One of the most closely-watched races in the country lived up to its expectations on Tuesday as Rep. Jeff Denham and challenger Josh Harder faced off to see who would represent California’s 10th Congressional District, with results being too close to call as the night drew to a close.
As of 11:45 p.m., and with 62.8 percent of precincts in Stanislaus and San Joaquin Counties reporting, the California Secretary of State’s office declared the race a close contest with Denham receiving 50.4 percent of the vote, or 42,584 votes, and Harder receiving 49.6 percent of the vote, or 41,871 votes.
The high-profile race was targeted by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee early on as part of their campaign to flip Republican-controlled districts over to Democrats, and following Harder’s victory over several other Democratic candidates in the primary, Denham on Tuesday defended his incumbency against the “blue wave” for the fourth straight election.
At a barn located outside of Modesto, Congressman Jeff Denham thanked his supporters for their hard work and seemed upbeat about his early lead.
“I’m feeling great — I’ve felt great all the way through this. It’s what happens when you’ve got a great team that continues to work every day, you live in the community, you work in the community and you solve problems for people and focus on issues that are important, like water,” Denham said. “I think the results are going to be pretty telling tonight.”
Denham, who lives in Turlock, also reflected on the large amount of money spent on the race and took one final jab at fellow Turlock native Harder and “Bay Area values” that his campaign has promoted in ads leading up to the election.
“The amount of money that was spent here — they spent more than was spent on most governor’s races,” Denham said. “For them to bring that many people in from the Bay Area and that much money from the Bay Area, I think the people in this area have spoken.”
Data from the Federal Elections Commission data shows that combined, the two candidates have raised $11.5 million in their campaigns. Harder’s campaign has raised $7.05 million — just over two percent of which has come from individuals in District 10, according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics — and Denham has raised $4.4 million. About 18 percent of Denham’s donations have come from inside of District 10, CRP reported.
Across town, Harder and his supporters sipped drinks and awaited the election results at a downtown restaurant aptly decorated with plenty of blue lighting. Harder said the close contest was what he, and everyone else, expected.
“I think we knew it was going to be close, and we’re going to make sure every ballot is counted and every voice is heard,” Harder said. “We feel like we ran the best campaign we could run. We’re really proud of how we ran it and the energy we had across the county and across this community, and I think that will be enough but we’ll make sure it all gets counted.”
Harder has stated throughout his campaign that he decided to run for Congress two years ago after the election of President Donald Trump. The party in his honor on Tuesday night was a culmination of tht two-year effort, he said.
“Right now, I feel really grateful. I look around this room and I look at so many people who have dedicated as much time if not even more than myself over the last two years and have really put in every ounce of effort, and that’s all you can ask for,” he said.
At 11:45 p.m. on Tuesday, 84.2 percent of precincts in Stanislaus County had reported votes, while just 5.4 percent of precincts in San Joaquin County had reported votes. Check back at www.turlockjournal.com for updated results.