Residents of District 10 will choose between incumbent Democrat Josh Harder and his Republican challenger Ted Howze come Nov. 3, after the two candidates with ties to Turlock took the top two spots in the March primary, respectively. While Harder received the most votes following the primary election with 44.1 percent, Republicans grabbed just over half of the overall vote.
Since then, the world has changed as the coronavirus pandemic continues. At its start, the Journal caught up with Howze as he delivered care packages to seniors and Harder connecting with constituents virtually — both a sign of the difficult times. Sixth months later much remains the same, though the two campaigns carry on with November in sight.
While the candidates’ third quarter fundraising numbers will be released next month, most recent data from June 30 shows that the Harder campaign had nearly $4.4 million in cash on hand compared to Howze’s $254,294.
When the candidates aren’t raising funds, they’ve continued finding ways to campaign both on social media and from a distance. It’s not uncommon to scroll through the Facebook feed and see a video or two of Howze speaking into the camera to voters these days, and Harder utilized Turlock’s new outdoor cinema to host a drive-in town hall event last week. Both have also found ways to continue giving back during the pandemic, with Harder organizing supply drives for frontline workers and Howze leading a trash cleanup in Turlock last month.
The ad states that Howze wants to raise the retirement age, cut benefits for all retirees and includes a snippet of a quote in which Howze states “Medicare is a nightmare,” and that Congress can look at things like “income indexing, raising the qualifications.”
In a video response to the ad shared on social media, Howze stated that Harder’s “deceptive advertising” is a ploy to divert attention away from the fact that “he has failed in Congress to provide affordable healthcare, and his record is terrible.” He posted that he plans on protecting Social Security and Medicare and will never vote to increase the retirement age. Howze also told the Journal he takes issue with a flyer created by the Harder campaign which photoshopped a pair of scissors into his hand.
“Congress has failed to deliver on their healthcare promises they made America and Josh Harder has been part of that failed Congress. Since he can't talk about any successes, he needs to use deceptively photoshopped pictures and doctored clips to falsely attack my positions,” Howze said. “Josh clearly doesn't think much of Central Valley voters’ ability to see through the manure he is shoveling.”
In the full podcast interview, Howze includes raising the retirement age as part of a list of ideas meant to address problems with Social Security, which also included raising the amount of tax withheld from workers’ checks and raising the Social Security cap. Of the three, he states raising the cap would be the easiest fix, while raising the retirement age incrementally until the age of 70 is a viable second option due to increasing life expectancies.
When asked to comment on the advertisement, the Harder campaign also pointed to a separate 2018 instance, a League of Women Voters Candidate Forum, where Howze states the most important thing Congress needs to do is focus on restructuring “entitlements” to ensure their longevity. Social Security is the easiest fix, he says, because caps can be raised and the retirement age can be increased.
The campaign also provided a screenshot of a Facebook comment made by the Ted Howze for Congress page they claim has now been deleted, which shows the candidate suggested raising the retirement age incrementally by two months per year until it reaches 70.
"Ted should come clean about his plan to raise the retirement age for Social Security. He can't lie his way out this time. It's on video, it's online, he said it on a podcast and in a debate. Ted's at it again lying about the terrible stuff he's said and cooking up a weird conspiracy theory to cover it up. The man just can't take responsibility for his actions and his words,” Harder’s campaign manager Sam Signori said. “Ted is a threat to anyone who plans to retire at 65. That's the bottom line."
Howze refused to sling mud in his most recent ad, which was filmed in Turlock last week and is titled, “Let’s Choose Us.” He slams the health insurance company that allowed his first wife to die of a treatable heart condition and vows to meet the corporate healthcare industry head-on if elected.
“Congress has failed to deliver for us and people in the Valley want a change, not DC games,” Howze states in the ad, then stands in front of a group of supporters. “I won’t play games or bow to special interests — so now it’s us versus them. Let’s choose us.”
The two candidates will have the chance to set the record straight — from a distance — during a debate hosted by the Turlock Journal at 6 p.m. Oct. 7. The event will be livestreamed by the Turlock Journal staff through our YouTube channel and on our website. To submit a question to be asked to both candidates, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.