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Jim Costa

Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 20th district
Assumed office 
January 3, 2005
Preceded by Cal Dooley

Born April 13, 1952 (1952-04-13) (age 57)
Fresno, California
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) single
Residence Fresno, California
Alma mater California State University, Fresno
Occupation rancher, political assistant
Religion Roman Catholic

James Manuel "Jim" Costa (born April 13, 1952) is a Democratic politician from the U.S. state of California. He was elected to the United States House of Representatives in November 2004 to represent California's 20th congressional district (map). The district takes in large and predominantly Latino portions of Fresno and Bakersfield in the Central Valley.

Born in Fresno, Costa is a third-generation family farmer. His grandparents emigrated from Portugal's Azores Islands in the early 20th century.[citation needed] He attended San Joaquin Memorial High School and graduated in the class of 1970. After high school, he graduated in 1974 from Fresno State, where he was a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon. He represented part of Fresno in the state legislature for 24 years, serving in the California State Assembly from 1978 until 1994, and in the California State Senate from 1994 until 2002.

In 2004, Costa entered the Democratic primary for the 20th District, which was opened up by the retirement of its seven-term incumbent, Cal Dooley. While Dooley endorsed his chief of staff, Lisa Quigley, as his successor, nearly all of the state Democratic establishment, including Senator Dianne Feinstein, endorsed Costa. Costa won a bruising primary and faced Republican Party state senator Roy Ashburn in November.

On paper, Costa was an overwhelming favorite. The 20th district is a heavily Democratic, 63% Latino-majority district; it gave Al Gore his highest vote total outside the state's two large conurbations (Sacramento and the San Francisco Bay Area in the north and Los Angeles and San Diego to the south). Nonetheless, the Republicans spent a substantial amount of money on the race. Ashburn's campaign made plays on Costa's name, "Costa's going to cost ya," and linked him to former Governor Gray Davis, calling them "two taxing twins." Ultimately, Costa won the election with 54% of the vote to Ashburn's 46%.

Costa ran unopposed for reelection in 2006. The Democrats won control of the House in that election, and Costa became chairman of the Natural Resources Committee's Energy and Mineral Resources Subcommittee. He is also a member of the House Agriculture Committee. He was reelected in 2008 with 74 percent of the vote, the highest percentage for a Democratic incumbent outside Sacramento, the Bay Area and Southern California.

Like most Democrats from the Central Valley, Costa is somewhat more conservative than is typical for Democrats from California. He is a member of the Blue Dog Coalition.

Committee Assignments



  • Co-founder and Co-chair of the Congressional Victims' Rights Caucus
  • Co-founder of the Congressional Water Caucus
  • Co-founder of the Congressional Organ Donation Caucus

External links

California Assembly
Preceded by
Ken Maddy
California State Assemblyman, 30th District
Succeeded by
Brian Setencich
California Senate
Preceded by
Phil Wyman
California State Senator, 16th District
Succeeded by
Dean Florez
United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Cal Dooley
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 20th congressional district

Succeeded by


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