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Local legislators keep seats at state, federal level
Heath Flora
Incumbent Assemblyman Heath Flora drops off his ballot at the San Joaquin County Registrar of Voters the day before Election Day. Flora, who was first elected to the State Assembly in 2016, was leading his challenger by 27,269 votes on Friday (Photo contributed).

Turlock will continue to have bipartisan representation at the state and federal level following Tuesday’s election, as both of the incumbents representing Congressional District 10 and State Assembly District 12 held on to their seats.

Rep. Josh Harder will serve a second term in Congress after defeating his Republican challenger, former Turlock City Council member and veterinarian Ted Howze, in a race that was called in the Democrat’s favor by the Associated Press late Tuesday night. Assm. Heath Flora, a Republican from Ripon, is looking forward to a third term following his victory over Democrat Paul Akinjo, a Lathrop City Council member.

After the most recent results were released by Stanislaus County on Friday, Harder led the Congressional race by a margin of nearly 30,000 votes. Districtwide, Harder collected 121,755 votes and 91,956 votes in Stanislaus County. Howze received 91,979 votes throughout the District and Stanislaus County cast 73,071 ballots for the Republican.

District 10 includes all of Stanislaus County and part of San Joaquin County, neither of which have finished tabulating ballots. 

When the first round of results were released on Tuesday evening and showed Harder ahead by over 20,000 votes, Harder emphasized the importance of remaining patient until all of the ballots are counted. When AP called the race later that night, however, Harder released a statement of gratitude to voters.

“It has been the honor of my life to serve my home town in Congress the past two years — and it is just as much of an honor to receive the support of our community once again. We proved that we can get more done by finding common ground than fighting each other,” Harder said. “I promise to build on the work we got done over the past two years to bring more water funding and good-paying jobs to the Valley and cutting the costs of health care while protecting everyone’s access. Once again, thank you to the people of the Central Valley for putting your faith in me. I won’t let you down.”  

Harder emerged victorious in a race that saw his campaign raise $7 million compared to Howze’s $1.5 million — $740,000 of which Howze loaned to his own campaign. Howze lost support from the national and state GOP in May after insensitive social media posts alleged to be authored by the candidate were published by Politico, but still had plenty of support locally with endorsements from mayors and police associations in the district. 

When asked for a statement Wednesday following the race being called in Harder’s favor, Howze said nothing had changed from the comments he gave to the Journal the previous night. He stated that Republicans voted in droves on Election Day rather than voting early, and that their turnout would help him catch up to Harder once their ballots had been counted. On Friday evening, Howze did not return a request for comment on the updated results.

Flora, who was first elected to the State Assembly in 2016, was leading his challenger by 27,269 votes on Friday. The incumbent had so far received 89,026 votes while 61,757 votes went Akinjo’s way.

“I am honored the people of the 12AD have given our team another clear and strong vote of confidence to represent them for another term. I am privileged to continue to be their voice in Sacramento,” Flora said. “Public safety, local control and common-sense reforms will continue to be our legislative focus. Here at home we will continue to provide for our constituents who need help locally or with the state government. I look forward to continuing to fight for the Valley’s interests, defending our economy, and protecting local jobs.”

Though there are still votes to count, Flora’s campaign spokesperson Josh Whitfield remains confident his candidate will maintain the lead

“We are very pleased with the strong margins for us in the vote count. In such a partisan election environment, this solid victory is a strong vote of confidence in Heath’s leadership,” Whitfield said. “We expect the margins to largely hold as the count continues.” 

Following his loss, Akinjo congratulated Flora on his victory and thanked those who voted, but said that taking part in the election made him feel that the region is divided.

“As I traveled all over the District, it became apparent to me that the political division in our society is deeper than even what the media was telling us. The party allegiance triumphs over the health of the people, and in most cases it prevents any discussion of how to bring necessary improvements like clean water, agriculture, transportation, education, immigration, housing, homelessness, pollution control, racial justice, pay equity...even the COVID-19 pandemic was considered a Democratic issue,” Akinjo said. “It could be frustrating, but God does not do anything by accident so we continue to engage with the people and meet them where they are.”

Stanislaus County will be releasing an updated ballot count every Friday and Tuesday until the canvass is complete. As of Friday evening, 169,588 ballots had been counted with 40,000 left to process. San Joaquin County also released an updated tally on Friday night which was not available by the time of publication. To stay up to date with results, visit