Josh Harder’s lead over incumbent Republican Jeff Denham appears to be anything but a fluke.
The upstart Democrat – who surged ahead of Denham on Friday as vote-by-mail and provisional ballots started to become reflected in vote totals – now has a sizable lead in both San Joaquin and Stanislaus Counties.
According to the California Secretary of State’s website, Harder is leading Denham by more than 3,400 votes – with thousands of ballots in both counties still outstanding. More than 17,000 ballots were still waiting to be counted in Stanislaus County at the end of last week, and a backlog of almost 92,000 ballots in San Joaquin County created the possibility that many races won’t be decided until the majority of those ballots were cleared.
Because of the relatively small portion of San Joaquin County that sits in the 10th Congressional District – parts of Tracy, Ripon, Manteca and Escalon – of a fraction of those 92,000 ballots will actually matter in the race, while all of the outstanding Stanislaus County will affect the outcome.
Harder, a Turlock native who graduated from Modesto High School before going on to earn degrees from both Harvard and Stanford, was trailing Denham in early returns by less than 2,000 votes. Because of the implications of the race for the Democratic Party’s bid to take back the House of Representatives, the relatively sleepy district became one of the most closely-watched in the country – exacerbated by the fact that Hillary Clinton won both counties that make up the district, making it vulnerable for Republicans.
Denham, who was first elected to Congress in 2010 to represent he 19th District before redistricting drew the current boundaries, is a previous California State Senator that has made water rights one of his principal issues since taking public office. In the last several months Denham has used his Washington D.C. connections to bring several high-ranking Republicans – including two Cabinet secretaries – to the district to discuss water-related issues and policy that his office and the Federal government could have a hand in shaping.
While Denham has roundly defended his seat in the last two election – beating the same candidate in Michael Eggman – the vulnerability of the seat turned the 10th District into a battleground with millions of dollars in outside funding backing both candidates in the lead-up to last-week’s election.
To contact reporter Jason Campbell email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 209.249.3544.