Rep. Jim Costa will return to Capitol Hill for a fourth term after the latest vote tally gave the California Democrat an insurmountable lead over Republican Andy Vidak.
The Associated Press called the race for Costa on Tuesday, three weeks after the midterm elections. His victory keeps the Republican midterm pickups at 63 — a total reached earlier Tuesday, when GOP candidate Ann Marie Buerkle was declared the winner over Rep. Dan Maffei in New York’s 25th district.
Just two outstanding races remain: the New York 1st district race between Rep. Tim Bishop (D) and challenger Randy Altschuler; and the race between Rep. Jerry McNerney (D) and David Harmer in California’s 11th district.
Costa took a 3,031-vote lead when vote counting was completed Monday in Kern County. Kings County completed its count weeks ago, leaving only Fresno County with outstanding ballots in the Central Valley-based 20th district. But there reportedly are fewer uncounted Fresno votes than Costa’s current lead. Multiple phone calls to the Fresno County Registrar of Voters went unanswered.
Costa declared victory Nov. 10, when his lead grew to 1,200 votes. With only Fresno and Kern counties still tallying votes at that point, Costa claimed his lead would only grow — which it did.
He leads those two counties by a combined total of 13,388 votes. Vidak leads Kings by 10,357 votes.
"Since election night, our vote margin has steadily increased," Costa said in a statement Tuesday. "With only a few votes left to be counted, it is clear the election is over. I am honored that the people of our Valley have given me the opportunity to continue serving our communities in Congress."
The Democratic district was not an obvious target for the GOP, and it was one of the last to enter the competitive landscape in the midterm cycle. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee reported more than $560,000 in independent expenditures on the race.
The race proved that the district has the potential to be more competitive than it appeared in 2008, when President Barack Obama carried it by 21 points and Costa won by 48 points against an underfunded Republican. Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) won it in the 2004 presidential election by just 3 points.