Merced · Politics

Merced Mayor decides against challenge to Costa

After a bit of mulling, Merced Mayor Mike Murphy opted against challenging long-time Rep. Jim Costa (D–Fresno) in 2020.

In a statement released Thursday morning, Murphy said the large overlap between a Congressional bid and his final year in office was a sizeable factor in deciding against a run.

“2020 will be my final year as mayor and there are still a lot of important projects that I want to get across the finish line while I am in office,” Murphy said in a statement. “Devoting my final year as Mayor to a congressional race would detract from that focus.”

Murphy initially hinted at a possible bid against Costa earlier this month. Despite being currently registered as a Republican, Murphy considered running without party affiliation.

As it stands, Costa is already facing the largest field of challengers in his eight terms in the House of Representatives.

Currently, two Democrats – Fresno City Councilwoman Esmeralda Soria and Kim Williams – and a Republican, Kevin Cookingham, are taking on the long-time Fresno legislator.

As of the most recent fundraising figures, Soria leads the crop of challengers in the dash for campaign dash. In her first fundraising quarter, she hauled in $153,085.36.

By comparison, Cookingham and Williams raised roughly $25,000 and $21,000, respectively.

Thursday, Soria announced that she picked up the endorsement of State Sen. Anna Caballero (D–Salinas).

Costa currently holds a considerable cash-on-hand advantage, with more than $575,532.54 and major statewide endorsements including those of California’s U.S. Senators, Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris.

The 16th Congressional District covers portions of Fresno, Madera, and Merced counties.

Alex Tavlian is the Executive Editor of The San Joaquin Valley Sun and Executive Director of Valley Future Foundation. You can reach Alex at