Former Fresno Mayor Jim Patterson will not be a Republican candidate for the new 16th Congressional District and he won’t be challenging Rep. Jim Costa. Patterson told me "It’s a fool’s errand I’m not going to run". He believes the new district is so gerrymandered that it’s too difficult a seat for a Republican to win and hold. Patterson also thinks GOP leaders in California are not up to the fight and won’t put up the financial support needed to defeat the incumbent Democrat. Patterson told me over the phone "They’re asking candidates to risk everything, but they’re not giving them the support they need." Therefore, Patterson has no plans to endorse Fresno City Councilmember Clint Olivier if he officially launches a candidacy... or any other GOP candidate who runs in the 16th.
Patterson claims Costa is vulnerable. He says GOP polling (I wrote about this in a previous Insider blog) of the new 16th District is back and 62% of those responding say Costa should not be re-elected. However, Costa defeats every Republican in a one-on-one match-up with Patterson coming closest... losing by 7-8 percentage points. Regardless, Patterson again told me that "those who want to take out Costa seem to have no backbone" and the seat doesn’t seem a priority.
Patterson has run twice for Congress and lost twice. He told me don’t count him out yet. He’s looking to 2014 and possibly running in new State Assembly or State Senate Districts that should favor a Republican.
I also spoke with two Fresno City Councilmembers about the Congressional race. Larry Westerlund told me he’s made no decision yet about running again for Congress. He wants to see the results of the GOP polling before making any decision. The name of Andreas Borgeas has been mentioned as a possible candidate, but the Councilman says he’s focused on running for the District 2 Supervisor’s seat in Fresno County. I’ve also learned that State Senator Tom Berryhill was considering a run in the 16th, but has decided against it.
As for Jim Costa, he sounds ready to rumble. In a recent interview with Action News Reporter Gene Haagenson, the Democratic Congressman said he likes the new district and he’s not worried about a possible GOP candidate until after the June Primary Election. Click on the video player below to see Gene’s entire interview with Costa regarding his run in the new 16th Congressional District.