One week after voters cast their ballots in the 2018 Midterm Election, first-time candidate and Democratic challenger Josh Harder has been declared the victor over Republican incumbent Jeff Denham in the race to see who would represent California’s 10th Congressional District.
Though ballot counting continues in Stanislaus County with over 17,000 provisional, miscellaneous and conditional ballots left to tally, a vote update from San Joaquin County on Tuesday night gave Harder a lead of nearly 5,000 votes in the overall race — an amount deemed by the Associated Press as a margin too large for the defending Congressman to overcome, even with the remaining votes.
“Pam and I want to thank the people of our community for the humbling privilege to serve you in Congress,” Harder said in a statement released Tuesday night, calling the campaign “hard fought” and also thanking Denham for his service in the Air Force and in Congress. “I want to thank the unprecedented grassroots effort that supported this campaign — people who knocked on doors, made phone calls and worked so hard on this race.”
The Denham campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Friday.
Immediately following the election, Denham led Harder by just under 1,300 votes. By last Friday, Harder had surged ahead by 3,362 votes after a large number of late-arriving absentee ballots were counted.
As of the latest tally, Harder has a 4,919-vote lead out of about 185,000 votes counted.
“Now that it’s over, I pledge to be a member of Congress for this entire district regardless of political party, regardless of who you voted for,” Harder said. “Washington is broken because our leaders have put party over country — I pledge that I will always put this community before anything in Washington.”
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 this year’s midterms marked the fourth straight election that Denham has had to defend his incumbency against the “blue wave.” In 2016, Denham defeated Democratic challenger Michael Eggman by just three percentage points.
DCCC Chairman Ben Ray Luján congratulated Harder on his victory Friday night.
“Congratulations to Josh Harder on an incredible campaign — it was truly a campaign of the Valley, for the Valley,” Luján said. “Josh’s historic victory is a testament to the grassroots energy behind his campaign, which was disciplined and laser-focused on the kitchen table issues that Central Valley families face every day. I know Josh will continue to be a fierce advocate for the Valley in Congress — and look forward to working with him in Washington.”
For California Republicans, Denham’s defeat marked another setback in a state where the party has been drifting toward irrelevance for years. Democrats hold every statewide office, a supermajority in both chambers of the Legislature and a 3.7-million advantage in voter registrations.
With Harder's win, Democrats will hold at least a 43-10 edge in California U.S. House seats.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.