which happens to be exactly 2 times the $360 million/year cost to finance the $7.545 billion water bond for 40 years. If $360 million per year will finance a $7.545 billion water bond for 40 years then $720 million per year should theoretically finance a $15.090 billion high speed rail bond for 40 years.

    If I am right, then $15 billion from cap-and-trade, plus $7 billion in available Prop 1-A funding, plus $3.5 billion in Federal funding equals $25.5 billion for the IOS—not enough by itself to do the job, but I would bet enough to easily attract enough additional funding to complete the segment.

    These figures are of course nothing more than speculation on my part because it will be some time before we can make a good estimate as to how much revenue cap-and-trade is likely to bring in—but there is a possibility that it could be more than what I have guessed.

    les Reply:

    Maybe all is not lost with Republican control. If Texas and California appear to be succeeding then politics will most likely change. Republicans of the past didn’t want what was best for the country but only wanted control and to make Obama sniff petro fumes. Control is theirs now so maybe Obama doesn’t have to be the pied-piper. Republicans are notorious for jumping on the bandwagon of successful Democratic visions. Carter was big on creating the DOE and investing in fracking. Look where that’s at now.


    synonymouse Reply:

    What’s not Repub about spending OPM to benefit real estate developers?

  8. JJJJ
    Nov 20th, 2014 at 07:13

    Costa is essentially the reason the federal funding REQUIRED that the initial money go to the central valley, or more specifically, his district.

    Its baffling he never ran on bringing home billions of dollars.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    No it’s not baffling.

    The major employers and donors in his district know he would pick up very few votes that way. They would rather run on other stuff.

    JJJJ Reply:

    What other stuff? And clearly his strategy isnt working if hes barely winning against an unfunded no-name opponent.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    In Costa’s case he might have thought inaction on immigration wouldn’t have hurt him a much as it did with second generation Latino voters while his support for the water bond he thought would get him crossover appeal with Republicans. As a Blue Dog, he’s living on borrowed time no matter what he does.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    It will probably be easier for him to run on the jobs once construction has picked up. He should have no problems winning re-election in 2016.

  9. Matthew
    Nov 23rd, 2014 at 21:41

    Heh. Democrats have infinitesimally small probability of taking back the House prior to the next Census and redistricting. So sometime in the 2020s. And frankly, with Democratic control of various state legislatures failing, probably not even then.

    Republicans had better control last time around, and they used it to lock in the gerrymander.

    I don’t think the Democrats can control the House again for many cycles, not without some kind of massive ‘wave’ of support changing. Maybe populations will shift around and render the gerrymander moot.

    Or not.

    joe Reply:

    The OP apartheid party. I think they have a very bright future. Voter suppression is pure genius.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Apartheid party? Really?

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Really. Apartheid is a loaded term but it’s an apt description of California socioeconomically.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    No, it isn’t.

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