Democratic Congressional District 10 candidate Josh Harder met with a crowded auditorium at Stanislaus State on Thursday, answering questions and urging students to register to vote during his 11th town hall in as many weeks leading up to the November election.
Harder is challenging Incumbent Republican Congressman Jeff Denham in the Nov. 6 election after winning the June Primary, and from the beginning, the race was sure to be contentious. After narrowly defeating Democrat Michael Eggman in the 2016 election, Denham is facing another opponent from the left for the fourth straight election in a high-profile race that was targeted early-on by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee as part of their campaign to flip Republican-controlled districts over to Democrats.
While speaking with university students in Turlock this week, Harder focused on energizing those who may have never voted before, encouraging them to register and make their voice heard no matter what party they identify with.
“I think it’s critical to get everyone registered and we should get everybody voting,” Harder said. “The issues we’re talking about — healthcare, immigration, jobs — they’re not Republican or Democratic issues, they’re universal.”
The issues we’re talking about — healthcare, immigration, jobs — they’re not Republican or Democratic issues, they’re universal.Democratic Congressional District 10 candidate Josh Harder
Harder began a campaign in July to host 16 town hall events throughout District 10 in the 16 weeks leading up to Nov. 6, registering voters along the way, he said. So far, Harder’s campaign has helped close to 1,000 people register in a district he says is home to around 130,000 eligible, unregistered voters. Of that 130,000, many are young voters who historically don’t register, he added, highlighting the importance of reaching out to populations like the students at Stanislaus State.
“It’s exciting to see that progress,” Harder said.
On Thursday Harder heard from student voters who were concerned about issues like healthcare, immigration and water.
Freshman Randel Montenegro told Harder about his brother, who has autism, and wondered what the candidate would do if elected to help his mother continue caring for him through In-Home Supportive Services, established through the Affordable Care Act. In May 2017, Congress voted to repeal the ACA.
“Everyone in this room knows someone who is in a similar situation, someone who has a preexisting condition and could be kicked off health care, or someone who’s reliant on the Affordable Care Act,” Harder said, promising to fight to protect those with preexisting conditions if elected. “You would think a program like IHSS would be bipartisan and supported…but these are the programs that are getting cut just to pay for more trickle-down tax cuts.”
Harder also made clear his goals when it comes to immigration after being asked about his views by a student who has two parents that were born in Mexico.
“I’m seeing on the news that kids are getting separated from their parents and that’s just awful,” the student said. “What are you going to do about that?”
“I’ll do everything I can to make sure we have comprehensive immigration reform, a path to citizenship for every single undocumented immigration, a clean DREAM Act and no more kids separated from their parents,” Harder said. “Those are my priorities.”
Harder also went on the record about whether or not he supports the State Water Resources Control Board’s Bay-Delta Plan update, which would drastically limit the amount of water made available to the District in order to help protect the area’s native fish — a proposal that most in the area vehemently oppose.
Harder’s opponent Denham has been vocal about the Democrat’s failure to show up at a water rally held in protest to the plan last month. Harder said that both the Bay-Delta Plan update and an accompanying plan to send water from the Delta south through tunnels are “wrong,” referring to them as water grabs, and added that both are “anti-science.”
Harder and Denham will have the chance to square-off on similar topics on Sept. 22 at a debate hosted by the Journal, which appears to be as important as ever for both candidates according to recent polls. Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight, which has notoriously only predicted false results for one race (the 2016 Presidential Election), recently predicted Harder would win with 51.4 percent of the vote, while an Inside Elections poll gave Denham the victory.
The Cook Political Report listed the race as a toss-up, while another recent poll of 501 likely voters by the Garin Hart Yang Research Group shows a 48-48 percent tie, with four percent of voters expressing no preference.
The Turlock Journal’s District 10 Congressional candidate debate will be held from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Sept. 22 at the Carnegie Arts Center. The event is free, however, all attendees must have a ticket. A lottery will be held for the limited number of tickets available. The public can enter the lottery for a ticket by filling out the form attached to the event’s advertisement in today’s newspaper and mail it or return it in person to: Turlock Journal, 138 S. Center St., Turlock, CA 95380. Free entries are also available at the Turlock Journal/Ceres Courier, Manteca Bulletin and Oakdale Leader offices during regular business hours. Entries must be received by 5 p.m. Sept. 14. Names will be drawn at 6 p.m. Sept. 14 and each winner will receive one ticket. The debate can also be viewed live at www.turlockjournal.com.