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Denham 1,287 votes ahead of Harder in 10th
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It was one of the most closely-watched races in the entire country. 

But more than 24 hours after the polls closed there is still no certainty as to who will represent California’s 10th Congressional District in the 116th United States Congress. 

Incumbent Jeff Denham, a Turlock Republican, holds a slim margin over upstart Democratic challenger Josh Harder. Denham holds a 1,287 vote lead over Harder with all of the precincts reporting in both Stanislaus and San Joaquin County, but with thousands of unrecorded vote-by-mail and provisional ballots still outstanding across the two counties, the race is far from decided. 

Expectations of unusually high voter turnout that may have helped Harder against the entrenched incumbent, however, did not materialize. In Stanislaus County only 32 percent of registered voters participated in the election, and that number fell to only 28 percent in San Joaquin County according to the Secretary of State. 

But Harder did far better outside of his own county than he did at home – beating Denham by 430 votes in the northern portion of the district that includes Manteca, Ripon, and some unincorporated areas of San Joaquin County. 

But in Stanislaus County – which comprises the bulk of the 10th Congressional District – Denham built a 1,717 vote lead over Harder, likely making any chance of taking the lead from the incumbent difficult to do in the more populated portion of the district south of the Stanislaus River. 

Over the course of the last month millions of dollars in outside money – most of it coming from political action committees controlled by Washington, D.C., politicians – came flooding into a district that many pegged as vulnerable for the incumbent after the results of the 2016 Presidential election. 

And while Harder launched an extensive Town Hall campaign to make himself known to voters, hitting more than a dozen of them in the final months of the campaign, Denham focused on the issue that transcends political parties in the Central Valley – water. 

By tapping into his Washington D.C. connections Denham was able to get a pair of cabinet-level Trump Administration officials to visit the district in the last three months to discuss the State of California’s plan to double the amount of water that flows down the Tuolumne, Merced and Stanislaus Rivers, and welcomed the acting director of the Environmental Protection Agency last month.

To contact reporter Jason Campbell email or call 209.249.3544.