California dairyman Johnny Tacherra surprised many national observers by taking a lead over longtime Democratic congressman Jim Costa on Election Night in a race that wasn’t supposed to be close. But now that three counties have tallied remaining provisional and absentee ballots in the weeks following, it looks like Costa will head back to Washington, and Tacherra back to the farm that has been in his family for three generations.
On Wednesday, officials from Fresno, Madera, and Merced counties announced their final totals, giving Costa a 1,319-vote victory over Tacherra. When Tacherra left for Washington last week to participate in freshmen-member orientation, he led Costa by 741 votes. Costa managed to close the gap with a strong showing in Democrat-leaning Fresno County, and by narrowing the margin in the more conservative Madera and Merced counties through the remaining ballots versus the turnout on Election Day.
As I wrote about Tacherra, he managed to make a seemingly out-of-reach race surprisingly competitive by reaching out to — and winning over — traditionally Democratic constituencies. Coupled with the district’s souring on Costa, Tacherra looked poised for a potential upset after receiving no financial backing from national Republican groups. Next cycle, Republican will surely give California’s 16th congressional district more attention, especially if Tacherra decides to jump in again.