Preliminary results from California’s Congressional District 10 race show incumbent Democrat Josh Harder leading his Republican challenger Ted Howze by over 20,000 votes, but both candidates know it’s still anyone’s game.
It was decided in March that Turlock native Harder and former Turlock City Councilman Howze would face off in the General Election after the two candidates finished first and second in the primary, respectively. Since then, campaigning has been made difficult by the coronavirus pandemic — but that hasn’t stopped the pair from trading blows in advertisements, on social media and during a debate hosted by the Journal in October.
As of 10 p.m. Tuesday, Harder had captured 96,842 votes in District 10, or 60.8% of the vote. Howze had received 62,428 votes, or 39.2% of the vote. District 10 is comprised of all of Stanislaus County and part of San Joaquin County; as of 10 p.m., 93.8% of Stanislaus County’s precincts had partially reported.
At a small press conference at his campaign headquarters in Modesto, Harder said he was feeling “very confident” about the preliminary results, but is cautious about declaring victory until more votes are counted. When the freshman Congressman defeated former Rep. Jeff Denham in 2018, he trailed by 4,500 votes on election night but ultimately ended up winning the election.
“We’re taking nothing for granted, but I think it is humbling to see this much support across our community and we’ve seen incredible turnout,” Harder said. “…I’d ask everybody out there — as well as the media — to make sure that just like the presidential race, that we are being responsible about our pronouncements. We’re not going to declare victory. We’re making sure that every ballot gets counted, even if that means we’ll have to practice a little bit of patience this time around.”
During the last District 10 election between Harder and Denham, it took one week after the election for the Democrat to be declared victor. Howze expects the count this year to take just as long if not longer, due to the pandemic as well as Republican anxiety surrounding vote-by-mail ballots. The preliminary results reflect enthusiasm and early votes from Democrats, he said, and hopes the tally to come shows a strong Republican turnout on Election Day.
“All of our supporters knew that when the first returns came in, we were going to be down 20 to 30,000 votes…We know that Democrat voters voted early. They were motivated, they hate the President of the United States and they couldn’t wait to check their ballots off,” Howze said. “Republican and even conservative independents are very wary of mail-in ballots, and they came out to the polls in big turnouts today…Our opinion is that it’s going to be a waiting game and it could be 10 days to two weeks before we know the actual outcome.”
Looking ahead, Harder said that if he wins, he hopes to work with the entire district — even those who didn’t vote for him.
“I want to listen. If you didn’t vote for me and I end up winning this election, then I want to understand where your priorities lie. I want to understand what we could be doing differently or if there’s something that we missed,” he said. “I think we also need to be doing a lot more to identify areas of common ground.”
As for Howze, he eagerly awaits the final vote count.
“This whole thing boils down to turnout,” Howze said. “Did Republicans and did conservative voters turn out on Election Day? If they did, we have a chance. And if they didn’t, we have no chance.”
As of 10 p.m. Tuesday, the Stanislaus County elections office reported having tallied 120,436 ballots out of 279,730 registered voters for a turnout of 43.05%. There are still thousands of votes to be counted. For updates on vote totals, visit https://electionresults.sos.ca.gov/returns/us-rep/district/10.