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Fresno County dairyman Tacherra to challenge Costa for Congress again

Dairyman Johnny Tacherra, 39, announced Monday he plans to challenge Rep. Jim Costa, D-Fresno, in his second run for Congress. The Republican candidate lost by 1,319 votes in the Nov. 4 election.
Dairyman Johnny Tacherra, 39, announced Monday he plans to challenge Rep. Jim Costa, D-Fresno, in his second run for Congress. The Republican candidate lost by 1,319 votes in the Nov. 4 election. Los Banos Enterprise file

If at first you don’t succeed, try again.

That’s exactly what dairy farmer Johnny Tacherra plans to do. The Republican candidate announced Monday he will make a second consecutive run for Congress, saying this time he has what it takes to unseat “career politician” Rep. Jim Costa, D-Fresno.

Tacherra nearly defeated Costa last year in the race for the 16th Congressional District. Tacherra won Madera and Merced counties, but couldn’t conquer Fresno County, where Costa earned 1,056 votes to Tacherra’s 447.

The final tally had Costa ahead by 1,319 votes. For the second time in the past three elections, Costa rallied from an election night vote deficit to win re-election to Congress.

A lifelong farmer, 39-year-old Tacherra said farmers are frustrated with Costa and his inaction when it comes to protecting the Valley’s precious water resources amid a record drought.

“Costa stabbed farmers in the back because he gives a lot of lip service but doesn’t follow through. There hasn’t been any action,” Tacherra told the Merced Sun-Star in a telephone interview. “The talks are over. We just need to get down and do what’s right.”

Tacherra outlined his plan for protecting water in the district’s agricultural communities, calling it the “lifeblood” of the Central Valley. He proposed building infrastructure to store water during wet years and increasing supply by encouraging recycling and desalination in coastal cities.

Costa could not be reached for comment Monday.

According to Tacherra, farmers have told him they will move out of California if they run out of water. Many farmers are already fallowing their land and laying off workers, Tacherra said. In a news release Monday, Tacherra estimated more than 500,000 acres of farmland was idled and 17,000 farm jobs were lost last year.

Roughly 42,000 Republicans did not show up to vote during the 2014 election, Tacherra said, about 21,000 of them in Fresno County. If voter turnout can be increased in 2016 – especially in light of a presidential election – Tacherra said he’s looking forward to a victory over Costa.

Tacherra had a surprising 736-vote lead over Costa on election night, according to the returns on Nov. 4.

“I had over 2,000 messages the day after the (2014) election saying they were proud of me and wanted me to run again. My wife said, ‘I think God wanted you to experience this to know you have to run again,’” Tacherra said. “If you break it down, I lost by three votes per precinct. We have to awaken everybody and let them know every vote counts.”

Sun-Star staff writer Ramona Giwargis can be reached at (209) 385-2477 or rgiwargis@mercedsunstar.com. Follow her on Twitter @RamonaGiwargis.

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